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Re: Archaeology and the Iraq war

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  • Susan
    All, I am grateful Stan, that you had the courage to send the excellent article which some might find controvertial, inappropriate, or causing waves, I doubt
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 13, 2007
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      All,

      I am grateful Stan, that you had the courage to send the excellent
      article which some might find controvertial, inappropriate, or
      causing waves, I doubt any at this wonderful site would find that
      so,,.we who are used to faring high waters.

      I was unaware of many of the current happenings mentioned. Hopefully
      others here and members of the international community will openly
      discuss these very matters which have been going on unchecked for
      centuries. I did not see that article at any of nearly a dozen
      related web groups, and I again applaud you.

      Last month I started an early Social Securities retirement from
      formal work, am now doing more traveling plus working long days as a
      flea market vendor at least a couple of days a week, mainly in N.
      Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, camping without electricity, beyond the
      range of my cell phone. Without a laptop, I am unable to be very
      helpful co-hosting this web site. Stan, I know your free time is also
      very scarce. Members here may not be aware of the dozens of spammers
      who have tried to send garbage onto this site; Stan has removed most
      of these readily, I caught a few since becaming co-host several
      months ago.

      Several of this group are members of PreColumbian Inscriptions, the
      Ancient Vikings in America, and Thor-the-Hunter Ohio Rock web sites.
      Each of those groups and others frequently discuss navigation,
      seafaring, ancient water routes, etc. With so few members and posts
      at this site, I have to assume that perhaps Ancient Waterways Society
      may be a duplication of services or proving complicated to members
      having to click into several sites to keep up with Posts. A few have
      found it time-consuming and confusing reading duplicated web links
      and posts at multiple related sites, trying to keep on-track
      following certain lines of thought.

      So, unless we hear otherwise from other members here....

      Regardless whether we continue formally or not, I will
      forever 'travel' enthusiastically under the philosophy and spirit of
      a global, Ancient Waterways Society. I have used the term loosely at
      least ten or fifteen years, gotten into many discussions at meetings,
      conferences, flea markets, and cafes with interested others who have
      noticed the carved wooden "Ancient Waterways Society" sign in the
      back window of my Ford.

      Good homemade food and an open door policy prevails mid-week at my
      little home overlooking the Wisconsin River. Coming in from the
      elements through the kitchen door, one is greeted with another
      wooden "Ancient Waterways Cafe" with logo of ancient Phoenician-type
      ship. I shall ever remain allied with all of you and others in an
      Ancient Waterways Society if I ever meet any of you here, your home,
      at conferences or symposiums. The 'diffusionist' (and nurse) aspect
      of myself will continue to be 'Without Borders'.

      If this web site is closed, it is my hope others will continue to
      feel affiliated with and carry forward the intent behind our society,
      keep it open to international others, much like the ideas behind the
      letter and spirit of "international waters", to share common ground
      beyond the borders of our understandings and nationalisms. As did
      multitudes of many of the very ancient seafarers and coastal peoples.
      Long before people were divided by continent, nation, ven clan and
      tribal groups prior to many of the schisms and divisions of religion
      and the early historic nation-states.

      What came to my mind reading the article Stan sent this week is that
      ongoing disregard, destruction of artifacts and culture, violence,
      greed, and disregard of others as enemies or aliens often results
      when people fail to consider themselves and others as a cross-
      continental collectivity whose ancestry found common roots, along
      ancient, global waterways.

      Feel free to add your own input in regard to continuing or
      discontinuing this site. Since Stan has been doing the lion's share
      of creating the web site and hosting it, I will leave it to his
      descrition. I have enjoyed the correspondence we have had so far and
      am grateful to Stan for setting up,maintaining this fine web site,
      and he and you for all of your posts. We'd met several years ago at
      an Ancient Earthworks Society on the UW Madison, Wisconsin campus and
      discussed the idea behind an Ancient Waterways Societyociety meeting.
      Unfortunately, most of the people I had initially been affiliated
      either do not own a computer or do not opt to share their work or
      insights through web groups.

      I shall list again my personal web site after my salutation; I have
      used it for at least a decade and pertains to my particular 'neck of
      the woods'. You have all expanded my worldview by sharing links and
      insights in regard to ancient waterways you live near or have fared
      along. Feel free to design your own web link. No one owns the
      Ancient Waterways Society name but hopefully will remain open and
      free-spirited as we continue our investigation of the diffusion of
      people, cultures, and goods through the ancient world.

