The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Thirty-Four: Second 1/2 of August 2004





This is the thirty-fourth 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.

  • M. Liu and Ch. Dickey, "Unearthing the Bible. Sacred relics lie scattered beneath the deserts of the Middle East. In Iraq, our religious history is being obliterated; in Israel, it's a question of faith," in Newsweek, August 30, 2004: "Beneath the sands and silt of Iraq, for millennium after millennium, truths have waited to be pieced together about these legendary places that loom so large in the faith and culture of Jews, Christians and Muslims." "Archeologists are like crime-scene investigators trying to discover how whole societies lived and died. And to do that they need to know when, how—and especially where—each clue is found. 'You take an object out of context, you are losing about 80 percent of the information it can give you,' says [McGuire] Gibson." "The thieves no longer wait for the cover, or even the cool, of the night. One day last week a portly 35-year-old who said his name was Hassan clawed the earth with a pickax and shovel in 120-degree heat. When asked why, his answer was simple. 'We are poor people,' he said." [see also Newsweek August 25 and Alpern and Kozel August 22]

    Photo: "Luke Baker / Reuters - Lost treasures: An Italian soldier peers into a hole scavenged by thieves" [at Dubrum, an ancient Sumerian settlement near the Iraqi village of Dhahir]
  • M.J. Gray, "Freed Journalist Micah Garen Back in U.S.," in Yahoo! News, online, August 28, 2004: "Asked what he would do now, Garen answered: 'Sushi.'" "'I really want to thank everyone who helped secure my release and to bring me back home,' Garen said Saturday outside his apartment building in Manhattan's West Village. 'Your continued support and thoughts were a great source of strength for my family.'" "'The outpouring of support for Micah and Amir and our families is what sustained us through these very difficult days,' [his fiancée] said. 'Everyone's hard work and prayers helped bring Micah home, and we look forward to spending time with our family.'"

Photo: "Sat Aug 28, 4:34 PM ET - Journalist Micah Garen and his fiance Marie-Helene Carleton speak at a press conference in New York Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004. Micah Garen, the American journalist freed by Shiite militants in Iraq ... after nine days in captivity, said Saturday that it feels 'really good to be back home' and thanked his supporters in his first public comments since returning to the United States. (AP Photo/Joe Kohen)"

