The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Seventy-Four: Second 1/2 of April 2006





This is the seventy-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.


  • L. Harris, "Iran takes lead in restoration of Samarra mosque. Private sector investment will pay for the rebuilding of the Shiite holy site," in The Art Newspaper (UK), April 27, 2006: "But it was the Research Centre of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation of Iran (ICHTO) which signed an agreement of co-operation for the restoration of the shrine with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. ...  Last July ICHTO announced that the repair and renovation of Shiite holy centres was a priority, and that private sector interest in investment was so strong that the initiative would not need government funding. The Iranian non-governmental organisation, Reconstruction Organisation of Holy Shrines in Iraq, which also announced that it was sending teams to help with the operations at Samarra, says it has completed over 300 projects in Iraq. In the violent aftermath of the Askariya bombing, Shiite protesters attacked numerous Sunni mosques in Baghdad, while in Basra they set fire to a Sunni shrine containing the seventh-century tomb of Talha bin Obeid-Allah, one of the main opponents of Imam Ali’s accession to the Caliphate and thus a symbolic enemy of the Shia. The following day in al Madai’in, Sunni gunmen fired two rockets at the tomb of Salman al-Farisi, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, whose shrine is revered by Shiites. Initial reports claimed that it had been entirely destroyed, but it later emerged that in fact damage was light."

    Photo: "Destroyed on 22 February: the Askariya shrine, also known as the Golden Dome, is one of the most revered sites of Shiite Islam. It contains the tombs of the tenth and 11th imams, Ali al Hadi (d. AD 868) and his son Hassan al Askari (d. AD 874), who are considered by Shiite Muslims to be successors to the Prophet Muhammad. It also honours al Hadi’s young grandson, Muhammad al Mahdi, who disappeared there, and whom Shiites regard as the 12th and 'hidden' imam, who will one day return. The Askariya shrine has been continually added to since the tenth century, often by Iranian rulers—its great dome was re-built in 1623 by the Safavid Shah Abbas, and was first covered in golden tiles by the Qajar Shah Nasir al Din in 1868"

  • A. Dolatowska and A. Jegliński, "Cultural Heritage," in Multinational Division Central-South (Poland), online, April 27, 2005: report from Polish archaeologists embedded with the Polish military in southern Iraq: "Between September and October last year 3 aid projects for the Guard of Antiquities (Facility Protection Service) in Al Diwaniyah province were implemented by the MND CS under direction of Polish archeologists. They included supply of all kinds of equipment necessary to Guard’s work, ranging from uniforms, helmets, bullet-proof vests, night vision goggles and a simple communication system to 2 new patrol cars. In November the guards received a furnished living-office container provided with source of water and electricity. It will serve them as the post and enable providing 24/24 h protection to the archeological site of Tell as Sadoum, where excavations, the only ones in Iraq last year, were conducted until summer by the University Al Qadisiyah, from Ad Diwaniyah city." [4-29-06: I am not aware of much other information about this unique excavation other than announcements for recent or soon-to-take-place lectures by the excavator, Dr. Abbas Ali Abbas Al-Hussainy (el-Qadissiyyah University, Iraq) at the University of Bologna and the Muzeum Archeologiczne w Poznaniu (Poznań Archaeological Museum, Poland); ancient Marad is usually placed at modern Wannah wa Sadun: could it be that there are 2 conjoined tells, Wannah and Sadum/n? I'm not sure]; "6 months earlier the site was already surrounded with protective barbed wire fence by Polish miners [sic; sappers, soldiers of the engineer corps?]. The container was officially handed over to commander of the Guard by Polish Minister of the National Defence, Mr. Radosław Sikorski. ... Beginning of this year, the Department of Archeology at Al Qadisiyah University ... was donated a wide range of school and training equipment. ... satellite internet, new computers, slide and data show projectors, digital cameras and scanners, ... photocopy machine ... air conditioners ... a 100 KVA generator."

    "Polish archeologists have been continuously conducting reconnaissance flights and photo tours of archeological sites in the responsibility area of the Division. At present, majority of greatest sites having been already photographed, they make endeavors to create a base of photographic documentation ... only in Al Diwaniyah province there are about 650 sites officially registered by the Iraqi service of antiquities. ... Up to date, 45 sites have been photographed, including the largest and most famous: ... Abu Antik ... Babilon ... Barnum ... Bisamiyah (Adab) ... Borsippa ... Ishan Bahrijat (Isin) ... nJamdat Nasr ... Tell el Okhaymir (Kish) ... Tell el Inghara (Kish) ... Moukha Al Zeblijah ... Nuffar (Nippur) ... St. Eanhe ... Tell ad Dahar ... Tell Abu Salabih ... Tell Damar ... Tell Nahla ... Tell Abu Hatab (Kissura) ... Tell es-Sadoum (Marad) ... Tell Fara (Shuruppak) ... Tell Ibzaykh (Zabalam) ... Tell Jokha (Umma) ... Tell Szamit – (Klan) ... Wanah[.] Another field of activity is work over increasing soldiers’ consciousness of the Iraqi cultural heritage and legal regulations concerning it. In reference to this issue general trainings connected with a slideshow were held for the Military Police and special leaflets will be distributed to soldiers of the Division. In addition, soldiers, while buying gifts in at-the-camp bazaar, can always take archeologists’ advice." [this is a little vague...?]; "The MND CS contributes to establishing tighter contacts between Iraqi and Polish archeologists. They have organized transport to Poland and back to Iraq for delegations of officials from the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and universities of Ad Diwaniyah and Al Hilla. In coming weeks an able Iraqi scholar will be conveyed [sic; sent] by the Division to Poland for a scientific scholarship founded by Polish Ministry of Culture and Polish Center of Mediterranean Archeology."

