November 04, 2006


Dr. Çig update

As you know from my November 2 post Dr. Çig quickly cleared in court, Dr. Çig left the courtroom in triumph:

This photo accompanies the NY Times article by Sebnem Arsu. We actually learn a new and important fact here: "As such, her satirical letter argued, the wearing of a head scarf should not indicate a woman’s morality or religious devotion in today’s world. This comparison and other satires appeared in her book 'My Reactions as a Citizen' ..." So it seems these letters were satirical in intent! "My Reactions to Citizenship," the stilted translation of the original title I used previously (October 22 post Muazzez Çığ) stands hereby corrected also. Arsu: "More than 50 people chanted slogans supporting Ms. Cig and applauded as she left the courthouse ..." USA Today added: "Cig rejected the charge in court saying: 'I am a woman of science. ... I never insulted anyone,' private NTV television reported. Twenty-five lawyers crammed into the small courtroom to defend her. In what some said was a move to avoid endangering Turkey's EU bid, the prosecution supported dropping the charge, saying Cig's actions had not in any way 'endangered public safety.'" I actually found an article mentioning the Assyriological community's support for Dr. Çig: "The Cig case reportedly has been criticised by Brussels [i.e., the EU]. It also drew fire from the International Association for Assyriology (IAA). 'A veteran researcher who, throughout a long career, has contributed to the recovery of the ancient past, Dr. Cig is a model representative of Turkish contribution to scholarship,' the IAA said in a statement on Tuesday, appealing for the dismissal of the charges." (Southeast European Times, a US Dept. of Defense web site).

One final note: my mention of the Armenian genocide along with "historical fact" in my October 22 post Muazzez Çığ caused some reaction... Let me put it this way: I am obviously not a scholar of the Ottoman empire, Turkish history, Armenian history or World War I. I followed in this what is the general educated consensus in Western Europe as far as I know. Granted that the picture was a lot more complicated and less black-and-white than it is often portrayed. I know, for instance, that the Turkish authorities were definitely not the only ones for whom there is evidence of less-than-exemplary behavior in this part of the world around that time. The Greeks come to mind... (please, no e-mails!). Anyway, my main point in the post in question was: "Nevertheless it does not invalidate [Çig's] cause. After all, she is not taking [Pamuk] to court or threatening him. She is entitled to her opinion just like he is." One must be able to agree to disagree.

• S. Arsu, "Turkish Scholar Who Mocked Head Scarves Is Acquitted," in The New York Times, November 2, 2006
• [S. Fraser], "Court acquits Turkish archaeologist charged for her view on head scarves," in USA Today, November 1, 2006
• "Turkish scholar acquitted of inciting religious hatred," in Southeast European Times, online, November 2, 2006

November 02, 2006


Iraqcrisis digest, Vol 1 #737-738

Note from the IW&A Blog editor
As a new feature, I am introducing the daily digests of the Iraqcrisis e-mailing list. I start with manually posting two at once because the last one refers to the previous one. If I can work out the kinks, they will be posted automatically to the blog from now on. Iraqcrisis is run by the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, more in specific by our good friend Chuck Jones. The list web site states it is a "moderated list on cultural property damaged, destroyed or lost from libraries and museums in Iraq during and after the Iraq War." I would say the War never really ended but I guess that's a discussion for another day... One final thing: e-mail attachments are not included in these digests nor are they archived on the Iraqcrisis web site. For those you need to be a subscriber, I'm afraid.


Date: Nov 1, 2006 12:01 PM
Subject: Iraqcrisis digest, Vol 1 #738 - 1 msg

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Today's Topics:

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For the record, the Association of University Lecturers press release
is publicly archived at

-Chuck Jones-

Iraqcrisis mailing list -


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Many will know of the role the Iraqi Association of University Lecturers has played in publicizing
the dangers faced by academics in Iraq.

A couple of days ago I was sent the attached press release about an attack on the headquarters of
the AUL on October 9 by coalition forces and Iraqi Police.

On Monday, Issam al-Rawi, head of the AUL was murdered as he left his home:

-Chuck Jones-

[...] mirror not being updated untill further notice

The mirror site of this blog and the web site as a whole won't be updated for a while, at least not untill I have dealt with an internal hard drive malfunction on my computer. Sorry guys! The internet server is the primary location and will still be updated.