  • J.F. Burns, "Freed U.S. Journalist Found Solace in Philosophy During 'Moments of Terror,'" in The New York Times, August 25, 2004: "When he emerged briefly in Baghdad on Tuesday, still under the protection of the F.B.I., Mr. Garen, ... told how he had resolved at the most threatening moments of his kidnapping ... not to allow what he called the 'moments of terror' to shake him out of a cool, rational appraisal of his situation. To that end, he said, he spent his days held captive in a date palm grove, with his hands tied behind his back and his eyes often blindfolded, discussing Hegel and other scholarly topics with his fellow captive, Amir Doushi, an Iraqi English teacher working as his interpreter ..." "... my main thought was to keep my mind clear so that we could figure out what the people holding us were going to do, so that we could try and control the situation." "... Garen, ... was flown to Baghdad on Tuesday aboard an American military helicopter after two days in secure locations outside the capital, where he underwent medical checks and an F.B.I. debriefing. A news conference in the capital to thank those who secured his release lasted barely a minute, with no questions allowed. That was partly to meet the F.B.I.'s concern that nothing be said to compromise the outcome of future kidnappings, and partly because of Mr. Garen's reluctance, as he expressed it, to become a celebrity for an experience he described, in an interview, as 'just an unfortunate accident.' In offering to meet after the news conference with a reporter from The New York Times, Mr. Garen acted, in some measure, on the basis of a relationship established before his kidnapping, when he had prepared to submit an article to the newspaper ..." "... the trouble started when he began taking photographs of a gun-seller's stall that he had intended to use in his film to demonstrate the ready availability of the illegal weapons used by looters to protect their digging. The gun-seller became angry, and a crowd gathered. Then somebody identified Mr. Garen as a foreigner, 'and people started shouting,' he said. The two men were taken at gunpoint to a building in Nasiriya where it was evident, ... that they were in the hands of the armed resistance that has sprung up across the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq in recent months. There, some of their captors turned menacing, with one man striking Mr. Doushi a powerful blow that broke his jaw." "Blindfolded, and with their hands tied behind their backs, the pair was then bundled into a van and driven for two hours out of Nasiriya to a place 'somewhere in the swamps,' ... Mr. Garen and Mr. Doushi were kept from sunup to sundown in a cramped open-air enclosure formed by miniature date palms, then taken out into an adjacent field to sleep. Three times a day they were fed meals of rice and beans, along with ... brackish drafts of water. On the fifth day, Aug. 18, the American was led away by his captors to a rough building nearby. He was greeted by more armed men in a room hung with an Islamic banner of the kind favored by the Mahdi Army and affiliated Islamic groups. 'The first thought that occurred to me was that they might shoot me, ... But when I asked one of the guards, 'What's going on?' his response was, 'Just picture.' And then I realized they were going to make a video.' ... Unable to comprehend the Arabic used in the message his captors read to the camera, Mr. Garen was unaware until later that they had threatened to kill him unless American troops were withdrawn from Najaf within 48 hours. When he learned that from a conversation with one of his guards, he said, he and Mr. Doushi resolved to try to escape before the deadline ran out, on Aug. 20. He said they calculated that they had 'about a 25 percent chance' of freeing their hands and getting past their guards if they made their break in the pre-dawn hours when many of the guards were asleep. The night before the planned escape, ... the guards had told them there were discussions under way about releasing them, prompting an abandonment of any bid to break free. The American was led back into the building to make a second video, ... This time, the men wanted him to read a statement denouncing the 'massacre' being conducted by [US] troops in Najaf. But Mr. Garen undercut the video with an improvised introduction of his own. 'I knew they didn't understand much English, so I began by saying that I had been asked to read the statement,' ..." "One uncertainty that remains is the degree of Mahdi Army involvement in the kidnapping from the outset. Mr. Sadr, the rebel leader, has denounced hostage-taking as un-Islamic, and aides in Nasiriya said he had sent messages ordering that Mr. Garen and Mr. Doushi be released. American intelligence officials have said the Mahdi Army is a loose confederacy, with some of its regional leaders taking orders from Mr. Sadr, others not. Another theory is that the rebel group has played a 'bad cop, good cop' role, seizing hostages as a means of getting its political message out, then releasing them in expectation of earning goodwill. Mr. Garen said he expected to leave Iraq on Wednesday to head home to New York, take a vacation, and complete work on his documentary. Eventually, he said, he plans to return here and resume work. 'My interest in Iraq and its antiquities is not going to end with my film,' he said. 'My big concern is that those sites are still being plundered, and I'd like to do whatever I can to help bring that to an end.'"


Photo: "Jamie Scott-Long for The New York Times - Micah Garen, the American journalist released from captivity on Sunday, described his experience as 'just an unfortunate accident.'"
  • "Freed Journalist Addresses Media in Baghdad," in Yahoo! News, online with online video, August 24, 2004: Micah Garen made a brief statement to the media in Baghdad; video also shows some footage taken between his release and his press conference: looks like it was still in Nasiriyyah

Photo: [no caption]

  • "Mon Aug 23, 3:01 AM ET - U.S. journalist Micah Garen, left, and his Iraqi translator Amir Doushi, who were kidnapped in Iraq ... more than a week ago, are seen after they were released Sunday in the southern city of Nasiriyah, Iraq in this image taken from television Monday, Aug. 23, 2004. Garen thanked al-Sadr's representatives in Nasiriyah and everyone else who worked to secure his release. Garen and his translator were walking through a market in Nasiriyah on Aug. 13 when two armed men in civilian clothes seized them. (AP Photo/APTN)" [Yahoo! News Photos]

  • T. Pitman, "Freed U.S. Reporter Hopes to Stay in Iraq," in Yahoo! News, online, August 23, 2004: "Micah Garen, freed after nine days of being held by kidnappers, said he hoped to stay in Iraq ... to continue working on a documentary project about the looting of archaeological sites. 'This experience hasn't made me want to leave at all,' Garen said in an interview with Associated Press Television News in the southern city of Nasiriyah late Sunday, hours after he was freed." "[el-Sadr aide] Al-Khafaji told The Associated Press on Monday that his office got involved only after Garen's sister, Eva Garen, appeared on Arab satellite channels asking it to help. 'We got her message through satellite channels,' he said. 'When he (al-Sadr) was asked to intervene we did.' However, Eva Garen's message on the Al-Jazeera television station was a direct appeal to the kidnappers to release her brother, not to al-Sadr to mediate the crisis. And al-Khafaji told AP on Thursday afternoon — hours before Eva Garen's message was broadcast late that night — that his office had been trying for nearly a week to win the journalist's freedom." "'I feel like I have lots and lots of friends here and I hope that I can continue to work here,' Garen said. Police on Monday were keeping reporters away from Garen's family home in New Haven., Conn.. A woman who answered the telephone there Monday afternoon said that the family didn't plan to make any statements until Garen returned from Iraq." "Al-Sadr officials delivered Garen to an Italian military base in Nasiriyah late Sunday. He was subsequently handed over to U.S. authorities, an Italian official said on condition of anonymity." [this was already announced in the Italian media: la Provincia Pavese August 22]

