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WAR & HERITAGE: IS ANCIENT IRAQ BEING PROTECTED? (Museums may not have been looted)
Archaeology Magazine ^ | March 27, 2003 | Marisa Macari

Posted on 04/12/2003 11:13:13 PM PDT by Servant of the Nine

At a U.S. Central Command briefing on March 26, 2003, it was stated that Iraqi forces have placed military and communications equipment near the 2,000-year-old Ctesiphon arch located on the banks of the Tigris. This situation, similar to Iraq's deliberate placement of fighter planes near the 4,000-year-old ziggurat at Ur during the 1991 Gulf War, illustrates the threat of destruction plaguing the cradle of civilization.

Iraqi officials reported in 1992 that 4,000 artifacts went missing during the Gulf War. Only 20 had been returned by 1998. Post-war sanctions on Iraq limited the government's financial ability to preserve antiquities, protect sites, and enforce cultural property laws. Conflict in Afghanistan has had similar consequences. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the fall of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1992, attacks to control Kabul resulted in the looting of seventy percent of its coin collection. More recently, the Taliban destroyed un-Islamic artifacts at the Kabul Museum, and an impoverished population continues to plunder its culturally rich sites.

Incited by a pattern of post-war archaeological disruption, there is currently an international effort among archaeologists and art dealers alike to mitigate cultural damage in Iraq. Officials at the Baghdad Museum have placed their stone sculptures in sandbags to protect them from 'ground-shaking' bombs. They have also painted "UNESCO" on the roof of their museum to mark its cultural significance and to avoid its being a target of an air strike. The staff is now living in the museum to prevent potential plundering and has been trained to transport artifacts filling thirty-two exhibition rooms to secret locations in just one day.

In the United States, art collectors and dealers including Ashton Hawkins, former counsel to New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, have formed the American Council for Cultural Policy to help defend and preserve Iraq's cultural sites and artifacts. They met with U.S. Defense and State officials in early January to inform them of the thousands of archaeological sites dotting the Iraqi landscape to protect against their unnecessary destruction. However, many have not regarded their efforts as solely philanthropic. Art lawyer and AIA member Patty Gerstenblith remarks that "one has the strong sense that this group is using this discussion as a pretext for their ultimate goal: to change Iraq's treatment of archaeological objects." Indeed, the Council seeks to revamp the Cultural Property Implementation Act so that the U.S. cannot be as easily blocked from importing foreign antiquities. Additionally, Hawkins has recommended that the Cairo Museum increase its budget by providing incentive to its financial donors, such as rewarding each of its patrons with 50 Egyptian artifacts. These suggestions have led archaeologists to view the Council's actions as an attempt to shake foreign nations' stringent regulations on ownership and export of artifacts. AIA president Jane C. Waldbaum has declared the Institute's position on the matter and rallies for nations to support Iraq's current laws.

In regard to the current situation in Iraq, government officials have mentioned their use of smart bombs and precision weapons to limit cultural damage. However, after only eight-days of fighting in Iraq, UNESCO commented today that historic sites have already been affected. A television broadcast showed live footage of Baghdad's Al-Zohour Palace--home to many works of art--being bombed. It has also been rumored that the National Museum of Baghdad was accidentally hit in an attack. UNESCO staunchly urges the U.S. to respect Iraq's heritage.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancienthistory; antiquities; archaeology; baghdad; baghdadmuseum; economic; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; iia; iraq; iraqifreedom; looting; museum; museums; war
From the Red Tagged Sentence it seems probable that the staff emptied the Museum 3 weeks ago when the bombing started.

The Video from the museum did not look right for a looted building. EVERYTHING was taken, no matter how valueless it seemed. Every place I have ever seen pictured after looting has had broken bits and pieces left behind.
I think the hopeful looters did break up display cases when they found nothing to take.

Mesopotamia was the birthplace of civilization and this material is important to understanding our history. Far more important than say, The Pyramids.

