The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Thirty-One: First 1/2 of July 2004





This is the thirty-first archive of the reviewed articles of The Iraq War & Archaeology web site.


Francis Deblauwe, Ph.D.




The articles and other information are listed chronologically, most recent first.
Almost all are accessible for free (or after a free registration) on the internet.  Each time, I try to draw attention to the most relevant tidbits of information, esp. things that were not mentioned before; occasionally, I provide some comment.  The usual warning applies: many links become defective with time.  Inclusion in the list does not in any way mean that I necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in an article.  But for a few exceptions, the occasional photos and figures accompanying reviewed articles are just hotlinked images on other web sites, in other words: do not download them or request permission to publish them from me, for I do not own the copyright to them in any way!  Please do contact the rightful owners if you would like to use them for publication purposes. Finally, for the sake of convenience, all articles and so on are assumed to have been published on US web sites unless indicated otherwise.

  • U. Willmann, "Plünderer im Zweistromland. Im Irak findet eine der größten Zerstörungen der Kulturgeschichte statt. Ungehindert von den Behörden, pflügen sich Räuber durch historische Stätten und vernichten das Erbe der Menschheit," in Die Zeit, July 15, 2004: on June 9, four antiquities smugglers were arrested by the Iraqi police in Baghdad, with almost 3,000 nicely-wrapped ancient artifacts packed in trunks: filigree animal figurines, cuneiform tablets, grotesque fable creatures, drinking vessels, glass paste vases and terracotta [plaques] with pornographic scenes; they were stolen from archaeological sites in the south of Iraq where the plundering by thousands of looters continues unabated; documentarian Micah Garen says that Saddam Hussein in the past tolerated some small-scale looting to buy the loyalty of tribes in remote regions; Dr. Margarete van Ess (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut) estimated that 130 sites are being devastated, Dr. Walter Sommerfeld (Universität Marburg) spoke of 1,000s; "Tell Laham, Umm al-Aqarib, Umm al-Hafriyat [and] Zabalam" are mentioned in this regard; Dr. Russell recalled sadly how looters would greet him when he landed by helicopter on his earlier inspection tour; he tried to inspect 22 more sites just before he left but a sandstorm canceled the plan; the archaeological sites of "Tell Schmid, Umm al-Hafriyat, Maschkan-Schapir [and] Fara" have now completely been wrecked; Dr. Zainab Bahrani, Russell's successor, hadn't even been out in the field yet, she said she'd be flying to Babylon the next day though; Bahrani said that the Carabinieri who were doing a more than decent job protecting sites in the region around Nasiriyyah, had just been withdrawn so the situation there would be slipping downhill fast; she didn't know why this happened, everything changes all the time, from one day to another, it's chaos; she has no illusions about her influence: "I am all alone here.  I have an internet connection and a telephone.  Nothing more.  No administrative nor scientific assistant.";  she isn't bitter, she'll only stay for the summer, wants to be back to teach at Columbia University at the end of August; the military camp in Babylon that was causing damage to the archaeological remains will be closed in 3 to 6 months; Russell: 3 small parking lots had already been bulldozed on the Babylon site under Saddam but the Coalition military had greatly expanded and added to this: heli pads, new buildings, heavy trucks, trailers; van Ess: Uruk is safe in the hands of guard Muhhar and his beduin tribe, also because the Dutch and Japanese Coalition troops in the area have a good relationship with the local population [there has been at least one hopefully isolated looting incident already though: Ministry of Defence February 15, 2004]


Photo: " Ein philippinischer Militärpolizist hält vor dem Nachbau des Ischtar-Tors im alten Babylon Wache - Foto: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images" [a Philippine MP guarding the replica of the Ishtar Gate in ancient Babylon][ironic: the small Philippine military contingent has just left Iraq]
  • "Archäologen: Im Irak wird Menschheitserbe verwüstet," in Lübecker Nachrichten (Germany), July 14, 2004: Dr. Margarete van Ess (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut) told Die Zeit that about 130 Mesopotamian archaeological sites are being ransacked and looted; Dr. Walter Sommerfeld (Universität Marburg) said that the profits of the looted-antiquities trade have not just become the mainstay of local tribes but also serve to buy more weapons for the looters

Photo: "Ein Wächter in einem assyrischen Palast im nördlichen Irak auf Posten." [a guard on his post in an Assyrian palace in northern Iraq]

  • A. Aydin, "Turkey Gives $100,000 to Restore Ottoman Artifacts in Iraq," in Zaman (Turkey), July 8, 2004: " Turkey has offered the ... UNESCO ... 100,000 dollars to restore historical artifacts from the Ottoman period that were damaged during the last two wars in Iraq." "... [at] the committee meeting in Paris on May 24, [it] offered to train art historians in Iraq and send restoration experts to Iraq. If the committee accepts the offers, experts from Iraq will be trained at the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) School of Architecture, the Istanbul Restoration and Conservation Laboratory, and the Anatolian Civilizations' Museum." "Turkish restoration experts will go to Iraq ..."

Photo: [no caption]

  • L. Ling, "Ancient Assyrian Treasures Found Intact in Baghdad," in National Geographic Ultimate Explorer (MSNBC), with online video clip, [broadcast July 6, 2003]: on the Archaeology Channel web site: "... follows Lisa Ling and a National Geographic film crew through the immediate post-war Iraq as they investigate looting of the Iraq Museum. The team navigates the dangerous road into Baghdad and meets with Museum officials and the US team of expert investigators charged with recovering the stolen and lost artifacts, gaining exclusive access to the inner area of the museum and to the internal workings of the inquiry itself. Remarkably, the team also plays a key role in the recovery of the Treasure of Nimrud from the basement vault of Iraq's National Bank." [see also "Ancient Assyrian Treasures Found Intact in Baghdad," in National Geographic, June 6, 2003]

Photo 1: [no caption; film crew]

Photo 2: [no caption; National Museum director Dr. Nawala el-Mutawalli with famous gold crown from Nimrud]




Photo 1: "Det amerikanske militære nærværet har ikke bidratt til å sikre Babylons siste skatter, mener eksperter. Foto: Scanpix" [something about US soldiers at the site of Babylon]

Photo 2: "Amerikanske soldater på vei inn i Babylon. Foto: Scanpix" [ditto]



  • M. Garen, "War Within the War. In southern Iraq specialized troops pursue armed looters," in Archaeology, online abstract, 57, 4 (July-August 2004): "At Umma, modern Tell Jokha, a new but empty guard tower stands sentinel near a devastated landscape. Today there are no looters at work, but last year, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion, thieves ravaged Umma by digging hundreds of trenches in their search for salable artifacts. A coalition raid led by U.S. Marines in May 2003 resulted in the arrest of a hundred of them and seems to have put an end to large-scale illegal excavations. Looting continues, however, on a smaller but still destructive scale. A single guard with a rifle for his own protection wanders the site. He complains that the patrol needs to come at night--that's when the looters come. He points to a new trench ten feet deep, only two days old." "Satellite photographs of the region from 2000 show there was already extensive damage from looters, but Abdul-Amir Hamdani, director of antiquities in Dhi Qar Province, where Umma is located, says there was as much looting in the south in the first three months after the invasion as there was in the previous ten years."

Photo: "The long shadow of a member of the Carabinieri, the Italian national police force, falls on sherds at much-looted Umma. (Micah Garen)"


This site is edited by Belgian archaeologist Francis Deblauwe, Ph.D., living in Streamwood, Illinois (USA), who is affiliated with Archaeos, Inc., and a research associate of the University of Vienna (Austria).