Photo: "Mon Aug 23, 2:59 AM ET - U.S. journalist Micah Garen, who was kidnapped in Iraq ... more than a week ago, is seen after he was released Sunday in the southern city of Nasiriyah, Iraq in this image taken from television Monday, Aug. 23, 2004. Garen thanked al-Sadr's representatives in Nasiriyah and everyone else who worked to secure his release. Garen and his Iraqi translator, Amir Doushi, were walking through a market in Nasiriyah on Aug. 13 when two armed men in civilian clothes seized them. (AP Photo/APTN)"

  • "US journalist Micah Garen released," in Aljazeera.net (Qatar), August 22, 2004: "In an exclusive telephone interview with Aljazeera from Najaf minutes after his release, Garen, 36, said he was taking pictures with a 'small camera' in the souq – market – district of the city when he was overwhelmed by a large crowd. 'Nasiriya residents may have misunderstood my intentions and were offended,' he said from a Muqtada al-Sadr office as he waited transfer to a 'human rights organisation'."

Photo: "Garen worked for documentary-makers Four Corners Media"

  • L. Mack, "Iraqi artifacts were her call to duty," in Star Tribune (Minnesota), August 22, 2004: "On May 16, 2003, Corine Wegener, an assistant curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, stepped out of the Army transport plane and into the uncertainty of war-torn Iraq. ... Wegener, a 20-year member of the Army Reserves, had been deployed to work for the Iraq Ministry of Culture. 'It was not your ordinary museum work, and it was not your ordinary Army work,' said Wegener, 40, who returned to her post at the MIA in April." "She was the only person in Army Civil Affairs with art-museum experience." "'It was terrible, but it could have been a lot worse,' said Wegener, who noted that every item unearthed in Iraq goes through the National Museum for evaluation. Original reports estimated 170,000 objects had been stolen, but Wegener said the best guess is 14,000 to 15,000. Many important collections had been squirreled away for safekeeping." "Then in the afternoon the M.P. called back to say they'd found the Bissetki [sic] Statue.' The 300-pound copper statue was another early naturalistic work, showing the lower half of a man holding a stake. But, the M.P. reported, 'He's missing all his toes,['] 'That's OK,' said Russell. 'He always has been.'"

"Most days, however, were fraught with the frustrations of trying to get around in a war-torn city, trying to work with few resources and no conservators. To go anywhere required a two-vehicle armed convoy with at least three people to patrol 360 degrees. To get things done required infinite patience. 'I'd call a plumber, and he'd send his brother who knew nothing about plumbing,' Wegener said. Without professional help, conserving broken statues or deteriorating ivories and manuscripts was almost impossible. 'I'd say, 'Don't move that pile of sculpture fragments,' but the next day it would be gone,' she said. 'I kept having to tell myself; it's not your museum.' But she did help put the museum back on its feet. It was a wreck before the war, she said, with leaking plumbing and an air-conditioning system that had broken 12 years ago. Under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the museum had received no money. ... She helped get a new air-conditioning system installed. She helped get the building back on the electrical grid. And she also helped coordinate the repair of the Ministry of Culture building, which was more seriously damaged than the museum complex. Although she was glad to leave Iraq after 10 months, Wegener was also frustrated not to have accomplished more. Now, on her own time, she's working on what she calls a 'quick-and-dirty guide for soldiers on preserving cultural artifacts in times of conflict.' Often, what seems to be common sense, like picking something up or washing it off, is precisely the wrong thing to do, she said. And now retired from the Army Reserve, she hopes to see the Iraq National Museum reopen one day. 'That's how they'll come into their own as a modern museum and be able to share their incredible holdings with the world. But I don't see it happening soon.'"