November 01, 2006


Dr. Çig quickly cleared in court

Regarding the law suit against Dr. Çig (see October 31 post IAA appeal for Dr. Çig): she has been swiftly let off the hook by the judge. I quote from the International Association for Assyriology web site:

From the BBC came this encouraging message:

"A court in the Turkish city of Istanbul has acquitted a 92-year-old academic of charges of insulting Muslim women and inciting religious hatred.
Archaeologist Muazzez Ilmiye Cig was prosecuted over a book in which she linked the wearing of headscarves with ancient Sumerian sexual rites. The judge ruled at the first hearing of her trial that her actions did not constitute a crime. Dr Cig's publisher was also cleared in a trial lasting less than half an hour. The archaeologist was applauded by supporters as she left the courtroom"

The acquittal of all charges against Muazzez Ilmiye Çig and Ismet Ogutucu, her publisher, is very gratifying.

The International Association for Assyriology has received almost 150 responses to its appeal and we are heartened by it. The appeal is now suspended and we hope that there will be no future need for any similar call on behalf of intellectual rights and plea for legal sanity.

See November 5 post Dr. Çig update.

October 31, 2006


We, the undersigned, ...

At the end of September, a select group of eminent archaeologists sent a letter to the highest authorities of Iraq to plead for better protection of its archaeological heritage. It was released to the media toward the end of October. I quote:

September 23, 2006

H. E. Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq
H. E. Nouri Kamel al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq
H. E. Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs
H. E. Dr. Asaad Al-Hashimi, Minister of Culture
Mufid Mohammad Jawad al-Jazairi, Chair of Cultural Committee, Iraqi Parliament
[former Minister of Culture]
Maysoon al-Damluji, Member of the Iraqi Parliament
[former Deputy Minister of Culture with strong ties to the UK, see Bechler]

Your Excellencies:

We, the undersigned, would like to express our concern for the present and future state of antiquities and cultural heritage in Iraq. As individuals who have done research for years in Iraq, who have taught its great history and culture, and who have made great efforts to call attention to the potential and real damage to Iraq's cultural heritage due to war and its aftermath, we ask you to ensure the safety of the museums, archaeological sites, and standing monuments in the entire country.

Most immediately we ask that the holdings of the Iraq National Museum be kept safeguarded and intact as one collection rather than subdivided. We also ask that the Antiquities Guards, who have been recruited and trained to protect the ancient sites in the countryside, be kept as a force, meaning that they continue to be paid and equipped and their numbers increased. This force is the key to halting the illegal digging of sites and damaging of monuments that has been occurring since April 2003. We furthermore ask that Iraq’s cultural heritage be treated as part of the rich culture of the Iraqi people, to be preserved for present and future generations. Therefore we ask that cultural heritage either be independent or that it be administered by the Ministry of Culture, which in the past has made preservation and interpretation its highest priorities, implemented by a professional, unified State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.

Antiquities and heritage are so important to Iraq that it would be justifiable to make the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage into a new ministry or to connect that Board directly to the cabinet general secretariat, as has been done with the Iraqi Academy of Sciences.

Iraq's cultural heritage is an unparalleled one, and as the tradition from which many other civilizations are derived, it is of great concern to all peoples in the world. It is too important a heritage to be sub-divided and should remain under a national administration. The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, as part of the Ministry of Culture, has had a record of good administration, and it has been in the past the best Antiquities organization in the Middle East. For years, with its strong Antiquities Law, that made all antiquities and antiquities sites the property of the state, Iraq protected its antiquities sites better than most countries in the world, and it should rise to that level once again.

All persons who work in Antiquities should be above politics and allegiance to any party, and definitely should have no connection to the antiquities trade. Too much of the ancient treasures of Iraq have already been lost through looting and smuggling, and the damage done especially to the great cities of Sumer and Babylonia has been very extensive. Only a strong, national, non-political State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, backed fully by the force of the state, can preserve the heritage that is left.

You are in positions to save the Cultural Heritage of Iraq for everyone, and we hope that you will act to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Prof. McGuire Gibson, President, The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq
Prof. Robert McC. Adams, Secretary Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution
Dr. Lamia Algailani, Hon. Research Fellow, University College London
Prof. Kenneth Ames, President, Society for American Archaeology
Prof. Harriet Crawford, Chair, British School of Archaeology in Iraq
Prof. Leon DeMeyer, Rector Emeritus, University of Ghent, Belgium
Prof. Patty Gerstenblith, President, Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation
Ms. Cindy Ho, President, SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone
Prof. Antonio Invernizzi, Scientific Director, Centro Recirche archeologiche é Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente é l’Asia.
Dr. Michael Müller-Karpe, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz, Germany
Dr. Hans J. Nissen, Professor emeritus of Near Eastern Archaeology, The Free University of Berlin, Germany
Dr. Roberto Parapetti, Director of the Iraqi-Italian Centre for the Restoration of Monuments
Prof. Ingolf Thuesen, Director, Carsten Niebuhr Institute, University of Copenhagen
Prof. Jane Waldbaum, President, Archaeological Institute of America

