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ICC Note: The Mar Behnam Monastery is located northeastern Ira, and traditionally was the location of miraculous healing and legend in both Christian and Muslim culture. The Monetary featured art from the history of both religions. On March 19, 2015, ISIS completely leveled the structure destroying some of Iraq’s most unique history. Mar Behnam is just one of the priceless tragedies of ISIS’ campaign to erase the presence of Christianity from Iraq.   

06-23-2015 Iraq (Hyperallergic): Among the most tragic losses of the many antiquities destroyed in Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been the destruction of Iraq’s seriously understudied medieval architecture. The demolition of the mausoleum of Imam Yahya ibn al-Qasim and the tomb of Imam Ibn Hassan Aoun al-Din wiped out two of Mosul’s prominent medieval landmarks. When another explosion obliterated the Imam Dur mausoleum in Samarra, it wiped out the earliest example of a muqarnas dome in the world.

While the destruction of medieval sites has received far less media attention than attacks on better known ancient sites such as Nimrud or Hatra, the loss of Iraq’s medieval sites is perhaps even more tragic due to the relative lack of scholarly documentation.

An example is the monastery of Mar Behnam and Mart Sarah, northeast of Nimrud. Destroyed only three months ago, its loss was barely noticed, sandwiched between the carnage at the Mosul Museum and the graphic demolition of Nimrud.

History is usually older than memory, and the monastery of Mar Behnam is no exception. Excavations of a tiny tell next to the monastery have revealed remains dating back over 8,000 years ago to the Neolithic, along with later Assyrian remains.

On March 19, 2015 ISIS fighters rigged the tomb of Mar Behnam and Mart Sarah with explosives and blew it up, completely leveling the structure. Gone is the unique architecture blending Muslim and Christian art, along with one of the Middle East’s few inscriptions in Uighur. The destruction of the site fits both ISIS’ targeting of Christians and Yezidis as well as the destruction of graves revered as shrines. It has also made Iraq and the world that much poorer.

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