The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Five: First 1/2 of June 2003





This is the fifth 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. Bailey, "Warka Vase Returned to Baghdad museum - While Nimrud Gold Is Unpacked in Bank Vault. The Greatest Loss from the National Museum in Baghdad, Has Been Recovered," in The Art Newspaper (UK), [June 13, 2003]: "Three men unexpectedly turned up at the museum on 12 June, with the sacred vessel of 3200 BC on the back seat of their car. Although the press have not commented on its condition, our information is that ancient breaks in the fragile limestone were broken again." [there's some confusion here: other press reports mention 2 men and that it was returned in the trunk of a car; on the vase's condition: one colleague has seen a picture after it was returned and the top register seemed to be missing while still another colleague was told that some of the ancient breaks in the vase have opened up again]; "... the crates of the Nimrud gold, which were stored in the vaults of the central bank. These vaults had been flooded with sewage (not clean water as was reported), but most of the gold is undamaged. So far only a handful of the objects unpacked will require conservation - a bronze mirror, a silver mirror and bowl, and carbonised wood with gold inlays. This same vault also contains other precious objects from Ur and Nimrud (including ivories), but these crates have not yet been examined." "Meanwhile Dan Cruickshank’s BBC television film on the Baghdad museum transmitted on 8 June has proved highly controversial. He concluded that some missing objects may have been taken before the war, that some looting was an 'inside job', that some senior staff had been active members of Ba’athist Party, and that part of the museum building was used as a military post by Saddam Hussein’s forces during the fighting. Most of these accusations were denied by Iraqi museum officials. One of the most damning moments was a filmed scene inside a storeroom, which had been entered by US Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, who forced the steel doors. The storeroom was in a state of complete chaos, with unrecorded objects littering the floor. Museum director Nawala Al-Mutwalli admitted that it had been left in this condition before the war by her staff - and the scene was not the result of looting. However, international experts who know the Baghdad museum believe that the film gave an unfair account of the difficult situation." "... most of the important objects [of the Mosul Museum] had been sent to Baghdad for safekeeping, some leaving only three days before the bombing. It is believed that these 5,500 objects are all safe." "The site museum at Nineveh appears to have been undamaged. The Nasiriyah museum also seems to have been saved. It is currently a bivouac for US Marines, and their camp beds lie between copies of Hatra statues and Assyrian reliefs."

  • M. Wiltenburg, "A Fertile Crescent for Looting. A National Geographic Survey Finds Guards at Some Key Sites, But Others, Especially in the South, Are Being Robbed," in The Christian Science Monitor, June 12, 2003: "Far more significant is the context in which these historical clues are found: the presence of human or animal bones nearby; their proximity to houses, spearheads, irrigation channels, burial sites, ancient family records. 'Objects are mute until you can connect them to people,' Stone says, 'and it's that connection to the people who produced and used them that's being lost here.' What's more, few of the sites now being sacked have been studied by archaeologists to any great degree. ... Dr. Wright estimates there are currently 20,000 little-known sites in Iraq worth registering and studying. Right now, looters have a good chance of reaching them first. A major site will often contain 5,000 or more baked clay tablets, inscribed with everything from commercial records to ancient myths. It was on such a broken Sumerian tablet that the earliest written version of the biblical flood myth was found. 'That's from a tablet - not even a whole one. And they're throwing away hundreds,' she says. Still, Wright hopes for positive repercussions from this news. 'If there's an outpouring of offers of help to repair the damage, that could help bring Iraq into the modern network of scientific archaeology.'"
Fig.: "N. RAPP, R. MORRIS/AP  -  SOURCES: JOHN C. SANDERS & ORIENTAL INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO; ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA; UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA"

  • M. Gottlieb, "Looters Swarm Over Remote Sites, Study Finds," in The New York Times, June 12, 2003: "The archaeologists, who undertook the first extensive postwar survey of Iraq's sites for the National Geographic Society, said that among those appearing untouched by plunderers were the huge temple complex at Ur; Ashur, the early Assyrian capital; and the prehistoric towns of Ur and Tepe Gawra. Other fabled sites, including Babylon, Nineveh and Nimrud, sustained measured amounts of damage; ... But the archaeologists, who put together a detailed 10-page report for the society, also documented extensive, seemingly well-organized pilfering of more than a dozen other sites, mainly in the broad, sometimes marshy areas of the south." "They also spoke of the cooperation of military forces, and of the interest of soldiers who gathered at Ur for impromptu lectures on its significance. 'The situation is very different in different parts of the country,' Dr. Wright said. The sites in the north, where fighting was generally lighter, fared better, he explained."

