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Iraq Museum Reopens After 10 Years Iraq Museum Reopens After 10 Years Iraq Museum Reopens After 10 Years

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  • sharon
    Iraq Museum Reopens After 10 Years By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The Iraq Museum reopened its doors after 10 years with a
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2000
      Iraq Museum Reopens After 10 Years

      By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer

      BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The Iraq Museum
      reopened its doors after 10 years with a
      display of 10,000 artifacts taking visitors
      to the roots of the Mesopotamian civilization
      that invented one of the world's earliest
      writing forms nearly 5,000 years ago.

      The relics ranged from simple farming tools
      used around 6,000 B.C. to colossal
      winged-bull statues the Assyrians installed
      at their city gates to instill fear in enemies.

      The treasures, put back on show Saturday,
      were removed for safekeeping shortly
      before the outbreak of the 1991 Gulf War, in which a U.S.-led coalition
      ejected Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Officials have
      been discussing the reopening for two years, saying the risk of
      airstrikes had lessened.

      Some 200,000 other pieces remain tucked away in Baghdad warehouses,
      according to Muayad Saaeed, Iraq's most
      prominent archaeologist. In the next few months, 10,000 more objects
      are to be added to the display, said Rabie al-Qaysi
      of the Antiquities Department.

      Iraq's economy has been crippled by U.N. trade sanctions that were
      imposed to punish Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait.
      Iraq kept the costs of reopening the museum down by doing little in the
      way of renovating the long-disused building.

      At the reopening ceremony, the museum's
      21 halls were clean, well lit and air
      conditioned, as visitors and tourists
      streamed through. Al-Qaysi has imposed a 50
      cent entrance fee.

      ``It is very beautiful. The items are
      gorgeous,'' said Michael Weigl, professor of
      ancient Near Eastern Studies at Vienna
      University.

      Weigl said he intended to organize scientific excursions for his
      students in Austria to come to Iraq and visit the museum.

      France's charge d'affaires in Baghdad, Garancher Bernard, said his
      country had helped by giving back some duplicates of
      Iraqi treasures in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

      Visitors were ushered first into the prehistoric hall, which displayed
      implements used during the Neolithic age - such as
      hammers, grinding stones and sickle-blades.

      ``These are the earliest farming tools in the world,'' museum director
      Hana Abdulkhaliq said.

      Several halls brimmed with Mesopotamian clay figurines, including those
      of the mother goddess, the symbol of fertility
      and reproduction. Other hallmark pieces of the period included clay
      amulets, jars and pottery shards showing natural
      scenes of birds painted in vivid and lustrous colors.

      Relics of the Sumerians of southern Iraq, over whose ethnic and
      linguistic roots scientists are still puzzling, occupied the
      heart of the museum. Pieces included clay tablets with cuneiform
      writing that played the role of today's books - as well as
      cylinder seals the Sumerians used as signatures and passed on to the
      ancient nations that later ruled Iraq and the Middle
      East.
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