Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

IRAQ: Treasure Hunters Destroy Archaeological Sites

Expand Messages
  • Paul
    UNWIRE 230503 http://www.unwire.org/unwire/2003/05/23/current.asp#33893 IRAQ: Treasure Hunters Destroy Archaeological Sites Treasure hunters and indiscriminate
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      UNWIRE 230503
      http://www.unwire.org/unwire/2003/05/23/current.asp#33893


      IRAQ: Treasure Hunters Destroy Archaeological Sites

      Treasure hunters and indiscriminate looters continue to tear into Iraqi
      archaeological sites, stealing urns, statues, vases and other artifacts that
      often date back more than 3,000 years to the Sumer and Babylonian
      civilizations, the New York Times reports today.

      At Isan Bakhriat, a remote site in the southern Iraqi desert, men armed with
      shovels, knives and semi-automatic weapons are reportedly digging up
      treasures with impunity.

      "We believe that every major site in southern Iraq is in danger," said the
      director of Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, Donny George.
      Iraq, which occupies what was once ancient Mesopotamia, has more than 10,000
      registered archaeological sites. Experts said the sites most at risk are 15
      to 20 major sites at the locations of ancient cities such as Larsa, Fara and
      Erech.

      U.S. forces have been blamed for not doing enough to protect the sites. They
      were sharply criticized after Iraq's National Museum and other archival
      sites were looted at the end of the war. "We used to have guards," George
      said, "but now they are either pushed away by looters or they are working
      with thieves themselves in one way or another."

      According to the Times, the current looting is reminiscent of widespread
      plundering that took place after the 1991 Gulf War. Those raids were said to
      be organized by outside gangs from neighboring countries, which would fence
      the artifacts in Western art markets. After 1991, material from Iraq, which
      had until then been rare, grew so prevalent that Iraqi artifacts are now
      regularly advertised on eBay and can sell for less than $100, the Times
      reports.

      "They are poor people," said Susanne Osthoff, an archaeologist who worked on
      the site at Isan, of the looters, "but they do not understand what they are
      doing" (Edmund Andrews, New York Times, May 23).
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.