Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Art and Design
Throughout 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS) was a major news story for its destruction of Ancient Near Eastern collections and heritage sites, which created a spectacle across media. The focus of ISIS’s infamous video uploaded in February of 2015 was the colossal statue of a Lamassu, which was an ancient Assyrian guard deity. By focusing on the Lamassu, this thesis aims to address the Western concept of a “cradle of civilization” and ISIS’s motivation for destroying the sculpture. I utilize Kwame Appiah’s philosophy of cosmopolitanism in order to flesh out the language in which ISIS is communicating, namely through its destruction. What becomes apparent is a complex relationship with Near Eastern antiquities, which is best understood by analyzing the motivations of local looters. To conclude, I use ISIS’s destruction in order to offer thoughts on the concept of destruction with an aim to open dialogue regarding differing cultural value systems.
Bearden, Lauren, "Complex Destruction: Near Eastern Antiquities and the ISIS Spectacle." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2016.