  • "Ancient Iraqi Sites Show Theft, Destruction," in National Geographic, online, June 11, 2003: "'Far more material than what has been reported missing from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad is being ripped from the ground and leaving the country,' expedition leader Henry Wright said ..." "... organized by National Geographic's Committee for Research and Exploration, ... led by Wright, a CRE member and curator of near eastern archaeology at the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology. Iraqi archaeologists and others joined the U.S.-based team for what was the first survey of the country's antiquities beyond Baghdad since the April war ..." "'Very little archaeological work has been done in key parts of Iraq, so much of its history—the worlds heritage—still lies in the ground. Protecting these places for future research at this very vulnerable time is crucial if we are to have any hope of understanding the fundamental processes that gave rise to the earliest civilizations,' Wright said." "... a team that included McGuire Gibson, Tony Wilkinson and Mark Altaweel, all of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute; Elizabeth Stone of Stony Brook University; and representatives of National Geographic." "... the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud, its gold-filled royal tombs uncovered only in 1988, ..." [actually not the royal tombs as such, rather the tombs of 3 queens]; "The guard was only part time at the nearby site of Nineveh, ... a bas-relief in a palace looked as if it had been attacked by sledge-hammers, and at least two holes had been dug in the floor of the chambers by thieves ..." "At the Assyrian sites of Khorsabad and Tell Billa, numerous pits were visible, resulting from phases of occupation by the Iraqi army; stray, unexploded bombs and ordnance were seen, posing a major hazard for future archaeological work. The Mosul Museum, ... thieves had stolen parts of the bronze reliefs from the Balawat Gates in the Assyrian gallery as well as some Assyrian cuneiform-inscribed bricks. Damage to the museum's galleries and storerooms was considerable. In the south, looters had inflicted major damage at the remote desert site of Dahaileh, ... Several huge holes had been dug ..." "Iraqi guards apparently had fled the ancient site of Larsa, now known as Senkareh, and the team found large holes recently dug in the foundations of ancient buildings, ... a Marine at the site had found a copper or bronze harpoon, probably dating to 1900 B.C. 'We reburied it to preserve it and took GPS readings of its location so there is a record for future archaeologists,' said Wright." [a touching symbolic ritual, I guess]; "Babylon, ... weathered the war fairly well. ... The museum at Babylon, however, had been heavily looted, its library reduced to a pile of ashes. The southern site of Nippur, ... remained intact and protected by Iraqi tribal guards. ... On a separate trip by helicopter, Gibson found the nearby site of Umm al Hafriyat heavily perforated by looters' pits. [great! I can take Nippur of the Sites Looted list; Healey June 7 probably mistook Umm el-Hafriyyat for Nippur] The significant sites of Umma (modern Jokka) and Umm al Aqarib apparently had been dug into by large gangs of looters, estimated to be some 200 strong at Umma alone. The archaeologists also visited the Tigris River town of Ctesiphon, ... the main brick arch of the palace intact, Wright reports, but a museum had been completely looted." "Ashur: ... No significant damage or looting seen, but Iraqi guards had no weapons ..." "Nimrud: ... Much of the gold had been removed before the war for safekeeping." "Telloh: Known as Girsu in ancient times, in 2400 B.C. ... Iraqi tribal guards and Coalition military in evidence, and no significant problem discovered. Ur: ... Well guarded and intact. [another site I can scrap from the Sites Looted list] Note: Other sites were viewed by helicopter in May by archaeologist McGuire Gibson: They included Tell Shmid and Umma (modern Jokka), both recently excavated by the Iraqis. More than 200 men were seen on the site [i.e., Umma, I think]; a cemetery dating from 2600 B.C. was being plundered, and an Early Dynastic building was riddled with new holes. At Umm al Aqarib and Adab, large-scale looting and damage also were visible." [I wish the map would show all the mentioned sites]
Fig. 1: "Copyright National Geographic Maps  -  National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration funded a team of archaeologists to conduct a survey of Iraq’s archaeological sites, the first since war with the United States.  This map shows the sites and cities they visited."

