Breakdown of the year: Assault on the past

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Science  18 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6267, pp. 1464-1465
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6267.1464-b

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Along with breakthroughs, Science's editors traditionally name a Breakdown of the Year. This year's pick for the worst news in science was the assault on Near East antiquities and scholars by the group known as the Islamic State. In territory under its control—notably Palmyra in Syria and Mosul and Nimrud in Iraq—the IS group has deliberately blown up ancient temples and monuments, vandalized museums, and murdered researchers in an effort to erase the region's pre-Islamic past. UNESCO and other organizations and universities are working to document threatened sites and reduce the IS group's trade in looted artifacts. But despite minor victories, 2015 was a terrible year for world heritage.