There is something strange writing about comparative archaeology, as I am doing in this “First Person,” when what is probably the most horrific deliberate destruction of archaeological remains in modern times is occurring at the hands of ISIS—most recently at Palmyra in Syria and before that at Mosul, Aleppo, Nineveh and Nimrud. Moreover, this has most recently been accompanied by the assassination of professionals who devoted their lives to studying and preserving these antiquities.

As I write, today’s New York Times reports that “the cumulative destruction of antiquities has reached staggering levels that represent an irreversible loss to world heritage and future scholarship.”

Beyond that what can be said? We abhor what these detestable extreme Islamists are doing. No civilized culture would engage in this behavior. Yet more civilized, non-Islamist Islamic cultures and other world powers all seem helpless to stop them.

Perhaps all we can do as a Biblical archaeology magazine is to go on doing what it is our mission to do—share information about archaeology in the Bible lands—as if so much of the Middle Eastern civilizations were not descending in horror.