ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Today, we learned that one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman structures in the Middle East, the Temple of Bel, has, in fact, been destroyed by ISIS. This still wasn't clear when we talked yesterday with archaeologist Michael Danti about the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria. He told us about the calculated and methodical destruction of the country's pre-Islamic heritage, and he described the Temple of Bel.
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MICHAEL DANTI: It's where most people visited when they went to the site. And the site is huge, with subterranean features, subterranean tombs, tower tombs. There's a medieval fortress that overlooks the entire site. But the Temple of Bel essentially was the center point of it, and we had been waiting for ISIL to detonate these IEDs for some time.
SIEGEL: There had been conflicting reports about a massive explosion at the site over the weekend. But last night, the United Nations confirmed that ISIS has destroyed most of the Temple of Bel complex. Satellite imagery shows the before and after of what was once an extensive set of walls, archways and columns now reduced to one freestanding gateway. Palmyra had survived 2000 years as a symbol of the region's rich and layered cultural heritage. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.