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Rewriting History: ISIS Destruction of Historic Sites

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
― George Orwell

Re-Writing History: ISIS Destruction of Sites

Historical revisionism is an act where the controlling political force re-writes or erases history in order to control it. Over history many examples can be found of this type of propaganda; from the ancient Kings list of Egypt to the modern holocaust denial of Iran. Today we are faced with a large scale application of historical revisionism by the Muslim ISIS pandemic. In this case, ISIS is attempting to erase an entire world history and replace it with a purely Islamic one. It involves not only the extinction of all non-Muslim people, (of their particular ilk), it also includes the destruction of all historical evidence that is contrary to their teachings. Below is a list of some of the major sites destroyed attempting to achieve this end.

Destroyed Sites (as originally compiled by National Geographic)

In Syria


After beheading the lead archaeologist charged with the site’s protection, militants proceeded to blow up the 1,900 year old site with explosives, reducing it to rubble.

Mar Elian Monastery

ISIS, with the aid of heavy construction equipment ploughed under the 1,500 year old Christian monastery dating to 432 AD. Ironically pre-dating the Islamic faith.


An ancient Syrian city founded in 300 BC has been looted by ISIS soldiers, destroying much of the site. Items, like roman era mosaics, have been sold on the black market to raise funds for continued fighting.


A settlement originally Greek and then later Roman, contained the oldest known Christian church (dating to AD 235) but has suffered under the looting and destruction of the Islamic fighters.


A bronze age city from 1,600 BC had been a wealth of archeological finds. Today ISIS has reduced most of the structures to rubble with high explosives.

In Iraq


Built in the 3rd or 2nd century BC by the Seleucid Empire, this site was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today its condition is listed as “Leveled” after being used by ISIS as an ammo dump and training camp.


The ancient city once saved by the preaching of Jonah has now been utterly destroyed by ISIS. Troops even took sledge hammers and chipping guns to the statues dating from 700 BC that once stood at the city gates.

Mosul Museum and Libraries

After being overran by ISIS in 2014, centuries-old manuscripts were stolen, and thousands of books disappeared into the shadowy international art market. (quoted from Nat Geo article.) To seal the deal, the Islamic troops burned the University library and blew up the central public library.


The original Assyrian capital city was destroyed by ISIS as depicted by an online video posted in the spring of this year.


Built around 717 BC, this Assyrian city contained preserved paintings from King Sargon II’s rule. ISIS attacked this city not long after leveling Nimrud. We have yet to learn the extent of the damage.

Mar Benham Monastery

A 4th century monastery reached ISIS hands in March who destroyed tombs and carving with explosives.

Mosque of the Prophet Yunus

This Mosque was interestingly dedicated to the Prophet Jonah, who is revered by many Muslims; but not by ISIS. This Mosque was demolished on July 24th.

Imam Dur Mausoleum

This was a medieval era Islamic structure that was decimated by explosives by ISIS in October because it did not fit into their brand of Islam.

History Lost to the Ages

With so much destruction no doubt many facets of history have been lost; including many discoveries that will never be known. The damage is irreversible. And now time has re-capture much of what has been collectively lost to the memories of past generations.

So what does this mean for the Christian?

The historical sites important to understanding our church history are not immune to this destruction. Many churches in the world’s oldest region of early missionary activities of the church have been destroyed completely. ISIS is attempting to re-write history to remove Christianity from it. Specifically the real understanding of who Jesus Christ is and anything that would point people to Him.

So where is God in all of this?

While this destruction is happening, Christ is sitting on the throne sovereign over all. ISIS may think they are re-writing history, however the real author and finisher of history is enthroned in heaven (Acts 17:26). In His forbearance He allows mankind to continue to act in evil ways according to their nature. If God were at this moment to give ISIS and mankind what they deserve from the evil being committed, no one would survive. Because God is not only going to judge the ISIS fighter, He is also going to judge the blasphemer, the liar, the thief, the man or women speaking filth or looking at porn. All will be judge when He calls the world into account. Therefore, we should thank God for the grace He extends towards us by withholding this judgement allowing a time of repentance. Consequently, let us turn from our sins and look to Christ, who can wash us and cleanse us from our sinful nature through the cross and His blood He shed on Calvary.


  1. http://creation.com/egypt-chronology
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/04/07/an-exhibition-in-iran-will-mock-the-holocaust/
  3. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150901-isis-destruction-looting-ancient-sites-iraq-syria-archaeology/
  4. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/14/how-isis-reduced-the-ancient-world-of-nimrud-to-rubble.html
  5. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2986275/Have-ISIS-destroyed-ancient-city-Iraq-investigating-reports-jihadists-looted-blown-former-700BC-Assyrian-capital-near-Mosul.html