Imagining Localities of Antiquity in Islamic Societies | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2045-5895
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5909


This article aims to conceptualize some of the varied ways Muslims have engaged with antiquity over time. Beginning with the example of Palmyra, it argues that the restoration of the Temple of Bel by the French archaeological team led by Henri Seyrig in the early twentieth century and the destruction of that same temple by ISIS in 2015 are both ideological acts oriented toward reviving an imagined and idealized past. While ISIS erased the remains of the ancient site recreated by the French, the French had previously erased 1,800 years of Christian and Muslim heritage at Palmyra. Both actions are the outcome of the logic inherent in globalized, cosmopolitan heritage ideals. As a means of moving beyond the problematic discourse of the globalized heritage model in which certain heritage values are ‘authorized’ and others are not, the article then proposes an initial conceptualization of imaginings of heritage in Islamic societies over time, suggesting a range of diverse ways Muslims have valued and continue to value ancient localities, and introduces the articles contained in this special issue.


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  • Article Type: Editorial
Keyword(s): antiquity; cultural heritage; ISIS; Islamic heritage; Palmyra; ‘aja’ib
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