Photo: "Corine Wegener, an assistant curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and an Army reservist, arrived in Iraq in May 2003. Her assignment: help the Iraq Ministry of Culture get back on its feet. Here she checked a roadside stand for looted objects. - Corine Wegener - Published August 23, 2004 - © Copyright 2004 Star Tribune. All rights reserved."
  • P.H.B. Shin, "Radicals promise journo's release," in Newsday (New York), August 21, 2004: "A source with close ties to al-Sadr told the Daily News that 'Sadr himself is keen to find Micah and secure his release.' Several influential Iraqis have stuck out their necks for Garen's release 'out of goodwill, not for glory,' the source said." "In the lobby of the couple's West Village building, neighbors put up an impromptu dedication that included a photo of Garen and a poem with the hopeful verse 'God shall not forget us' and saying God 'waits where love is.'"

Photo: "Micah Garen" [2nd Al Jazeera video]

  • "Iraq Group Says It Will Free U.S. Journalist -Web Site," in Yahoo! News, online, August 20, 2004: "'As for the American journalist we have, we will release him tomorrow, Saturday, in the afternoon, because he disagrees very much with the American administration,' said the statement, signed by the Secret Action Group of the Mehdi Army." [why the change of name from "Martyrs Brigades"?]; "The statement appeared on an Islamist Web site often used by militant groups in Iraq. The group did not name its captive but appeared to be referring to U.S. journalist Micah Garen, ...  It did not say where the hostage would be released."

Photo: "Reuters Photo" [Micah Garen]

  • "Captive Journalist With Mass. Ties Says He's 'Treated Well.' Garen's Location Unknown," in WCVB-TV (Boston), with online video, August 20, 2004: "... [Mark] Gordeon-James, [a colleague of Garen's]. 'We are just doing all we can to smooth his release.' Gordeon-James said every member of the media understands how dangerous working in Iraq is. '(Garen) certainly he knew the risks, was prepared, he had his flack jacket. But at the end of the day, if you are passionate about covering events in Iraq -- his passion is archeology and the looting of archeological sites in Mesopotamia, sites in central Iraq -- you have to take those risks and it is a balance,' said Gordeon-James. The media is welcomed by radical Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr. 'Al-Sadr realizes the importance of having the international media cover events on the ground down there, it is certainly in his interest to have the media there,' said Gordeon-James. Representatives of al-Sadr say they do not know exactly where Garen is, but they would work to secure his freedom either Friday or Saturday."

Photo: "Video. Ed Harding Reports On Journalist"

  • P.H.B. Shin, "'We'll kill Yank.' Radicals' video gives ultimatum for saving W. Village newsman," in Daily News (New York), August 19, 2004: "Garen's brave fiancée, Marie-Helene Carleton, had been busy 'trying to open the lines of communication through Baghdad' to Iraqis who might be able to help secure Garen's freedom, said family friend Sheryl Mendez. 'They were trying to find out whose <warlord> area that is - which faction is in control,' Mendez, [a photo editor at U.S. News & World Report who has worked with Garen,] said." "Carleton's stunned sister, who was at the apartment, told Mendez, 'It's hard to put words together.' Four men who identified themselves as FBI agents entered the apartment about 6 p.m." "His family had hoped that the goodwill he sowed among his colleagues and his Iraqi subjects across many years would become his lifeline to freedom. A tight-knit band of photojournalists in Iraq had been mining their contacts in the chaotic region to find Garen, friends and colleagues of his said. The colleagues reached out to so-called 'fixers' - Iraqi middlemen with a wide network of informal contacts who have been used to negotiate in many of the kidnappings that have become common in Iraq - said Eric Bageot, a deputy bureau chief at the Sipa Press photo agency that Garen has worked for in the past. ... Rita Leistner, a Sipa freelancer currently in Iraq, was the last Western colleague who saw Garen before his Friday abduction and has been searching for him, Bageot said. 'There's a strong bond within the photographer community, especially when they're out in the field,' said Bageot, who described Garen as 'someone you can absolutely rely on.' 'Micah is a very nice person,' he said. 'He's very organized and very thoughtful in his work. He would not take any stupid risks. He's well-prepared on the terrain and he studies his mission before doing anything.' Most of the militants responsible for kidnapping foreigners in Iraq in recent months have been Sunni Muslims, not those linked to al-Sadr or other Shiite groups."

Photo: "Popular journalist Micah Garen is shown being held in frightening new video, sending fiancée, Marie-Helene Carleton and his family into seclusion in Greenwich Village flat."


