According The ancient Byzantine fortress of Zalabiyeh was mysteriously abandoned in the 8th Century. According to a new article by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson in The Independent, a new Syrian dam will make solving that mystery impossible.
The site of the fortress contains archaeological gems from every age that humans have lived in the area. Dr. Emma Loosely was quoted in the Independent, “Assyrian, Roman, Arab – it is an astonishing area to work in and one of the most important in the world”. Many societies have utilized the commanding heights of the fortress, and they each left a distinct mark. The knowledge to be gained, and the priceless and beautiful objects yet undiscovered are considered a small price to pay for hydroelectric power by the Syrian government. But why should this be the case? Why should humanity value furthering our own already supremely adequate comfort over preserving beautiful things? What makes the glories of the past less important than allowing our populations to grow to catastrophic levels? These questions seem to be going unasked and unanswered in the debate over Zalabiyeh.
So far, no one has mentioned the poetic similarities between this flooding of a Euphrates valley and the biblical Deluge of the same. Just as Noah had to accommodate the wishes of a wrathful and unmoved God and work to preserve the animals of the world from obliteration, so, modern archaeologists are being forced to act to preserve whatever they can of the site before its destruction. It is unlikely that they will be able to do much with limited resources and cooperation from Syrian authorities.