Photo 2: "Photograph by Steve McCurry © 2003 National Geographic Society  -  A fresh looter’s pit at the ancient southern Mesopotamian city of Larsa draws interest from a group organized by National Geographic to check on key archaeological sites in Iraq. From left is archaeologist Henry Wright of the University of Michigan, who led the trip; an Iraqi driver; U.S. Major Glenn Sadowski; a Marine from the 225th Marine battalion; and team member Elizabeth Stone, an archaeologist based at Stony Brook University in New York."

Photo 3: "Photograph by Randy Olson © 2003 National Geographic Society  -  Pot sherds and stone tools litter an archaeological site near Tell Afar in northern Iraq. Tell Afar, an area with a series of cities reaching back to the fourth millennium B.C., was the site where team member Tony Wilkinson of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute worked until 1990. Wilkinson returned to the site on the National Geographic expedition to find pottery that he had documented spread across the ground."





Photo: "Die Direktorin des irakischen Nationalmuseums, Nawala al-Mutwalli. Foto : APA" [the director of the Iraq National Museum, Nawala al-Mutawalli]

  • C. Wyers, "Hussein 'Ruined' Ruins of Babylon," in Marine Corps News, June 11, 2003: "The Shat al Hillah canal, which comes from the Euphrates River, runs through Babylon, causing groundwater to seep into the soil.  Successive rulers of Babylon built over the buildings of their predecessors because the foundations were being eaten away by the groundwater.  Hussein's many construction projects in Babylon only made things worse. 'Saddam did too many things,' said Mohammed Tahiti, director of the museum in Babylon since 1997.  'He dug three artificial lakes in Babylon.  To make a good excavation, (you have to) reach a level below 15 meters.  I think he could have destroyed the level of Hamurabi, and the level above it.' Hussein also built over the walls of ancient Babylon, reconstructing much of the Southern Palace, and a Greek amphitheater originally built under the rule of Alexander the Great. 'This construction must be removed,' said Taheri, gesturing to the surrounding walls of the rebuilt Southern Palace.  'All this is new, built above the archeological site.  He (had) too much wrong in the history of Babylon.  He could ruin the ruins of Babylon.'"
Photo 1: "Lance Cpl. Zach Hauschildt, a cook with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, from Salt Lake City, gazes at the wall of the Ishtar Gate beneath a carving of Marduk, an ancient Babylonian god, June 5, 2003.  The Ishtar Gate is part of the Southern Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II, where valuable archaological evidence has been destroyed by construction done under Saddam Hussein. Photo by: Sgt. Colin Wyers"

Photo 2: "Petty Officer 2nd Class Victor Penavenegas, from Dumas, Texas and religious program assistant with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, listens to a tour guide outside of the rebuilt Southern Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II, June 5, 2003.  Construction done under Saddam Hussein  destroyed valuable archeological evidence at the site of the original palace in Babylon. Photo by: Sgt. Colin Wyers"

Photo 3: "Corporal George Villanueva, legal chief with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, from Los Angeles, stands outside the Southern Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II near a statue of the Lion of Babylon June 5, 2003.  Construction done under Saddam Hussein has destroyed valuable archaological evidence at the site of the original palace in Babylon. Photo by: Sgt. Colin Wyers"





Photo: no caption [seems to be a trunk with artifacts being inspected by a Museum staffer]

