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Photos: Destruction at Syria's Temple of Ain Dara

Ain Dara

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Syrian Human Rights Observatory)

The 3,000-year-old temple of Ain Dara in Syria has reportedly been badly damaged by airstrikes between Jan. 20 and 22, 2018. [Read more about the temple and recent airstrike damage]

Before damage

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Michael Danti)

Ain Dara is located northwest of Aleppo, near Syria's border with Turkey. The temple is just south of the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin, which became the target of a Turkish military operation in January 2018. This photo shows the temple in 2010.

Iron Age temple

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Michael Danti)

The Neo-Hittite temple was built in the early first millennium B.C., at the beginning of the Iron Age.

Carving closeup

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Michael Danti)

A 2010 photo shows the temple's basalt "orthostats" (architectural blocks) that were carved with abstract as well as animal-inspired designs.

Ain Dara lion

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Michael Danti)

This 2010 image shows a colossal lion carved out of stone standing guard at the site of the temple

Feet fit for a god

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Michael Danti)

The doorways leading to the temple's interior spaces had limestone paving carved with giant footprints, thought to represent the footprints of a deity.

Footprints erased?

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Michael Danit)

The carvings are believed to have been heavily damaged in the strike.

Temple in ruins

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Syrian Human Rights Observatory)

Photos taken after the airstrike show that many of these sculptures appear to have been damaged. The destruction at the temple was condemned by the Syrian antiquities department, which called Ain Dara "one of the most important monuments built by the Aramaeans in Syria during the 1st millennium BC."

Rubble at Ain Dara

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Syrian Human Rights Observatory)

The American Schools of Oriental Research's (ASOR) Cultural Heritage Initiatives collaboration analyzed the on-the-ground and satellite images taken of the site to assess the damage. The group concluded that much of the damage took place the central and southeastern portions of the building.

Wrecked sculptures

syrian temple at ain dara destruction

(Image credit: Syrian Human Rights Observatory)

The ASOR group said that many of the orthostats had been "blasted into fragments" and the limestone paving was "badly damaged."