So9

1 posted on 04/12/2003 11:13:13 PM PDT by Servant of the Nine
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2 posted on 04/12/2003 11:15:01 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Servant of the Nine
I pray that you are right, and that the stuff is safe. We shall see.
3 posted on 04/12/2003 11:16:11 PM PDT by Torie
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To: Servant of the Nine
Nice catch!
4 posted on 04/12/2003 11:16:30 PM PDT by EaglesUpForever (russia and france are hypocritical lying scum)
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To: EaglesUpForever
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5 posted on 04/12/2003 11:17:22 PM PDT by MonroeDNA (Communists & Socialists: They only survive through lies.)
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To: Servant of the Nine
I sure hope so.
6 posted on 04/12/2003 11:17:58 PM PDT by MattAMiller (Iraq was liberated in my name, how about yours?)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Servant of the Nine; Lauratealeaf; terilyn
So9, this was a great find...and I agree with your analysis. Thanks!
8 posted on 04/12/2003 11:23:28 PM PDT by Fracas
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To: Fracas
I read a Yahoo News article about the museum and the administrator (last name George) said that they had armed guards and would defend it. So, the emotional accusation of the woman in the Reuters article doesn't add up.
9 posted on 04/12/2003 11:26:13 PM PDT by Lauratealeaf (Iraqis say, Good, Very Good, Bush Good!)
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To: Lauratealeaf
You're so right - unless you consider the source. IMO, Reuters is emotional about nearly everything critical of the US and our military in particular.
10 posted on 04/12/2003 11:31:34 PM PDT by Fracas
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To: Fracas
You are right. Remember when Reuters reported that our military was going to "pause for four to six days"? Some pause!
11 posted on 04/12/2003 11:35:13 PM PDT by Lauratealeaf (Iraqis say, Good, Very Good, Bush Good!)
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To: Servant of the Nine
>>>>Mesopotamia was the birthplace of civilization and this material is important to understanding our history. Far more important than say, The Pyramids.<<<<<

Yes,far more important and easier to transport than a Pyramid

12 posted on 04/12/2003 11:39:35 PM PDT by DTA
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To: seamole
"I would not be surprised at all if the Baathists took this stuff with them when they left town. The Nazis did. "

---

An excellent point, and you could really be right. I saw one of the reporters on TV showing one of Saddam's palaces and said that it was totally cleaned out, all furniture was gone, but it was NOT looters, it looked like when someone moved out, no broken pieces left, just everything was gone, and it happened before any looting started, because by that time US soldiers had secured it, so probably Saddam took it.

When we start to think along those lines, we've been threatening him for a year, he had plenty of time to take out all his valuables (including museum pieces) and take them out of the country to safe places.
13 posted on 04/13/2003 12:02:54 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: Servant of the Nine
And thank GOD that some really important pieces are resting peacefully in the British Museum ! :-)
14 posted on 04/13/2003 12:07:32 AM PDT by nopardons
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To: Torie
>>>>>I pray that you are right, and that the stuff is safe. We shall see<<<<

Too late !!! The liberation of archeological artifacts has started

As forewarned by The Sunday Herald

15 posted on 04/13/2003 1:03:29 AM PDT by DTA
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To: Servant of the Nine
Interesting...
16 posted on 04/13/2003 2:14:26 AM PDT by k2blader ("Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful." - C. S. Lewis)
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To: Lauratealeaf
Remember when Reuters reported that our military was going to "pause for four to six days"? Some pause!

Reuters lies, just like CNN. They just throw stuff out there and move on, hoping some of it will stick in the minds of readers who don't doublecheck.

17 posted on 04/13/2003 4:48:02 AM PDT by laz17 (Socialism is the religion of the atheist.)
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To: nopardons
"And thank GOD that some really important pieces are resting peacefully in the British Museum ! :-)"

Yo, Elgins!
Back on the walls-
You're not going anywhere!
18 posted on 04/13/2003 7:55:32 AM PDT by APBaer
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To: laz17
Reuters lies, just like CNN. They just throw stuff out there and move on, hoping some of it will stick in the minds of readers who don't doublecheck.

