The mystery is now solved as Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, recognized the open page in the photograph as from an essay in a book she had used before: M. Sartre, "La Syrie sous la domination achéménide," in W. Orthmann and J.-M. Dentzer, Archéologie et Histoire de la Syrie II (Saarbrücken, 1989). Compare photographs of the book seized from the militants and the same example in the ANS library (see more images here).
|'New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation’|
(c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci, Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015
|The book in the ANS Library.|
In discussing the identification of the book, she concludes:
"For people interested in a general overview of coins from Syria, this book is indeed helpful. Articles by Christian Augé on “La monnaie en Syrie à l’époque hellénistique et romaine” (pp. 149–190, with four plates illustrating 71 coins) and by Cécile Morrisson (who won the ANS Huntington Medal in 1995) on “La monnaie en Syrie byzantine” provide excellent and well-illustrated introductions to the coins of this region. Her article gives a considerable amount of detailed scholarly information on site finds of coins in Syria."
"So this is an extremely unlikely find—a scholarly, not exactly inexpensive, and heavy—book on the archaeology of Syria in the hands of ISIS fighters. If anyone doubts the multifaceted connections between looted antiquities and war in Syria, this discovery has to make one wonder." (emphasis added)