The destruction of our ancient history, of magnificent sites that are, or were, jewels in our cultural heritage and are now nothing but rubble, makes my blood boil.
We are all of us reading the news and staring at photographs that are breaking our hearts. And we are so impotent, or so it feels to me, to make any difference.
I cannot make a difference, but what I can do for a few brief sentences here is to share with you a few moments from my stay in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria in 2007. I was working my way round the Mediterranean in search of the history and stories from ancient olive tree cultivation.
Palmyra was at the early stages of my long quest but it was and has remained one of the highlights of that life-changing seventeen-month journey. I am SO pleased I took the time and faced risks involved in getting there, because it will never be the same again.
The reports we have been receiving gleaned from news and satellite footage of the destruction of key sites in Palmyra as well as the brutal beheading of archaeologist Khaled al-Assad in August of this year prove that we have lost a man of courage and vision as well as irreplaceable archaeological treasures.
My first sighting of Palmyra as described in The Olive Route.
“Palmyra loomed up out of the desert like a shimmering golden mirage, once seen never forgotten. Deep in the heart of baking sands, in the centre of nowhere, 150 kilometres west to the Orontes river and 200 kilometres to the mighty Euphrates in the east, Palmyra or Tadmor, its original name, had grown up as a caravan stop, a terminus on routes to and from the Far East. Its fabulous wealth and reputation had come from its position, a lush oasis fed by springs of crystal water stationed in the middle of a baking…