"Having persuaded museum staff to allow me access to the five on-site storerooms, [now how did he pull that off? more explanation, please] we all had something of a surprise. Three were still locked, and looked untouched. The remaining two had been entered, with one not even having been locked. [again, how did he ascertain that fact?] These storerooms were generally not ransacked, but clearly some items had been stolen. It seems that the thieves knew where the most precious objects were, and had made straight for them. The precision of the thieves' actions suggests either that they were professional criminals, or that the thefts were to some degree an inside job. Keys had obviously been obtained - whether stolen, handed over under duress, or being used by renegade staff - because they were found in the storerooms." "The unlocked storeroom held an equally strange secret - the parts of a machine gun, a hand grenade and a box containing an Iraqi rocket-propelled-grenade were found there. ... Rather than being a neutral cultural complex, they found it to be a well fortified fighting position manned by around 150 Iraqis, including the Republican Guard. [isn't this a huge jump: from 1 fighting position inside to  a fortified compound with 150 soldiers?] The US tanks had been fired on from the museum and had returned fire. It was because the museum had been used as a strong point in the battle for that quarter of the city that guards were not posted around it immediately." [I don't understand this either: according to the international conventions, the occupying force has to protect a museum, it doesn't matter whether it was involved in a gunfight earlier or not]; "US forces showed me a bomb shelter that contained over 300 metal cases from the museum, packed with 40,000 precious books and manuscripts. The store was well prepared and protected, and its guardians said they did not want to return the contents to the museum while the existing Ba'ath party hierarchy remained in charge." [incorrect: this is the Saddam House of Manuscripts collection, not a part of the National Museum; maybe Mr. Cruickshank could have asked some of the local experts? of course, the people protecting these manuscripts didn't want them to go back to the Museum as that wasn't where they belonged in the first place; they probably weren't so sure about returning them to the then still Saddam House of Manuscripts (now Iraq House of Manuscripts) either as its collection had been formed by unpopular and unceremonious seizure of collections all over the country in the 1990s]; "What actually survives at the museum could take years to establish - and it does seem that some of the thefts were to some degree an inside job. [real proof?] In addition, it seems likely that certain items could have been removed from the museum years ago by members of the Ba'ath Party. [proof? not that it would surprise anyone] Museum staff may not have been involved, would have been powerless to stop it, and could now be ashamed of their failure to protect national treasures. This could explain why many staff members give contradictory accounts of what has gone on - they are attempting to use the confusion created by the current looting to disguise old losses. [this seems a little too calculating to me and also would've required a lot of planning, surely someone should've spilled the beans by now? wait, there was that one account of some Museum staff accusing senior staff of being thieves, unfortunately without detail–did any journalist or investigator bother to talk to them and find out more?] The fog of war can sometimes be very convenient. [ORHA's, no, CPA's Mr. Cordone seems to be willing to let bygones be bygones; if Mr. Cruickshank were right, why? a pact to keep certain things covered up on both sides maybe? I don't know if I want to go down that path...] The British government, the British Museum and UNESCO are all now offering help to the Iraq Museum. It seems to me that they should be very cautious. The museum is too important to the Iraqi people - to us all - to be left in the hands of people whose past is murky and mysterious. An International Commission must be established to secure the museum and to plan its future." [see also Cruickshank June 19, 2003 and May 8, 2005]
Photo: "RELIEF IN BAGHDAD: Fewer than 50 items from the collection of the Iraqi National Museum's main exhibition are still missing. The museum will reopen early next month.
JAMAL SAIDI/REUTERS" [one of the few signs of battle on the façade of the National Museum in Baghdad; don't worry: not an ancient relief but a recreation]

  • V. Duhaime, "De précieux artefacts dérobés lors du conflit en Irak sont retrouvés dans les égoûts!," in Canoë (Canada), with online video, June 8, 2003: only about 50 pieces of the Treasure of Nimrud are missing, according to the text: I think they meant to say only 50 from the Museum–which is also incorrect, actually; never mind, it's the video that matters most here: scenes from the Museum but nothing about the vaults under the Central Bank
Photo: "Archives LCN" [these are some of the returned artifacts at the Museum, not part of the Treasure of Nimrud]

  • Photo: "Sat Jun  7,12:55 PM ET         Looted artifacts are seen on a table at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, Iraq ( news -web sites ), in this May 6, 2003 file photo, after they were recovered. The world-famous treasures of Nimrud, unaccounted for since Baghdad fell two months ago, have been found in good condition in the Central Bank, in a secret vault-inside-a-vault, submerged in sewage water. U.S. occupation forces also announce that fewer than 50 items from the Iraqi National Museum's main exhibition remain unaccounted for after April'slooting and destruction. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)" [Yahoo News Photos]