      Cordially,

      M. Susan English
      http://hometown.aol.com/suzenglish/myhomepage/profile.html
      Stan --- In
      ancient_waterways_society@yahoogroups.com, "minnesotastan"
      <minnesotastan@...> wrote:
      >
      > Posting this runs the risk of introducing politics into this
      website,
      > but perhaps it will also stimulate some posts, without which the
      > Ancient Waterways website may as well be closed.
      >
      >
      > from the U.K. Guardian -
      >
      > In Iraq's four-year looting frenzy, the allies have become the
      vandals
      >
      >
      > British and American collusion in the pillaging of Iraq's heritage
      is
      > a scandal that will outlive any passing conflict
      >
      > Simon Jenkins
      > Friday June 8, 2007
      > The Guardian
      >
      > Fly into the American air base of Tallil outside Nasiriya in central
      > Iraq and the flight path is over the great ziggurat of Ur, reputedly
      > the earliest city on earth. Seen from the base in the desert haze or
      > the sand-filled gloom of dusk, the structure is indistinguishable
      from
      > the mounds of fuel dumps, stores and hangars. Ur is safe within the
      > base compound. But its walls are pockmarked with wartime shrapnel
      and
      > a blockhouse is being built over an adjacent archaeological site.
      When
      > the head of Iraq's supposedly sovereign board of antiquities and
      > heritage, Abbas al-Hussaini, tried to inspect the site recently, the
      > Americans refused him access to his own most important monument.
      >
      > Yesterday Hussaini reported to the British Museum on his struggles
      to
      > protect his work in a state of anarchy. It was a heart breaking
      > presentation. Under Saddam you were likely to be tortured and shot
      if
      > you let someone steal an antiquity; in today's Iraq you are likely
      to
      > be tortured and shot if you don't. The tragic fate of the national
      > museum in Baghdad in April 2003 was as if federal troops had invaded
      > New York city, sacked the police and told the criminal community
      that
      > the Metropolitan was at their disposal. The local tank commander was
      > told specifically not to protect the museum for a full two weeks
      after
      > the invasion. Even the Nazis protected the Louvre.
      >
      > When I visited the museum six months later, its then director, Donny
      > George, proudly showed me the best he was making of a bad job. He
      was
      > about to reopen, albeit with half his most important objects stolen.
      > The pro-war lobby had stopped pretending that the looting was
      nothing
      > to do with the Americans, who were shamefacedly helping retrieve
      > stolen objects under the dynamic US colonel, Michael Bogdanos
      (author
      > of a book on the subject). The vigorous Italian cultural envoy to
      the
      > coalition, Mario Bondioli-Osio, was giving generously for
      restoration.
      >
      > The beautiful Warka vase, carved in 3000BC, was recovered though
      > smashed into 14 pieces. The exquisite Lyre of Ur, the world's most
      > ancient musical instrument, was found badly damaged. Clerics in Sadr
      > City were ingeniously asked to tell wives to refuse to sleep with
      > their husbands if looted objects were not returned, with some
      success.
      > Nothing could be done about the fire-gutted national library and the
      > loss of five centuries of Ottoman records (and works by Piccasso and
      > Miro). But the message of winning hearts and minds seemed to have
      got
      > through.
      >
      > Today the picture is transformed. Donny George fled for his life
      last
      > August after death threats. The national museum is not open but
      shut.
      > Nor is it just shut. Its doors are bricked up, it is surrounded by
      > concrete walls and its exhibits are sandbagged. Even the staff
      cannot
      > get inside. There is no prospect of reopening.
      >
      > Hussaini confirmed a report two years ago by John Curtis, of the
      > British Museum, on America's conversion of Nebuchadnezzar's great
      city
      > of Babylon into the hanging gardens of Halliburton. This meant a
      > 150-hectare camp for 2,000 troops. In the process the 2,500-year-old
      > brick pavement to the Ishtar Gate was smashed by tanks and the gate
      > itself damaged. The archaeology-rich subsoil was bulldozed to fill
      > sandbags, and large areas covered in compacted gravel for helipads
      and
      > car parks. Babylon is being rendered archaeologically barren.
      >
      > Meanwhile the courtyard of the 10th-century caravanserai of Khan
      > al-Raba was used by the Americans for exploding captured insurgent