cc Samir Sumaidaie, Ambassador to the United States, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
cc. Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
cc Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations
cc Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General, UNESCO
cc Mounir Bouchenaki, Director General, ICCROM
cc Michael Petzet, President, ICOMOS
cc C. David Welch, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State
cc R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary, Political Affairs, Department of State
cc. Alberto M. Fernandez, Director, Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Dept. of State

As the well-informed-as-usual Martin Bailey reports: "The initiative follows reports in Baghdad that the government is considering the possibility of 'regionalising' the National Museum’s holding. In particular, there is some pressure to send antiquities excavated in the south to Basra or one of the main sites, such as Nasariyah. ... It is noticeable that curators from a number of major museums with Mesopotamian collections are not signatories. In practice, any immediate movement of archaeological finds would be extremely difficult. Staff at the National Museum have found it impossible to even complete an inventory of the contents of the storerooms since the looting of April 2003. The Baghdad museum remains closed and was recently physically sealed with strong concrete barriers." "Traditionally, the Antiquities board came under the Ministry of Culture, but it was recently switched to the Ministry of Tourism (although conventional tourism is at present non-existent, the ministry also covers religious pilgrimages). The new Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is headed by Liwa Sumaysin, and the letter is pointedly not addressed to him, but his counterpart at the Ministry of Culture, Dr Assad Al-Hashimi." In Alberge we learn: "... the destruction of the Ana Minaret on the Euphrates ... It was blown up by Islamic extremists apparently for fear that it would be used as an American observation post." This is a new explanation; see the September 28 post Destruction of ancient minaret in 'Ana. The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad interviewed Drs. Dominique Collon (retired [curator], British Museum) and Peter Akkermans (curator, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden). Do you know what the journalist calls this letter in Dutch? A "brandbrief," literally a "fire letter," meaning a letter (asking for assistance) regarding a matter of the highest urgency (cf. lettre incendiaire in French). Ramdharie: René Teijgeler, advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture for 7 months during 2004-2005, says that the looting of archaeological sites has gotten much worse than when he was over there. It now serves as a major source of income for the many armed groups. He doubts that the letter will resort much effect. The situation has become absurd: half the budget of the National Library goes to security for the staff; Iraqi heritage such as the blown-up mosque in Samarra has become embroiled in the fighting. I've included the examples of coverage from Europe to validate the comment made by Michelle Pilecki: "Of the world's major English-language news outlets, only The Times of London has taken note of a letter from 14 of the world's leading archaeologists to the Iraqi government ..." [my emphasis]. Indeed, no US news outlet that I know of paid any attention. Finally, are we to assume that there has been no answer as of yet to this letter?

• D. Alberge, "'Stop the looters destroying history,'" in The Times (UK), October 25, 2006
• M. Bailey, "International archaeologists' plea to Iraqi government," in The Art Newspaper (UK), online, October 25, 2006
• R. Bechler, "The Promise of Iraq. Maysoon al-Damluji returned to her homeland for a week in May 2003, and stayed for two and a half years. She tells Rosemary Bechler about why she stayed, and her work with Iraq’s women’s movement," in openDemocracy (UK), online, November 14, 2005
• M. Pilecki, "An Unsung Casualty of the Iraq War: The World's Cultural Heritage," in Eat The Press, online, October 25, 2006
• S. Ramdharie, "Iraks cultureel erfgoed wordt finaal geplunderd," in de Volkskrant (The Netherlands), October 26, 2006
• "Appeal to Iraqi Government Officials", in Archaeological Institute of America, online, [October 24, 2006]
• "Archeologen: Iraaks erfgoed bedreigd," in NRC Handelsblad (The Netherlands), October 26, 2006


IAA appeal for Dr. Çig

I quote from the IAA web site:

An Appeal for Dismissal of Charges Against Muazzez Ilmiye Çig

We, the undersigned members of the International Association for Assyriology and other colleagues with interest in the Ancient Near East are deeply alarmed by news reports that Muazzez Ilmiye Çig is to defend herself in court against charges of inciting religious hatred. She is accused of belittling Muslim practices when she disclosed information on the use of headdresses and scarves by Sumerian women millennia ago.

