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Khaled Asaad, il Guardian facendone il profilo lo accomuna a Carter, lo scopritore della tomba di Tutankhamon

Khaled Assaad, l’archeologo siriano decapitato dall’Isis per non aver rivelato dove ha nascosto materiale archeologico di Palmyra: ecco chi era, in un articolo del Guardian che lo paragona allo scopritore della tomba di Tutankhamon:

Khaled al-Asaad profile: the Howard Carter of Palmyra

The historian beheaded by Isis was a key figure in Syrian archaeology and has been compared with the discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt

Khaled al-Asaad, the Syrian scholar murdered by Isis, was one of the most important pioneers in Syrian archaeology in the 20th century and a man who devoted his life to promoting and protecting his home town of Palmyra.

“He was a fixture, you can’t write about Palmyra’s history or anything to do with Palmyrian work without mentioning Khaled Asaad,” said Amr al-Azm, a former Syrian antiquities official who ran the country’s science and conservation labs and knew Asaad personally.

“It’s like you can’t talk about Egyptology without talking about Howard Carter.”

Asaad was involved in early excavations of Palmyra and the restoration of parts of the ancient city. The 82-year-old played a role in evacuating the contents of the city museum ahead of Isis taking control, which, Azm said, meant he faced certain arrest when the militants arrived.

“Asaad was a treasure for Syria and the world,” his son-in-law, Khalil Hariri, who works at Palmyra’s archaeological department, told the Associated Press. “Why did they kill him?

“Their systematic campaign seeks to take us back into prehistory, but they will not succeed.”

The archaeologist and scholar, who held a diploma in history and education from the University of Damascus, published many books and scientific texts. Among his titles are The Palmyra Sculptures and Zenobia, the Queen of Palmyra and the Orient.

He worked for 40 years as the head of antiquities in Palmyra, which was an important trading hub along the Silk Road 150 miles north-east of Damascus. When he retired in 2003, it was to take up the post of expert with the antiquities and museums department.

Syria’s directorate general of antiquities and museums (DGAM) described him as an “inspirational and dedicated professional who was committed to DGAM even after he retired”.

Hariri, who is married to Asaad’s daughter, Zenobia, said his father-in-law had been a member of Bashar al-Assad’s ruling Ba’ath party since 1954. He is survived by six sons and five daughters, he said.

In 2003, Asaad was part of a joint Syrian-Polish archaeological team to unearth an intact third century mosaic depicting a battle between a human being and a mythical winged animal, and surrounded by geometric drawings of grapes, figs, deer and horses.

At the time, he described the 70 sq m mosaic as “one of the most precious discoveries ever made in Palmyra”.

In 2001 he announced the discovery of 700 silver coins, dating back to the seventh century in the town. The coins, stuck together in one lump, bore the pictures of Kings Khosru I and Khosru II, members of the Sassanid dynasty that reigned in Persia before the Arab conquest. Both kings invaded Syria.




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