  • M. Sweet, "Marines Volunteer to Restore Babylon Treasure," in Marine Corps News, June 7, 2003: "Volunteers spent the afternoon of June 7 cleaning the [Babylon M]useum. Technical experts now plan to help make the museum better than it was before the war." "... Senior Chief Petty Officer Don N. Greene, a Navy reservist from Bevard, N.C., who is consulting on the rehabilitation project. Greene, who is a project chief with the Seabees, was sent to assist the museum in designing its heating and air-conditioning system." "'Since 1978 the average Iraqi was not allowed to come here,' said [Marine Capt. Gavino] Rivas [, a reservist who is working as an archaeological and antiquities specialist with the 3rd Civil Affairs Group].  'I was talking to one of our translators who lives only six kilometers from here and has never seen this site.'" "Rivas is coordinating volunteers who will help with some artistic rehabilitation.  He has already drawn up a list of volunteers to touch up murals that were damaged.  He is also found some Seabees who are willing to try and repair the models of Babylon that were damaged during the looting spree." "Greene is working with local contractors and engineers who will install and maintain the electrical and cooling systems." "[The Marines] are investing more than $35,000 to protect the artifacts said Rivas. 'I am pleased with the [Iraqi] people who we are working with,' said Rivas.  'They are professional and have a lot of pride in protecting the artifacts.' His goal is to have the rehabilitation project completed in time for the annual Babylonian festival that is scheduled for September 22."
Photo: "Using a fire hose, Petty Officer 3rd Class Timmothy P. Furr, a mechanic from Springfiled Mo., cleans up the entrance of the ruins of the ancient walled city of Babylon, Iraq.  His reserve Seabee unit, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 15, based out of Kansas City, Mo., is working along side Marines, soldiers and Iraqis to rehabilitate some of the museum grounds that were damaged by looters shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein.  Photo by: Army Sgt. Michael Sweet"

  • M. McEntee, "Marines Encounter History in Babylon," in Stars and Stripes. European Edition, June 6, 2003: "Babylon, the 4,000-year-old city in the heart of Iraq, now serves as headquarters for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. ... As a side benefit, [Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Thomas] Webber said, Marines protect the grounds and museum from looting." "The Germans, however, unearthed the [Ishtar G]ate in 1904 and took it to the Pergamom [sic] Museum in Berlin. They tried to take the Lion of Babylon as well, but the 500-ton statue was too heavy to float down the nearby Euphrates River. What is left is impressive, Marines said. But they wish there were more. 'I think the Germans raped the hell out of this place,' said Marine Pfc. Kevin Schopen, 19, of Jefferson, Wis., after his tour. 'I feel like I have to go to Berlin to see Babylon.'"
Photo 1: "Michael Abrams / S&S - While one Marine photographs a buddy in front of a map showing the ancient sites and kingdoms in Iraq, two others snap photos of a Japanese television crew filming them. The Marines had just finished a tour of ancient Babylon."

Photo 2: "Michael Abrams / S&S - Standing outside the Throne Hall of Babylon, U.S. Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Tom Webber gives a tour of the ancient city."

Photo 3: "Michael Abrams / S&S - A palace built by Saddam Hussein at Babylon towers over the ruins of ancient King Nebuchadnezzar’s Northern Palace."






  • R. Atwood, "In the North of Iraq: Mosul's Museum, Hatra, and Nimrud," in Archaeology, online, June 4, 2003: "Museum officials are still assessing the damage and resolutely declined to estimate the number of pieces lost. But at least 34 artifacts from the main galleries are missing, many more are damaged, and two storage rooms were looted and heavily vandalized at almost the same time as looters hit the National Museum in Baghdad.  'It was the same international gang. That's what we think,' the Mosul museum's [director?], Bernadette Hanna-Metti, told ..." "[Museum staffers] moved the most valuable and portable items, about 5,500 in all, to storage at the Baghdad museum, with the last box heading for Baghdad only three days before U.S. and British bombing began. ... Mosul museum officials have received no word yet from Baghdad on the fate of objects they sent there." "The largest single loss at Mosul was of 30 bronze panels that once hung on a gate leading into the Assyrian city of Balawat and dating from about the ninth century B.C. Looters ripped the panels off a replica of the wooden gate. Fifty-four other panels from the same gate are safe, though looters damaged some trying to remove them too. The panels are embossed with scenes from royal life at Balawat, a site near Mosul ..." "Also missing were three cuneiform tablets from Khorsabad, a site north of Mosul." "'You can divide the looting into two stages. First came the specialists to take what they wanted, and then the public came in and took whatever they could,' said [Saba] al-Omari [a curator at the museum]. Display cases and windows throughout the museum were shattered, and security cameras installed three years ago were no help because the looters stole them too. A cuneiform tablet from the Assyrian city of Nineveh was taken, but a second, larger tablet from the same site fell to the ground and broke into five pieces. Its writing is intact, however, and according to al-Omari the tablet can be restored.  Many other pieces were heavily damaged, including a life-sized stone lion from the Hellenic site of Hatra, south of Mosul, which the looters threw down and cracked in several places. Looters also damaged two large wooden twelfth-century Islamic doors as they attempted to carry them away unsuccessfully." "Evidence that the looters had some knowledge of the museum's collection came from the institution's library, where thieves ignored aisles and aisles of books and stole only 20 of the most valuable volumes and atlases, some dating from over 200 years ago, said Manhal Jabr, director of antiquities for Ninawa Province which includes Mosul and about 1,500 known archaeological sites." "... Jabr showed me the two [looted] storage rooms ... At one, looters kicked open a door, clipped a padlock and then trampled through the clay pots and tablets, breaking at least a dozen of them and stealing an unknown number of others. At a second storage room outside the main building the looters had battered open the door. That room contained only very large stone pieces and is not known to have lost anything, probably because the pieces were too heavy to move, he said." "... Major Eric Holliday, was discussing with Jabr the U.S. army's plans to contract out purchase of barbed wire and lights to local merchants. The lights and the fencing will be used at archaeological sites near Mosul to protect them for looters after the departure of U.S. troops guarding them, a date which Holliday admits may not be far off." "The [US] army sent about a dozen soldiers to guard Hatra, a site dating from the first century B.C. south of Mosul, after looters hacked out a face carved at the apex of a stone archway." "'The guards are armed but they're afraid to kill because if they do, then it's going to put their family in jeopardy of being killed. It's this tribal justice thing,' said Holliday. ... the guards have also not been paid ... Half a U.S. platoon now guards Nimrud, south of Mosul, where looters in early May chiseled out two small pieces of stone friezes after a brief gun battle with security guards at the site."