Photo: [no caption; screen shot from video shown on Al Jazeera]

  • P. del Re, "Rapito un giornalista americano. 'Aveva accusato gli italiani'. Nassiriya, Micah Garen, specializzato in archeologia, sosteneva di avere le foto di un'ambulanza colpita dall'Esercito," in la Repubblica (Italy), August 17, 2004: he defied fate for 6 months while driving around Iraq in an old Toyota without an escort, only accompanied by his trusted translator, and dressed in an old washed-out shirt and sporting a mustache like a local; del Re says that during the Mahdi Army/Carabinieri truce on August 8, Garen went to the Charlie bridge in Nasiriyyah where a burnt-out wreck of an ambulance was still left from the previous day when it was sprayed with Carabinieri machine gun fire after not having stopped for a road block; it was thought it contained a bomb because it exploded so violently when hit, but this had not been confirmed; Garen sold his video tape to the RAI people who broadcast it the same night; Garen told del Re that he needed the money to pay for his flight home to the US; when everyone recognized Garen's translator as the supposed ambulance driver in the video, the Carabinieri were furious; General Corrado Dalzini, commander of the Antica Babilonia operation, called him to account, threatened to throw him of the base but after a few hours pardoned him and let him stay [this is a very serious accusation which doesn't seem to make sense when I compare it with Garen's track record; I am sceptical]

Photo: "Micah Garen"

  • "Mon Aug 16, [2004,] 6:27 PM ET - A French journalist holding an American passport has been kidnapped in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, Al Jazeera television reported August 16, 2004. Italian news agency ANSA named the man as Micah Garen, seen in this 2004 handout photo from his family. Garen is 37 and a specialist in archeology who worked with The New York Times, according to RAI TV news. U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the State Department was trying to verify media reports that a journalist with U.S. citizenship had been kidnapped in Iraq ... Editorial use only - Reuters/Family photo/Handout" [Yahoo! News Photos]

  • "Journalist, Translator Kidnapped in Iraq," in Yahoo! News, online, August 16, 2004: "A Western journalist and his Iraqi translator were kidnapped by two armed men in a busy market in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, police said Monday. ...  According to witnesses in the market, the journalist, identified as Micah Garen, and the translator, Amir Doushi, were walking when two men in civilian clothes and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles seized them, ...  Adnan al-Shoraify, deputy governor of Dhi Qar province, said the incident occurred Friday. Al-Shoraify said Garen was a journalist with U.S.-French citizenship who worked for the U.S.-based Four Corners Media and was working on a project involving antiquities near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad." "A spokesman for Italian forces deployed in Nasiriyah, Capt. Ettore Sarli, said Garen had been staying at the Italian airbase there, but left Aug. 12 and told the troops he was headed to Baghdad. Garen turned in his press card before leaving, he said. Sarli said Garen had been interested in archaeology, was working in a local archaeological museum and also with the coalition force's archaeological unit[.]" [Micah Garen is one of the few journalists in Iraq who really has been following up on the plight of archaeology; I am very saddened to hear about his kidnapping and am hoping for the best]
Photo a: "Mon Aug 16, 1:31 PM ET - Western journalist Micah Garen is seen at an undisclosed location in an undated photo provided to the Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq ..., Monday Aug. 16, 2004. Garen and his Iraqi translator were kidnapped by armed men in a busy market in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, according to the police. (AP Photo)"

I guess this as good a time as any to draw attention to the Four Corners Media web site, esp. the pages "On June 9, 2004, Iraqi police arrested four men in Baghdad, part of a larger smuggling ring, and recovered 3000 objects that had been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq. The objects had been wrapped up and boxed for shipment outside of the country. This is the first major arrest and recovery of objects looted from archaeological sites by Iraqi police since the 2003 war." [see also Komarow June 13, 2004] and "Archaeological sites in Southern Iraq" with many pictures and even one video

Some examples from the "On June 9, 2004, ..." page: "Photographs by Micah Garen and Marie-Helene Carleton, © Four Corners Media"

Photo 1: [no caption; cuneiform tablet with envelope]

Photo 2: [no caption; animal figurine]

Photo 3: [no caption; figurine]

Photo 4: [no caption; bulla with sealing]

Photo 5: [no caption; Hatrean sculpture of horse and rider]

Some examples from the "Archaeological sites ..." page:

Photo 6 (below): "Looters running from helicopter at Isin, January 2004. © John Russell"

Photo 7 (below): " Looted site of Umma Al Akrab, Fall 2003. © Carabiniere T.P.C. Italia"

Photo 8 (below): " Nippur, June 2003. © Micah Garen"

Photo 9: " Looted site of Isin, June 2003. © Micah Garen"

Photo 10: " Patrol to protect archaeological sites in Southern Iraq, June 2003. © Micah Garen"


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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).