A veteran researcher who, throughout a long career, has contributed to the recovery of the ancient past, Dr. Çig is a model representative of Turkish contribution to scholarship. She has been tireless in propagating the knowledge acquired from ancient documents. The specific issue she raises about the significance of the use of scarves in antiquity cannot have reference to religiously sanctioned practices in our own days. It should be a subject for discussion among historians of past cultures rather than of clerics, lawyers, and judges.

We appeal to Turkish officials with influence on this matter to work for dismissal of all charges against Professor Muazzez Ilmiye Çig.

Jack M. Sasson, President
Wilfred H. van Soldt, Secretary

If you want to sign this appeal, please send an email to Wilfred van Soldt by Monday November 6. Give your name, any relevant title, and the institution to which you belong.


See my October 22 post Muazzez Çığ for more information.

November 2 post Dr. Çig quickly cleared in court.

October 30, 2006


Dr. George to lecture at BM

A View of Iraq and Archaeology
Thursday 16 November, 18.30
Stevenson Lecture Theatre, The British Museum, London, UK
Featuring guest speaker, Dr Donny George, formerly President of State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq and Director of the National Museum, Iraq.

This lecture will take place at the occasion of the exhibition The Past From Above. Through the Lens of Georg Gerster. A journey over the world's greatest archaeological sites which runs from November 16 through February 11.

See over 100 of the world's greatest historic locations in the heart of London. Captured over 40 years, the aerial photography of Swiss photographer Georg Gerster will take visitors on a tour of five continents.

Over 100 sites including the ancient cities of Babylon (in modern-day Iraq), Leptis Magna (in Libya) and Teotihuacan (in Mexico), will be explored in this exhibition. Objects from the Museum's permanent collection will feature alongside Gerster's photographs to provide an added insight into the people behind these extraordinary locations.

As well as focusing on the wonders of these archaeological sites, the exhibition also serves as a reminder of the fragility of many of these important locations and that positive action is required to preserve our common cultural heritage. This is your chance to view the world from a truly different perspective.


Blogger down again

Sigh... I'm just trying to see if I can still post via e-mail.
Probably not... unless you can read this!


Ceterum censeo Mesopotamiam antiquam muniendam esse.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing
evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but
you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence
you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence
merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence
multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid
of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction... The chain reaction of evil -
hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we
shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

October 29, 2006



I'd like to draw attention to three interesting IW&A-related books (heads up to Dr. Jack Sasson's Agade and Chuck Jones's Iraqcrisis mailing lists):

• E. Robson, L. Treadwell and Ch. Gosden (eds.), Who Owns Objects?: The Ethics and Politics of Collecting Cultural Artefacts, Oxbow Books, 2006, 156 pp.

Who owns cultural objects? and who has the right to own them? The contributors to this book have thought long and hard about the ethics and politics of collecting, from a variety of professional perspectives: archaeologist, museum curator, antiquities dealer, collector, legislator. The book is the outcome of a series of lectures and workshops held in Oxford in October-December 2004. It brings together some stimulating and provocative opinions, that would not usually be found together; archaeology and cultural heritage students rarely come into contact with antiquities dealers or collectors, for instance; museum curators rarely get to know the production processes and rationales behind the legislation and ethical codes they have to abide by. The aim is to provoke thought and debate on this topical and sensitive subject area.

Table of Contents
  • Introduction and Acknowledgements Smoke and Mirrors (Neil Brodie)
  • Overview and Assessment after Fifty Years of Collecting in a Changing World (George Ortiz)
  • Archaeologists, Collectors, and Museums (John Boardman)
  • Barriers or Bridges? Museums and Acquisitions in the Light of New Legal and Voluntary Codes (Paul Roberts)
  • Who Owns Objects? A View from the Coin Trade (Ursula Kampmann)
  • Who Owns Objects? A View from the Antiquities Trade (James Ede)
  • Cultural Property: a Contribution to the Debate (Nicholas Mayhew)
  • Recent UK Measures against the International Illicit Trade in Cultural Objects: Examining the New Regulatory Framework (David Gaimster)
  • Repatriation and its Discontents: the Glasgow Experience (Mark O'Neill)
  • Index.

• N. Brodie, M.M. Kersel, Ch. Luke and K. Walker Tubb, Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade, University Press Florida, 2006, 368 pp.