Photo 1: "Muzahim Mahmud, director of the Assyrian site Nimrud, points to damage done by looters in early May to a frieze at the site. (Roger Atwood)"

Photo 2: "Mahmud stands in front of the Nimrud site, now protected by two U.S. Army Humvees and half a platoon of troops. (Roger Atwood)"
  • "Coalition Working to Reopen Baghdad Museum by September," in Yahoo! News, online, June 4, 2003: "'Even if it's just two rooms, my goal is to open it by September to highlight the resumption of cultural activity in the country,' said retired Italian ambassador Piero Cordone. The sole non-American adviser to the coalition occupying Iraq ... said work on the inventory was underway, although between 1,800 and 2,000 exhibits were missing. 'There were about 3,000 to 3,500 works stolen and out of that 1,200 were recovered." "Cordone said he would shortly go to the Iraqi Central Bank vaults to check on the 'treasure of Nimrod', ... We will check they are still there, do an inventory, clean them and then put them on show."
Photo: "Wed Jun  4, 3:42 AM ET      US troops stand next to pieces recovered from the looted Baghdad museum. The museum is expected to reopen in September after thousands of pieces were looted in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Saddam Hussein ( news -web sites ) regime(AFP/File/Behrouz Mehri)"

  • M. Martin, "Virtual Future for Ancient Relics. A 3D Scanning Technique Being Tested at the British Museum Could Pave the Way for Virtual Museum Displays," in BBC News, June 4, 2003: "... last year, when museum curators from Iraq requested copies of 1,000 clay tablets to furnish a new exhibition in Mosel [sic]." "Copying this many objects using traditional resin moulds would take several years. But using the new laser scanner, the production time would be cut to weeks. A Scottish company called Kestrel 3D has been given two tablets to create samples. This scanning method is already used in medicine and aircraft design. 'I think this is the first time it's been used for lumps of clay that look a bit like broken dog biscuits,' said Dr Finkel." "If [the experiment] proves successful, Dr Finkel said large parts of the museum's collection could be made available online."
Photo: "'Many of the tablets are very delicate. But when you use a laser it doesn't harm the surface at all'  Dr Irving Finkel, British Museum"
  • E. Rich, "A Treasure Beneath the Rubble. Never Really Lost, Priceless Antiquities of Nimrud Appear to Have Been Found," in The Hartford Courant (Connecticut), June 3, 2003: "The antiquities include the Treasure of Nimrud, a collection of gold crowns and jewelry from a thriving capital of Assyria, ... Those pieces ... are to Iraq what the Crown Jewels are to England." "In the center of the vault was an unimpressive-looking wooden crate, paint flaking, its panels water-logged and soft. Around the crate were thin wires with a small lead seal, intact. In the far corner was another crate, with a shiny metal box resting on top, and a third in another corner, this one with a smaller wooden box on top." "[Jason] Williams' [(an anthropologist and filmmaker)] team from National Geographic pumped out more than 1 million gallons of water, perhaps as much as 5 million, before finishing late last week, he said. There was evidence looters had tried to break into the vaults, with disastrous results. Bodies lay in the anteroom. At least one man was killed, apparently, when he fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a vault door at close range. The door held." "It is unclear when the crates will be opened, what damage will be found, or what will happen next to the treasures. A museum official declined to comment Monday." "Over the years, there have been attempts to remove the pieces from the hiding place, [Muhammad, the deputy governor of the bank,] said."
Photo: "A PHOTO from 'The Graves of Assyrian Queens in Nimrud' shows one of the artifacts listed as part of the Treasure of Nimrud. The book was published by Iraq’s Department of Antiquities and Heritage. (Yale University)      Jun. 3, 2003      Copyright 2003, Hartford Courant"

