Re: Archaeology and the Iraq war
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
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.
M. Susan English
Stan --- In
> Posting this runs the risk of introducing politics into this
> but perhaps it will also stimulate some posts, without which thevandals
> 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
> British and American collusion in the pillaging of Iraq's heritage
> a scandal that will outlive any passing conflictfrom
> 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
> the mounds of fuel dumps, stores and hangars. Ur is safe within theand
> base compound. But its walls are pockmarked with wartime shrapnel
> a blockhouse is being built over an adjacent archaeological site.When
> the head of Iraq's supposedly sovereign board of antiquities andto
> 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
> protect his work in a state of anarchy. It was a heart breakingif
> presentation. Under Saddam you were likely to be tortured and shot
> you let someone steal an antiquity; in today's Iraq you are likelyto
> be tortured and shot if you don't. The tragic fate of the nationalthat
> museum in Baghdad in April 2003 was as if federal troops had invaded
> New York city, sacked the police and told the criminal community
> the Metropolitan was at their disposal. The local tank commander wasafter
> told specifically not to protect the museum for a full two weeks
> the invasion. Even the Nazis protected the Louvre.was
> 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
> about to reopen, albeit with half his most important objects stolen.nothing
> The pro-war lobby had stopped pretending that the looting was
> to do with the Americans, who were shamefacedly helping retrieve(author
> stolen objects under the dynamic US colonel, Michael Bogdanos
> of a book on the subject). The vigorous Italian cultural envoy tothe
> coalition, Mario Bondioli-Osio, was giving generously forrestoration.
> 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
> Nothing could be done about the fire-gutted national library and thegot
> loss of five centuries of Ottoman records (and works by Piccasso and
> Miro). But the message of winning hearts and minds seemed to have
> Today the picture is transformed. Donny George fled for his life
> August after death threats. The national museum is not open butshut.
> Nor is it just shut. Its doors are bricked up, it is surrounded bycannot
> concrete walls and its exhibits are sandbagged. Even the staff
> get inside. There is no prospect of reopening.city
> Hussaini confirmed a report two years ago by John Curtis, of the
> British Museum, on America's conversion of Nebuchadnezzar's great
> of Babylon into the hanging gardens of Halliburton. This meant aand
> 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
> car parks. Babylon is being rendered archaeologically barren.the
> 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
> walls. The place is now a ruin.George
> 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
> tried to remove vulnerable carvings from the ancient city of Umma toby a
> 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
> desert of badger holes created by an army of some 300 looters.have
> Castles, ziggurats, deserted cities, ancient minarets and mosques
> gone or are going. Hussaini has 11 teams combing the country engagedsmall
> in rescue work, mostly collecting detritus left by looters. His
> force of site guards is no match for heavily armed looters, able toBamiyan
> 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
> Buddhas is in every mind.an
> Despite Sadr's apparent preference, sectarian militias are pursuing
> orgy of destruction of Muslim sites. Apart from the high-profileworld,
> bombings of some of the loveliest surviving mosques in the Arab
> radical groups opposed to all shrines have begun blasting 10th- andin
> 11th-century structures, irrespective of Sunni or Shia origin.
> Eighteen ancient shrines have been lost, 10 in Kirkuk and the south
> the past month alone. The great monument and souk at Kifel, north ofhad
> Najaf - reputedly the tomb of Ezekiel and once guarded by Iraqi Jews
> (mostly driven into exile by the occupation) - have been all but
> It is abundantly clear that the Americans and British are not
> protecting Iraq's historic sites. All foreign archaeologists have
> to leave. Troops are doing nothing to prevent the "farming" of knownConvention
> antiquities. This is in direct contravention of the Geneva
> that an occupying army should "use all means within its power" tofind
> 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
> no one who can tell me where, how or whether this money has beenand
> spent. It appears to have been pure spin. Only the British Museum
> the British School of Archaeology in Iraq have kept the flag flying.they
> 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
> have created in Iraq, they clearly feel they must deny itsdevastating
> side-effects. Two million refugees now camping in Jordan and Syriaare
> 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.