Thursday, February 12, 2009

Destruction and theft of ancient antiquities in Iraq

The theft and destruction of ancient antiquities during the Iraq war is regrettable and saddening, although when a country is in chaos and war, protecting art is probably not their first priority.

Directly following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, looters plundered museums, libraries, and archaeological sites, while the U.S. military stationed a base on the ancient site of Babylon.(Global Policy Forum) Many blame Iraq’s government and people for not caring about these artifacts, looting, and arsenic activities, yet how can they even try to save their antiquities as the United States is building bases on ancient sites and digging huge trenches through them. Permanent damage was done to many artifacts buried shortly below the ground surface due to the heavy machinery rolling over it. These lost artifacts are part of the human history, displaying how art and people have evolved over centuries. The fact that many of these are lost forever is terrible because they cannot ever be studied again, except for in the remaining photos of the objects. Many objects from our book are also lost such as the female head from Uruk and the statuettes of two worshipers.

I do not think the U.S. should create a safe haven for these artifacts, nor should the U.S. government contribute money to saving them, but our military should be responsible and build bases in places that are not ancient archaeological sites. A separate commission from the government should be established by several mid-eastern countries to protect these antiquities. Several countries together could establish a system of museums with the capital to guard these museums and archaeological sites. Educating people around the world is also needed to deter looting and destruction. To an extent we can try to save these antiquities, yet in a region at war, bombs and firepower are frequent and at times misaimed, destroying precious history.

Global Policy Forum. "Babylon’s History Swept Away in U.S. Army Sandbags." Global Policy Forum. 8 Dec. 2008. 10 Feb. 2009

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