  • "Ancient Assyrian Treasures Believed Found in Baghdad," in National Geographic News, June 2, 2003: "'The bank was flooded right up to the ground level,' said Gayle Young, director of story development, [National Geographic] Ultimate Explorer. 'It took three pumps and three weeks to get all the water out. At first the water kept flooding into the bank as fast as we pumped it out, but then it was discovered there was a valve that was open. Once we were able to shut that off we could drain all the water and the bank officials gained access to the vaults,' Young said. Young said the three boxes that contained the treasures were found in the seventh vault that was inspected, exactly where it was believed they would be. An archaeologist who placed the seals on the boxes confirmed that they had not been broken. 'We expect that they will be opened tomorrow in the presence of experts and witnesses,' Young said." "'We had a crisis situation where we needed to get access to the dinars in the vaults of the Central Bank to pay salaries, and thanks to National Geographic we've been able to open the vaults, to pump out the water, and pay the salaries,' said Jacob Nell, advisor to Iraq's Ministry of Finance." "The gold jewelry and other items recovered from the Central Bank of Iraq were discovered in royal tombs in Nimrud from 1988 to 1990. The tombs yielded gold, precious metal, and other artifacts from the 9th and 8th centuries B.C." "All tombs were found below floors in the royal site known as the Northwest Palace, built by the 9th Century B.C. Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II."
Photo: "A gold crown found in one of the royal tombs in Nimrud, the ancient Assyrian capital. Also in the tombs, which were excavated in the late 1980s, were dozens of other artifacts, several skeletons, and an inscription of a curse on anyone who disturbed the burial site, calling on the gods to impose 'restlessness' on his spirit and corpse for all eternity. Photograph copyright the Iraq Museum"

Photo: no caption; from the text: "... a picture of members of the 109th Engineer Battalion from Sturgis and the 114th Civil Engineers from Sioux Falls ... stationed at Tallil Air Base in Iraq ... posing in front of the Ziggurat, an ancient temple once used for worshipping which dates back to 500 B.C."


Photo 1: "Uruk was the birthplace of the written word, about 3200 b.c. Its fame, one scribe wrote, 'like the rainbow, reaches up to the sky as the new moon standing in the heavens.' A ziggurat to the sky god Anu (... in ruins) towered over the city."

Photo 2: "Saddam ordered restoration of the  Babylon  ruins, harming the ancient foundations."

Photo 3: "The original Ishtar Gate (... a 1980s replica) was moved to Berlin in 1903. It was built in 572 b.c.; both Nebuchadnezzar II and the prophet Daniel would have walked through it"


  • L.O. Adams, "Harpist From Ur," in Zwoje - The Scrolls (Sweden), online, 35 (June 2003): nice article on the discovery and history of the harps/lyres of Ur by a professional harp player; "The main element which distinguishes these two instruments (if not the shape of the sound-box or the frame) are the strings: diminishing in length in harp, and almost equal in length in the lyre. Most Sumerian lyres had eleven strings, and it is assumed that each string produced a different sound, thus suggesting that Sumerian music for the lyre was more complicated than its contemporary Egyptian music, written for four-stringed lyre. The large Sumerian lyres would have sounded somewhat like a stringed deep tone bass, and would have produced a voluminous sound, as powerful as a bull's bellowing, apparently in a human imitation of a bull's 'voice'."

    Photo: "Sir Leonard Woolley with the triangular frame of an excavated Sumerian harp, 1920s.   (Plaster cast.) Such a frame is an archetype for the more developed mediaeval and modern framed harps."





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).