ISIS versus the Cradle of Civilization

The world has denounced the destruction of Assyrian and Babylonian antiquities by ISIS. One would have to be a Philistine not to be appalled by such atrocities. Of course, the Philistines are relieved that their relics have been spared.

Incidentally, the term “philistine” to describe a barbarian seems to originate from Matthew Arnold’s adaptation of the word Philister, used by German students to describe ignoramuses.


5 responses to “ISIS versus the Cradle of Civilization

  1. The “ignoramuses” destroy the treasures precisely because the antiquities are valued by the establishment (father figures) against whom they are rebelling, and whom they would obliterate in the same way they’re toppling the statues and urns. The ancient works represent values the vandals reject. Their actions are conscious deliberate strategic communications, not ignorant. Worthy of Ai Weiwei. But what they’ve “accomplished” is disturbing and tragic nevertheless.

  2. “And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side; and there was a valley between them.” (I Kings, 17:3) Thus begins the story of David and Goliath. Were both Arnold and the Germans both beholden to the Bible?

  3. Elisabeth Ecker

    Long before ISIS a lot of antiquities were destroyed in Iraq and for this matter a lot of irreplaceable treasures were destroyed in all wars. Another good reason to find a less destructive way to settle conflicts.

  4. English history is not without religion-based destruction of art. During the Protectorate did not the Puritans destroy paintings, stained glass windows and other artifacts?

  5. And did Henry VIII not dissolve the monasteries?