Evidentally there are quite a few of those reactionary readers right here at Free Republic. One actually said on another thread that our soldiers lives are not as important as those museum artifacts. I kid you not!

19 posted on 04/13/2003 8:26:50 AM PDT by Lauratealeaf (Iraqis say, Good, Very Good, Bush Good!)
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To: Servant of the Nine
I hope and pray it is so.
20 posted on 04/13/2003 8:32:39 AM PDT by Fifth Business
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To: Servant of the Nine
LONG 250+ thread about this link here
21 posted on 04/13/2003 9:05:15 AM PDT by Drango (Two wrongs don't make a right...but three lefts do!)
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To: Lauratealeaf
"Evidentally there are quite a few of those reactionary readers right here at Free Republic. One actually said on another thread that our soldiers lives are not as important as those museum artifacts. I kid you not!"

That was me. And I am telling you right this minute in front of God and everybody that there are material things in this world that people should risk thier lives for and that people risk thier lives to protect property every day. We call them firemen, and policemen and armed guards and soldiers. That's thier job and they are trained for it so they don't get killed. What's the use of being free without property and knowledge and wonders to marvel over... you pinhead. Our government should have protected that museum: we have the money, the skill, the manpower and the common sense to know that it would be a target of looters. And no soldier would have been in any more danger than on the battlefield, probably it would be less dangerous. This should not be brushed under the rug. We are not barbarians. If we could have protected this and we didn't then we need to do everything we can to get the stuff back including a literal Act of Congress consisting of a public pledge to go to extreme lengths to do everything in our power to restore this museum.

22 posted on 04/13/2003 9:31:11 AM PDT by Theresa (on)
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To: Theresa
If we could have protected this and we didn't then we need to do everything we can to get the stuff back including a literal Act of Congress consisting of a public pledge to go to extreme lengths to do everything in our power to restore this museum.

Alas, I fear that will be a daunting task. This is a far bigger loss/disaster than most people here even realize.

23 posted on 04/13/2003 10:40:33 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer
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To: Theresa; Fracas; terilyn; laz17
And no soldier would have been in any more danger than on the battlefield, probably it would be less dangerous.

You sound similar to Nancy Pelosi who said, "We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less." With every word you post you are proving more and more how little you know or appreciate about the soldiers who have fought and died in Iraq. Even on this wonderful day when the POWs have been found you are still fussing about the looting.

24 posted on 04/13/2003 12:22:34 PM PDT by Lauratealeaf (Iraqis say, Good, Very Good, Bush Good!)
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To: Lauratealeaf
"You sound similar to Nancy Pelosi who said, "We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less." With every word you post you are proving more and more how little you know or appreciate about the soldiers who have fought and died in Iraq."

If you were on fire and the Mona Lisa was on fire and I had one bucket of water I would pour it on you. But if I knew ahead of time that you would both catch fire and I did not plan to bring enough water and man power to save you both it would be inexplicably stupid.

I find it inexplicably stupid that we did not even try to save the museum given that we managed to save the oil wells. We started this war and we should have done something or at least try to do something. I don't feel a bit guilty about pointing that out and pointing out that it has nothing to do with not appreciating the troops.

25 posted on 04/13/2003 12:53:25 PM PDT by Theresa (on)
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To: Servant of the Nine
I sure hope this is true. The rest of the looting didn't bother me but the looting of the museum made me cringe every one of the thousands of times it has been mentioned.
26 posted on 04/13/2003 12:54:28 PM PDT by tiki
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To: APBaer
Those are GREEK; but, you got the idea. :-)

Actually, I was referring to the lapis & gold sheep from Ur and the HUGE winged, many creatures in one statues, that Saddam had recreated ( because the Brits had the originals ) with his face on the new ones .

27 posted on 04/13/2003 2:33:05 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Theresa; Fracas; terilyn
If you were on fire and the Mona Lisa was on fire and I had one bucket of water I would pour it on you. But if I knew ahead of time that you would both catch fire and I did not plan to bring enough water and man power to save you both it would be inexplicably stupid.