Archaeological artifacts have become a traded commodity in large part because the global reach of Western society allows easy access to the world's archaeological heritage. Acquired by the world's leading museums and private collectors, antiquities have been removed from archaeological sites, monuments, or cultural institutions and illegally traded. This collection of essays by world-recognized experts investigates the ways that com-modifying artifacts fuels the destruction of archaeological heritage and considers what can be done to protect it. Despite growing national and international legislation to protect cultural heritage, increasing numbers of archaeological sites--among them, war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq--are subject to pillage as the monetary value of artifacts rises. Offering comprehensive examinations of archaeological site looting, the antiquities trade, the ruin of cultural heritage resources, and the international efforts to combat their destruction, the authors argue that the antiquities market impacts cultural heritage around the world and is a burgeoning global crisis.

Neil Brodie is research director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. Morag M. Kersel, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge, is studying the legal trade of antiquities in the Middle East. Christina Luke is a research fellow in the department of archaeology at Boston University. Kathryn Walker Tubb is a lecturer in cultural heritage studies and conservation in the Institute of Archaeology, University College, London.

Table of Contents
  • Introduction by Neil Brodie
  • Protecting Cultural Heritage in Conflict by Lyndel Prott
  • Law, Politics and Archaeology: The U.S. Legal Response to the Protection of the World Cultural Heritage by Marina Papa Sokal
  • Recent United States Legal Developments in the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage by Patty Gerstenblith
  • Convicted Dealers: What it tells us by Peter Watson
  • St. Lawrence Island's Legal Market in Archaeological Goods by Julie Hollowell
  • A Model Anti-Looting Educational Program by Robert D. Hicks
  • The Plunder of the Ulua Valley, Honduras and a Market Analysis for its Antiquities by Christina Luke and John Henderson
  • Looting Lydia: The Destruction of an Archaeological Landscape in Western Turkey by Christopher H. Roosevelt and Christina Luke
  • From the Ground to the Buyer: How Artifacts Move Through Markets by Morag M. Kersel
  • The Plunder of Iraq's Archaeological Heritage 1991-2004 and the London Antiquities Trade by Neil Brodie
  • Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage: An Exceptional Case? by Juliette van Krieken-Pieters
  • Illicit Trafficking and Antiques Trade in India Recovery, Renewed Efforts to Save and Preserve India's Heritage by S. K. Pachauri
  • Museum Acquisitions: Responsibilities for the Illicit Traffic in Antiquities by Colin Renfrew
  • Structural Complexity and Social Conflict in Managing the Past at Copán, Honduras by Lena Mortensen
  • Supporting and Promoting the Idea of a Shared Cultural Patrimony by Paula Kay Lazrus
  • Artifacts and Emotion by Kathryn Walker Tubb
  • Conclusion: Transformed Values by Neil Brodie and Christina Luke

• N.T. Bernhardsson, Reclaiming a Plundered Past. Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq, University of Texas Press, 2006, 348 pp

The looting of the Iraqi National Museum in April of 2003 provoked a world outcry at the loss of artifacts regarded as part of humanity's shared cultural patrimony. But though the losses were unprecedented in scale, the museum looting was hardly the first time that Iraqi heirlooms had been plundered or put to political uses. From the beginning of archaeology as a modern science in the nineteenth century, Europeans excavated and appropriated Iraqi antiquities as relics of the birth of Western civilization. Since Iraq was created in 1921, the modern state has used archaeology to forge a connection to the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and/or Islamic empires and so build a sense of nationhood among Iraqis of differing religious traditions and ethnicities.

This book delves into the ways that archaeology and politics intertwined in Iraq during the British Mandate and the first years of nationhood before World War II. Magnus Bernhardsson begins with the work of British archaeologists who conducted extensive excavations in Iraq and sent their finds to the museums of Europe. He then traces how Iraqis' growing sense of nationhood led them to confront the British over antiquities law and the division of archaeological finds between Iraq and foreign excavators. He shows how Iraq's control over its archaeological patrimony was directly tied to the balance of political power and how it increased as power shifted to the Iraqi government. Finally he examines how Iraqi leaders, including Saddam Hussein, have used archaeology and history to legitimize the state and its political actions

Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Early Excavations in Mesopotamia
  • World War I and the British Occupation (1900-1921)
  • From Mesopotamia to Iraq: Politics during the Mandate (1921-1932)
  • Mandated Archaeology: The Creation of the Museum and the Vibrant Archaeological Scene (1921-1932)
  • Independent Nation--Independent Archaeology (1932-1941)
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Consulted
  • Index


Blogger has been unreliable...

Blogger, the blogging service I use for IW&A Blog, has been unavailable for the last several days. It looks like it may now be working again. Let's see if I can get this post published. Mind you, this is not the first time this week... I sure hope they'll have it fixed for good now.