      > weapons. One blast demolished the ancient roofs and felled many of
      the
      > walls. The place is now a ruin.
      >
      > Outside the capital some 10,000 sites of incomparable importance to
      > the history of western civilisation, barely 20% yet excavated, are
      > being looted as systematically as was the museum in 2003. When
      George
      > tried to remove vulnerable carvings from the ancient city of Umma to
      > Baghdad, he found gangs of looters already in place with bulldozers,
      > dump trucks and AK47s.
      >
      > Hussaini showed one site after another lost to archaeology in a
      > four-year "looting frenzy". The remains of the 2000BC cities of Isin
      > and Shurnpak appear to have vanished: pictures show them replaced
      by a
      > desert of badger holes created by an army of some 300 looters.
      > Castles, ziggurats, deserted cities, ancient minarets and mosques
      have
      > gone or are going. Hussaini has 11 teams combing the country engaged
      > in rescue work, mostly collecting detritus left by looters. His
      small
      > force of site guards is no match for heavily armed looters, able to
      > shift objects to eager European and American dealers in days.
      >
      > Most ominous is a message reputedly put out from Moqtada al-Sadr's
      > office, that while Muslim heritage should be respected, pre-Muslim
      > relics were up for grabs. As George said before his flight, his
      > successors might be "only interested in Islamic sites and not Iraq's
      > earlier heritage". While Hussaini is clearly devoted to all Iraq's
      > history, the Taliban's destruction of Afghanistan's pre-Muslim
      Bamiyan
      > Buddhas is in every mind.
      >
      > Despite Sadr's apparent preference, sectarian militias are pursuing
      an
      > orgy of destruction of Muslim sites. Apart from the high-profile
      > bombings of some of the loveliest surviving mosques in the Arab
      world,
      > radical groups opposed to all shrines have begun blasting 10th- and
      > 11th-century structures, irrespective of Sunni or Shia origin.
      > Eighteen ancient shrines have been lost, 10 in Kirkuk and the south
      in
      > the past month alone. The great monument and souk at Kifel, north of
      > Najaf - reputedly the tomb of Ezekiel and once guarded by Iraqi Jews
      > (mostly driven into exile by the occupation) - have been all but
      > destroyed.
      >
      > It is abundantly clear that the Americans and British are not
      > protecting Iraq's historic sites. All foreign archaeologists have
      had
      > to leave. Troops are doing nothing to prevent the "farming" of known
      > antiquities. This is in direct contravention of the Geneva
      Convention
      > that an occupying army should "use all means within its power" to
      > guard the cultural heritage of a defeated state.
      >
      > Shortly after the invasion, the British minister Tessa Jowell won
      > plaudits for "pledging" £5m to protect Iraq's antiquities. I can
      find
      > no one who can tell me where, how or whether this money has been
      > spent. It appears to have been pure spin. Only the British Museum
      and
      > the British School of Archaeology in Iraq have kept the flag flying.
      > The latter's grant has just been cut, presumably to pay for the
      > Olympics binge.
      >
      > As long as Britain and America remain in denial over the anarchy
      they
      > have created in Iraq, they clearly feel they must deny its
      devastating
      > side-effects. Two million refugees now camping in Jordan and Syria
      are
      > ignored, since life in Iraq is supposed to be "better than before".
      > Likewise dozens of Iraqis working for the British and thus facing
      > death threats are denied asylum. To grant it would mean the former
      > defence and now home secretary, the bullish John Reid, admitting he
      > was wrong. They will die before he does that.
      >
      > Though I opposed the invasion I assumed that its outcome would at
      > least be a more civilised environment. Yet Iraq's people are being
      > murdered in droves for want of order. Authority has collapsed. That
      > western civilisation should have been born in so benighted a country
      > as Iraq may seem bad luck. But only now is that birth being refused
      > all guardianship, in defiance of international law. If this is Tony
      > Blair's "values war", then language has lost all meaning. British
      > collusion in such destruction is a scandal that will outlive any
      > passing conflict. And we had the cheek to call the Taliban vandals.
      >
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