At one point in Dan Cruickshank’s moving TV documentary, Return to Palmyra, the historian declared that the destruction of the ancient city should be left as a warning to the “baseness and cruelty” humans were capable of.
The film illustrates the link between the cultural vandalism at the 2,000 year-old Syrian city of temples and columns, wrecked by Jihadist fanatics, and the human cost of war.
“It is a terrible human tragedy,” he said, who will talk about his journey to the Middle East when he visits Grand Theatre, Clitheroe, on November 13th.
Dan added: “Palmyra is important because it represents all our histories.
“It was at the beginning of what the West takes to be its culture, its civilization.
“This was not just an attack upon the Syrian people and their identity but an attack upon us all.
“However, Palmyra has died many times before, it can come back to life again, be reinvented.
“Rebuilding needs to be undertaken with love and respect; and perhaps, ultimately heal the nation.”
Cruickshank was accompanied by the veteran war photographer, Don McCullin, whose photojournalism was shaped by the brutality of the Vietnam war.
“I’ve seen starving children, earthquake victims, massacres, but what we witnessed in Syria, the almost total destruction of cities, will live with me forever,” said McCullin.
“But being with Dan Cruikshank was an amazing experience.
“He’s an extraordinary man, and he personally took the damage of Palmyra seriously – and under the surface he was bleeding.”
McCullin snatched the opportunity to record the shattered remains, noting that they were symbolic.
At the Temple of Bel, for example, ancient faces were hacked from sculptures and other priceless architectural treasures were blown up.
“Not only did they destroy human life, they turned on the nation’s culture,” said McCullin.
“It was shocking to see what they did in this war.”
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