If I were on fire I would drop and roll and not expect help from the likes of you. I see you are still quite hysterical today. As I write this there is still a firefight going on in Baghdad. That's keeping the troops pretty busy. I haven't noticed any compassion or care expressed by you for our troops. That tells me what I need to know about you.

28 posted on 04/13/2003 2:37:42 PM PDT by Lauratealeaf (Iraqis say, Good, Very Good, Bush Good!)
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To: nopardons
"HUGE winged, many creatures in one statues"

Got one of the beasties right here on Fifth Avenue, and he's become a New Yorker.

29 posted on 04/13/2003 2:49:27 PM PDT by APBaer
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To: Lauratealeaf
It has nothing to do with "compassion" for the troops.
30 posted on 04/13/2003 3:18:15 PM PDT by Theresa (on)
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To: APBaer
That's the one ! Does the Met have one now ? They didn't have one before.

The British Museum has several pair and they're HUGE !

31 posted on 04/13/2003 8:19:05 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nopardons
Yes, they have two of them, they stood guard at the entrance to the great palace of Ashurnasirpal II. The Met also has many wall panels from the same palace. Check out the number of legs on the animals, they have five. This is so that seen head-on the two front legs are together, but when seen from the side the animal is striding forward. The cone-like head covering signifies a mystical creature of great power.

Check this out:
http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/department.asp?dep=3
32 posted on 04/13/2003 8:26:48 PM PDT by APBaer
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To: APBaer
Yes, I know all about them , from reading AND seeing them many times, in the British Museum.

As a born & bred Manhattanite, I prictically lived in the Met ; heck, I could tell where dust had fallen and not been cleaned off yet, between my visits. Even after moving to Chicago, I came back and took my kiddo there and relived my own childhood memories. :-)

Do you know when the Met acquired those things ? I don't remember reading about them before I stopped my N.Y. Times subscription and the N.Y. Post has NEVER run an article about the Met getting them. It must be rather recent ... right ?

33 posted on 04/13/2003 8:32:30 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nopardons
They got "Human-headed Winged Bull and Winged Lion (Lamassu), ca. 883–859 B.C. Northern Mesopotamian. Alabaster (gypsum). Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932", but I do not think they went on display until much later.

The Met has built a special room on the second floor for these treasures. Around the walls of which are the large wall panels. I have a recollection that much after the British Museum put their panels on display someone was doing a thesis on how the British Museum got the panels. This led to a school in England where the additional panels (now at the Met) were thought to be mere copies of what went to the British Museum. But it turned out that they were half of the original amount and not copies. The Met bought them and built the very large display space.
34 posted on 04/13/2003 8:41:18 PM PDT by APBaer
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To: nopardons
This is what just one of the panels looks like:
http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/view1.asp?dep=3&item=32%2E143%2E4
35 posted on 04/13/2003 8:43:44 PM PDT by APBaer
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To: APBaer
That new display room MUST be quite recent ! I can tell you, catagorically,and as an eyewitness, first hand, that these staues and wall panels were NOT on display from the 1940s through 1990 or so ! At one time, I knew every inch of public display in the Met. LOL

The vast majority of the Cloisters' collection ( as well as the land ) is from the donations of the Rockefellers too. If it weren't for them, much of this unreplaceable art work, would NOT be in N.Y.C. !

Many thanks for posting all of this neat info. I guess that a trip to the Met, by me, is called for. :-)

36 posted on 04/13/2003 8:57:24 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; Servant of the Nine
Just adding this to the GGG homepage, not sending a general distribution.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.

37 posted on 07/20/2004 10:21:31 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: Servant of the Nine

If anything does go missing they might want to search the hotel room of these UNESCO people. After the oil-for-food thing I'm not sure I'd want to trust the UN to guard the artifacts.


38 posted on 07/21/2004 8:46:00 AM PDT by DeuceTraveler (Freedom is a never ending struggle)
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