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UK sets up ‘Indiana Jones-style’ team to rescue historic sites from ISIS

The director of the British Museum said he is working with colleagues in Iraq to ‘establish a specialist corps of rescue archaeologists’

Published: Updated:

Britain will set up a team of “rescue archaeologists,” mirroring the fictional archeologist Indiana Jones, to salvage historic site from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, UK paper the Daily Mail reported.

A group of curators from the UK will travel to Iraq, Syria, and Libya where they will work with fellow curators there to identify any items that could be rescued.

Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor said he is working with colleagues in Iraq to “establish a specialist corps of rescue archaeologists” in the embattled country.

The team would be part of an Emergency Heritage Management program the UK is trying to set up.

In addition to attempts to restore damaged ancient sites, the team will make digital recordings of valued areas that are beyond repair in effort to preserve an accurate image for future generations to see.

The 2014 film The Monuments Men told the story of an Allied group at the end of the Second World War that was talked with finding and saving pieces of art and other important items before they were stolen or destroyed by the Nazis.

Separately, politicians plan on introducing legislation that would ratify the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, according to the Mail.

The budget for the fund is yet to be decided and sources quoted by the mail said it would “safeguard the heritage of countries affected by conflict or at risk of coming under attack for ideological reasons.”

“While the UK’s priority will continue to be the human cost of these conflicts, I am in no doubt we must also do what we can to prevent any further cultural destruction. The loss of a country’s heritage threatens its very identity,” Whittingdale said.

ISIS has destroyed priceless antiquities in neighboring Iraq. When the militant group stormed the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, the country’s antiquities chief voiced fears it might devastate the historic site, home to renowned Roman ruins including temples, colonnades and an amphitheatre. The militants later said they would only destroy statues deemed “pagan idols” in the extremist interpretation of Islam they follow.