War has always taken a toll on heritage as well as human lives, from the sacking of Constantinople by crusaders and the destruction of Baghdad by Mongol armies, to the second world war firebombing of Coventry that claimed its Gothic cathedral.
But the demolition of the temples at Palmyra in Syria by Isis is the latest act in an even darker history of purposeful vandalism in the name of religion or ideology. It stretches back to the earliest days of recorded human history, with the Bible noting the destruction of religious statues in the Syrian region centuries before the Christian era. Here are details of a few of the lost treasures, and the groups that destroyed them.
Libraries of Timbuktu
The Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine torched libraries of priceless manuscripts dating back to the 13th century when they took control of Timbuktu and destroyed ancient mausoleums that were part of a world heritage site.
The shrines were rebuilt after the city was liberated, and it has emerged that many of the city’s manuscripts were secretly saved from the flames by people who risked their lives to protect their cultural heritage.