Satellite Imagery Confirms Destruction of Iraq’s Oldest Christian Monastery

Satellite imagery is frequently used to detect changes on the earth’s surface, such as the deforestation of our rainforests or the building damage following an earthquake. Well this week satellite imagery has been employed to assess the damage in the wake of the ISIS soldiers in Iraq, and the results are archeologically terrible.

St Elijah’s monastery which was built in 590AD has stood as a place of worship for 1400 years, and was used as recently as 2010 to commemorate the troops lost in the Middle-East War.

Satellite Imagery Confirms Destruction of Iraq’s Oldest Christian Monastery

However, using imagery from DigitalGlobe, analysts have determined that the monastery has now been completely destroyed and turned into a ‘field of grey dust’. It is believed that ISIS soldiers are responsible, using a series of heavy machinery and explosives to destroy the Christian heritage site, in an attempt to expel the Christian influence from Iraq.

Satellite Imagery Confirms Destruction of Iraq’s Oldest Christian Monastery

 

[Satellite Imagery Confirms Destruction of Iraq’s Oldest Christian Monastery

Image Credit: The Guardian

 

This is not ground-breaking news though, as ISIS soldiers have been found to destroy other heritage sites across the country. This is another example which happened last year, in which we saw the loss of the Palmyra Temple in Syria. Archaeologists and even the US army have been trying to protect such heritage sites from destruction, but the spread of the opposition means that it is almost impossible to protect all vulnerable sites.

If it was not for satellite imagery, we would not be able to assess the destruction of such artefacts due to the dangerous and remote location of the monument. Archaeologists and journalists are unable to travel to such locations, and thus satellite imagery is the only way in! This is the importance of satellite imagery in many applications, during disasters such as earthquake or forest fires, people cannot get to the affected areas and it is often satellite imagery which tells the story long before we can get cameras there.

For more information, please visit BBC News.

 

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