I recently saw a video released by Islamic State purportedly showing militants smashing up priceless Assyrian antiquities with sledgehammers in a museum in Mosul, the Iraqi city that has been under the group's control since June. My jaw dropped in disbelief. If these were ancient artefacts, many date back thousands of years and would normally have appeared in important museum exhibitions. Not only are such items rare, they are also of high historical value. Sitting thousands of miles away, inside the bubble that is Hong Kong, I felt pain, anger and great loss. Worse still, what the militants don't smash up, they apparently sell on the black market. With 4,500 archaeological sites estimated to be under the control of IS, the opportunity to fuel their blood-thirsty terror campaign through the sale of "blood antiques" seems endless. These extremists - who can now add cultural terrorism to their list of crimes - believe the statues are false gods and want to crush what they call "non-Islamic ideas". Excuse me, which era are we living in? The Byzantine? Not only are these antiquities beautiful, they also shed light on past civilisations. They help us to understand how societies and cultures have evolved, and who we are today. What future is there for people who want to eradicate remnants of the past? There was a time when we worried about being wiped out by asteroids, natural disasters and viruses, but judging by the state of the world today, the thing most likely to push us into extinction is the human race itself. Kevin Kwong is the South China Morning Post 's arts editor.