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August 08, 2005

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That really is sickening. My boyfriend is a Buddhist so my response is somewhat pesonal.

The motive behind the destruction is the Wahhabists' fanatical fear that places of historical and religious interest could give rise to idolatry or polytheism, the worship of multiple and potentially equal gods.
Seems to be a universal fear amongst all fundamentalists.

But quite frankly, the dismantling of science education in this country by our own brand of fundamentalists pisses me off a heck of a lot more than the destruction of archaeological history. I'm far more concerned about the future and our children than I am about our past.

I weep for history. I fear for our own future.

Filling the void where these important historical sites once were "have come commercial developers keen to fill the historic void left by demolitions with lucrative high-rises."

Unsurprising. There's always a capitalist somewhere, I'm sure, willing to buy what the zealots are selling.

Not only is the historical slate wiped clean but they are being built over.

No, wait! We asked for an Islamic Enlightenment, not an Islamic Industrial Revolution. (Wanted: an Islamic William Morris--can start immediately.)

Those damn Muslims can't even take care of the Islamic Important Things[tm]! Clearly only western Christians are responsible and mature enough to take care of Mecca.

"Almost all of the rich and multi-layered history of the ... city is gone. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades."

Not particularly surprising; the Wahabi's destroyed the Prophet's Tomb in Medina in the 19th century.

If only they would just wreck their own backyard.

Henry the VIII did a job on cathedrals and monasteries in England. Christians and Muslims tooks turns renovating the Eastern Mediterranean.

I have mixed feelings about this, and a little acceptance. If all the wondrous constructions had been saved since the Egyptians, we would be crowded in high-rises in Antarctica.

This is not new at all - the Saudis have been destroying historical sites since they took the country. They destroyed too many to count. Anything they could argue was being "used as a shrine" by Sufis or others they disliked, was razed. They are tragically ahistorical. If they ever took over Egypt, they'd probably dismantle the Pyramids stone by stone. (As many here probably know, wealthy landowners in the Islamic part of Egyptian history took the limestone coverings from the Pyramids to put on their own buildings - there is along history of this kind of thing - only the Pyramids are left from the 7 ancient wonders precisely because they were dismantled by the next wave of conquerors.)

I think we need to distinguish between disregard for historical buildings and a concious desire to eradicate historical sites. Many of the older farm buildings in my area are made of stone taken from Hadrian's Wall - nobody gave a thought to it at the time, just using a resource. Similarly, I imagine, the Pyramids referenced by Anna. In the 18th century there was a widespread feeling that the old gothic cathederals were just too gloomy and unfashionable and should be demolished and replaced by something more chic. We place great store by historical sites, to some extent that is an aesthetic, not a moral position.

However, in the middle-east today archaeology is notoriously a politico/religious football and the resulting deliberate destruction and falsification of evidence by all sides may well have permanantly damaged real scholarship. Check out William Dalrymple's 'From the Holy Mountain'.

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