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The Lion of al-Lat

The fearsome 2,000-year-old statue, regarded as one of the symbols of Palmyra.

The Museum of Lost Objects traces the histories of 10 antiquities or cultural sites that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria.

The Lion of al-Lat was a protective spirit, the consort of a Mesopotamian goddess. This 2,000 year old statue was one of the first things the so-called Islamic State destroyed when they took Palmyra in 2015. The Polish archaeologist Michal Gawlikowski recalls discovering the lion during an excavation in the 1970s, and we explore the wider symbolism of lions and power and how this was appropriated by modern rulers including Bashar al-Assad's own ancestors.

Contributors: Michal Gawlikowski, Warsaw University; Zahed Tajeddin, artist and archaeologist; Augusta McMahon, University of Cambridge; Lamia al-Gailani, SOAS

Presenter: Kanishk Tharoor
Producer: Maryam Maruf

Picture: Lion of al-Lat
Credit: Michal Gawlikowski

With thanks to Sarah Collins of the British Museum.

Available now

12 minutes

Museum of Lost Objects ‒ The Podcast

Museum of Lost Objects ‒ The Podcast

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About presenter Kanishk Tharoor...

About presenter Kanishk Tharoor...

Revealing the treasures of the Museum of Lost Objects