    Photos 1-6: "Cultural Heritage" [it's too bad that there are no captions for the pictures...; photos 1 and 3 look like Babylon, photo 5 may very well be the excavations at Tell el-Sadum]

    Photos 7-10: "Reconnaissance actions of Polish Archeologists" [photo 7 looks like Babylon; no. 10 could be Tell el-Sadum again]

    Photo 11: [found on web server, not included in article itself]
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  • J. Gettleman, "Babylon Awaits an Iraq Without Fighting," in The New York Times, April 18, 2006: "Ancient Babylon, celebrated as a fount of law, writing and urban living, sits just outside the modern-day city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Hilla is neither haunted by Sunni insurgents nor overwhelmed by Shiite militias. And though it has a mix of Shiites and Sunnis, it has not been afflicted by the sectarian violence that has paralyzed so many other heterogeneous parts of Iraq. ... Emad Lafta al-Bayati, Hilla's mayor, has big plans for Babylon. 'I want restaurants, gift shops, long parking lots,' he said. ... [Unesco] is pumping millions of dollars into protecting and restoring Babylon and a handful of other ancient ruins in Iraq. Unesco has even printed up a snazzy brochure, with Babylon listed as the premier destination, to hand out to wealthy donors. 'Cultural tourism could become Iraq's second biggest industry, after oil,' said Philippe Delanghe, a United Nations official helping with the project. But before Iraq becomes the next Egypt, he said wryly, 'a few little things have to happen.' One of those, of course, is better security. The American military still maintains bases near Babylon, but next month, in a sign of how relatively stable the area has become, most troops will pull out and head north to Baghdad, where they are needed more. Many Iraqis said it was about time. Occupying forces have been blamed for much of Babylon's recent demise. Donny George, head of Iraq's board of antiquities, said that Polish troops dug trenches through an ancient temple and that American contractors paved over ruins to make a helicopter landing pad. 'How are we supposed to get rid of the helipad now?' Mr. George asked. 'With jackhammers? Can you imagine taking a jackhammer to the remains of one of the most important cities in the history of mankind? I mean, come on, this is Babylon.'" "Today, the site is dominated by the two kitschy palaces Mr. Hussein built, some mud ruins, some deep holes and lots of barbed wire. But even Mr. George is not dispirited. He is meeting regularly with archaeologists from around the world and laying plans for a cuneiform study center and a tourist village — to be erected outside the ancient city's borders, no doubt. 'One day millions of people will visit Babylon,' he said. 'I'm just not sure anybody knows when.'"


Photo: "Johan Spanner/Polaris, for The New York Times.  A Polish helicopter flies over excavated parts of Babylon. Over the years, colonial powers took artifacts and Saddam Hussein built on Nebuchadnezzar's palace. Then, the occupation."
  • J. Stockinger, "Recovering pillaged Iraqi art is expert's goal," in The Capital Times (Wisconsin), April 17, 2006: "'There is no doubt that the international trade in illegal Iraqi art and antiquities is funding the insurgency,' says Col. Matthew Bogdanos, a reserve officer in the U.S. Marines who holds advanced degrees in law, art history and military strategy." "[The National Museum in Baghdad] is a huge museum that is one of the finest in the world. It takes up 11 acres and has more than 500,000 objects including of some of the oldest in the world,' he said in a phone interview from his home in Manhattan. 'It compares favorably to the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London.'" "'We live in a world that too often relies on a reductive dualism. Israeli or Palestinian, red state or blue state - everything is either-or. Our shared cultural heritage offers one of the best ways we have to bridge that kind of cultural divide. It is crucially important to me and our shared cultural heritage that this stuff isn't seen just a bunch of old alabaster with funny writing on it. It speaks and resonates with all cultures. The Sacred Vase of Warka (circa 3200 B.C.) is one of the world's first art objects and is gorgeous. It speaks to all of us, whether we are Jewish, Muslim or Christian. I want the facts about the art thefts in Iraq to stay in the news cycle. I want people to understand that it mattered yesterday, matters today and will matter tomorrow.' One way to keep the story visible would be for the United Nations to establish a permanent commission to investigate the worldwide black market in stolen art and antiquities. Right now, Bogdanos said, the U.S., Britain and Italy are leading such an effort, but most nations - including the vital trading center Switzerland - are withholding vital support for the idea. ... 'I want the United Nations to study and collect data on the trade in antiquities and do it methodically, not haphazardly. The origin nations don't have the resources, so we need the transit nations to fund it."


Photo: "AP Photo/Murad Sezer  -  Artifacts are seen on a table at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad after they were recovered. Work has begun on recovering some of civilization's earliest artifacts that disappeared in 2003 followed the fall of Saddam Hussein"


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).