Category Archives: Current Events

“Iron Age Temple in Syria Devastated by Turkish Air Raids,” By Claire Voon

“Iron Age Temple in Syria Devastated by Turkish Air Raids”

‘The ancient temple complex of Ain Dara was partially destroyed by the Turkish military as they continue to attack Kurdish forces in the Afrin region of Syria’

By Claire Voon


Air raids by Turkish warplanes on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria have partially destroyed the ancient temple complex of Ain Dara, renowned for its finely carved reliefs. Built in the iron age by the Arameans, sometime between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE, the site is also notable for its structural similarities to King Solomon’s Temple — the first temple in ancient Jerusalem — as described in the Bible. News of the air strikes, which occurred on Friday, were confirmed by the Britain-based war monitor, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and Syria’s antiquities department.

Lion at Ain Dara, photographed in 2009 (photo by Verity Cridland via Wikipedia)

According to the BBC, the Observatory estimates that about 60% of the temple was destroyed. Photographs of the site taken after the air strikes show its courtyard, originally paved with flagstones, covered with rubble. The temple itself stood on a limestone platform and was lined with basalt blocks sculpted to resemble lions and sphinxes; near its entrance, carved into the stone floor, was also a series of giant footprints, which some scholars believe were intended to represent traces of deities who resided in the sanctuary. The temple complex was first excavated by archaeologists in 1955, after they found a massive basalt lion on the site.

Syria’s Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums condemned the attack in a statement, saying that it “reflects the hatred and barbarism of the Turkish regime against the Syrian identity and against the past, present and future of the Syrian people.

“DGAM appeals to all concerned international organizations and all those interested in world heritage to condemn this aggression and to pressure the Turkish regime to prevent the targeting of archeological and cultural sites in Efrin, one of the richest areas in Syria.”

The air strikes were part of a military offensive the Turkish government launched on January 20 against the People’s Protection Units — or the mainly Kurdish militia known as the YPG — to secure Afrin from what it considers a terrorist organization. Beyond the damage to historical remains, the human cost since the operation began is alarming: the United Nation estimates that 5,000 civilians have been displaced and dozens have been killed, according to Reuters.

Rebuilt sculpted wall of the Ain Dara temple, photographed in 2005 (photo via Wikipedia)

A sphinx at Ain Dara, photographed in 2009 (photo by Verity Cridland via Wikipedia)

Featured image, top: Temple complex of Ain Dara, photographed after being hit by Turkish air strikes (image courtesy the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums)


By Claire Voon, Reprint from Hyperallergic, 30 January 2018, © 2018 Hyperallergic Media Inc.

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“As Fires Burn in Northern California, Arts Institutions Close Doors,” By Robin Scher

Mark di Suvero, For Veronica, 1987. COURTESY DI ROSA COLLECTION, ISRAEL VALENCIA


“As Fires Burn in Northern California, Arts Institutions Close Doors
 
By ROBIN SCHER

As fires rage throughout parts of northern California, Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, describing the situation as one of the worst firestorms in the state’s history. At present at least 11 people have died, with over 100,000 acres of land scorched by the fires. Evacuations began Sunday night and continued through Monday. Meanwhile, some institutions housing prominent art collections have closed their doors for safety reasons.

The Hess Collection, housed in the Napa Valley, announced on its website that it has closed to the public for safety reasons. The museum houses Donald Hess’s private collection, which includes pieces by Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, and Robert Motherwell.

Napa’s di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, which has three galleries containing prominent Bay Area artists such as Bruce Conner, Lynn Hershman Leeson, David Ireland, and Richard Shaw, said on its Twitter account on Tuesday, “Fire fighters are on site & galleries are ok.”

Update, Wednesday, October 11, 11 a.m.: A spokesperson for di Rosa told ARTnews that the center is is “currently without power, including access to phones and email, and thus is closed until further notice. At this time, staff access to the site has been minimal due to road closures and the hazardous conditions in the area. We know that the fire touched the north end of the property, but did not reach the main campus, including all galleries and offices.”

As of Tuesday, another Napa landmark, Stonescape, Norman and Norah Stone’s art-filled property, has so far been unaffected by the disaster, according to a representative for the collection, which contains work by Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Joseph Beuys, and a site-specific James Turrell. Due to it being a private space, it has not had to contend with public closures.

In nearby Sonoma, an official with Oliver Ranch confirmed over the phone that its collection remains safe at present.


By Robin Scher, Reprint from ARTnews magazine / ARTnews, 10 October 2017, © 2017, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc.