For a half-century, Khaled Asaad devoted his life to the antiquities of Palmyra, a UNESCO Heritage site located northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus. A scholar of Aramaic, Asaad wrote extensively about pre-Islamic life in Syria and was a fixture of international archaeological conferences. Unfortunately, the ruins he worked among could not preserve his life because on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015, the cruel and ultimately depraved Islamic militants from the Islamic State beheaded Asaad in a Palmyra town square ISIS then hung the 82-year-old’s corpse from a Roman column like he was a dog.
Palmyra flourished in antiquity as an important trading hub along the Silk Road. Asaad had worked over the past few decades with US, French, German and Swiss archaeological missions on excavations and research in Palmyra’s famed 2,000-year-old ruins, a Unesco world heritage site that includes Roman tombs and the Temple of Bel, the pagan god mentioned in the Old Testament as being worshipped by the Canaanites and with whom Gideon fought against in the Book of Judges.