The Islamic State reportedly beheaded an 82-year-old antiquities scholar because he would not tell militants the locations of precious artifacts.
According to The Guardian, Khaled al-Asaad was killed by the terror group in front of dozens of people in Palmyra, Syria on Tuesday.
His body was then hanged on a stone column at an archeological site, a Syrian state news source reported.
For over 50 years, al-Asaad was in charge of preserving artifacts from the 2,000-year-old city of Palmyra, which was seized by the Islamic State in May.
He also wrote scholarly texts on the city, worked with international teams to excavate ancient tombs and temples and helped restore ancient parts of Palmyra, The Washington Post reports.
Talking about al-Asaad, Amr al-Azm, a former Syrian antiquities official who ran the country's science and conservation labs, reportedly said,
He was a fixture, you can't write about Palmyra's history or anything to do with Palmyrian work without mentioning Khaled Asaad. He had a huge repository of knowledge on the site, and that's going to be missed. He knew every nook and cranny. That kind of knowledge is irreplaceable, you can't just buy a book and read it and then have that.
Al-Asaad was allegedly captured by the Islamic State over a month ago. Sources say he helped move hundreds of Palmyra artifacts to secret locations to prevent the militant group from destroying them.
The Islamic State views artifacts that are pre-Islamic as sacrilegious and has, therefore, ravaged many ancient structures in Iraq and Syria.
In addition to handling "idols," the group apparently also charged al-Asaad with loyalty to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. The Guardian suggests the Islamic State wanted to sell the hidden Palmyra artifacts for profit.
This practice, along with oil sales and extortion, is reportedly responsible for a great deal of the group's revenue.
Citations: Beheaded Syrian scholar refused to lead Isis to hidden Palmyra antiquities (The Guardian), Islamic State reportedly beheads antiquities scholar 82 who oversaw Palmyra ruins (Washington Post)