The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago mourns the brutal murder by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIL, ISIS, or Da’ish) of Khaled al-As'ad, the retired Antiquities Director for the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.

Palmyra, a caravan city on the edge of the Syrian desert is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its historical significance as part of the Silk Road, its beautifully preserved architecture and magnificent sculptures.

The 81 year old Mr. al-As'ad was arrested, tortured, and beheaded for refusing to reveal the location of antiquities from Palmyra that he had hidden away to prevent them from being looted and sold on the illicit antiquities market. 

We condemn this brutal and senseless act. We mourn the loss of a scholar and courageous man who gave his life to protect the irreplaceable cultural heritage of Palmyra, and Syria more generally.