Young and superb talented Moscow based photographer, Sergey Ponomarev captured maybe the last photographs of Palmyra, after ISIL takeover. Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. Sergey photographed Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra when he visited the ruins last year.
Islamic State militants seized control of Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, ancient Semitic city that was first attested in the early second millennium BC as a caravan stop for travelers crossing the Syrian Desert. Palmyra has escaped the catastrophic destruction visited upon the Old City of Aleppo, a battleground since the summer of 2012. The Islamic State call their destruction of cultural sites a strike against idolatry: the possibility that militants would begin destroying the historic metropolis.
A defence force soldier stands guard. Palmyra’s ruins were part of a desert oasis that was one of the most significant cultural centres of the ancient world
A Syrian man inspects the ruins of the Temple of Bel. The ancient site is in a strategically important area between the capital, Damascus, and Deir al-Zour
Palmyra is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity. The site was put on Unesco’s World Heritage ‘in danger’ list in 2013
The Temple of Bel was constructed in the first century. Palmyra’s ancient monuments lie on the south-western fringe of the city
Islamic State considers the preservation of such historical ruins a form of idolatry
Isis has destroyed such historic artefacts and temples before, and Palmyra is likely to face a similar fate
Loss of the Unesco world heritage site would be ‘an enormous loss to humanity’, the UN’s cultural organisation has said
A street vendor at work in Tedmor
Soldiers ride in convoy on a street in Tedmor, Palmyra. The loss of the city and its surrounding gas fields is a strategic defeat for the regime of Bashar al-Assad
Syrian soldiers gather at a Palmyra museum. Hundreds of statues have been moved to safe locations, but many significant artefacts remain
Customers wait to see a barber in Tedmor during calmer times. Tens of thousands of Palmyra residents have since fled the besieged city, the UN has said
A busy evening in Tedmor. Isis has since overrun much of Palmyra and is thought to control more than 50% of Syria