Archaeologist laments ongoing destruction to Syria's culturally-rich Tell Qarqur
To the untrained eye, it looks like a nondescript hill. But it's a lot more than that.
"[It's] actually composed of superimposed layers of collapsed cultural debris," Jesse Casana tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. "If you were to dig a hole into one of these mounds, what you would see were layer-upon-layer of remains of buildings and other occupational elements — things like trash pits and hearths and all kinds of artifacts."
According to Casana, Tell Qarqur is particularly important because of its longevity as a culturally-significant area.
Casana is now limited to monitoring the site using satellite imaging, part of a larger project to survey the archaeological damage throughout Syria and northern Iraq.
Casana says the extent of the destruction at the archaeological site is disheartening, but says seeing the damage done to the village at the base of Tell Qarqur is particularly hard.
"We invariably develop close relationships with many of the people who live there," Casana explains. "They've been having a very difficult time. They were forced out of their village in 2012, after the military had occupied the site, and today they're living as refugees on the Syrian border. So I guess when I look at these sites, I think a lot about what it means for the people who live in Syria."