Notes from Iraq session at AIA meeting in Boston, 1/8/05

January 10, 2005 John M. Russell IW&A Documents, 3

Concerning the numbers of objects lost from the Museum and recovered, as reported at the AIA meeting:

- 15,000 objects ESTIMATED lost, of which 10,000 are now documented by the Museum's staff
- 3323 pieces with IM numbers have been returned to the Museum
- 1450 pieces from other sites returned to the Museum

Of recoveries in other countries, some but not all of which are from the Museum:

- 38 Iraqi objects recovered in Kuwait
- 18 in Saudi Arabia
- 1250 in Jordan, including a Nimrud ivory bed panel on the "most wanted" list
- 360 in Syria
- 600+ in US
- nothing is known about recoveries in Turkey or Iran

The 1750 civil guards hired recently to protect archaeological sites are
indeed Iraqi FPS (Facilities Protection Service) guards. They have
already made a big difference in the looting situation, but still need
vehicles, radios, and weapons.

They have a big job. It was reported that there were over 7000
documented archaeological sites in Iraq in 1976 when the Atlas of
Archaeological Sites in Iraq was published, and 4500 more have been
discovered since then.

In consultation with UNESCO, John Russell presented 2 PowerPoint slides
about UNESCO's current heritage-related work in Iraq:

The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) has allocated
$5.5 million for a 3-year cultural program for Iraq. Antiquities-
related projects for the first year, 2004, include:

* Provision of 45 vehicles and equipment to strengthen
security at sites (currently being delivered)
* Training course in GIS in Amman for State Board of
Antiquities and Heritage staff
* Training in Object ID inventory and preparation of World
Heritage nomination files
* Translation of important publications for museums
* Manuals in English and Arabic on museum basics and on
security at museums and sites

An additional $3-4 million has been donated directly to UNESCO
by member nations for specific projects. Antiquities-related
projects include:

* Provision of a computerized collection management
system for the Iraq Museum (Swiss Trust Fund).
* Renovation and equipping of five rooms for the conservation
lab at the Iraq Museum (UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust).
* Training of border patrols and site guards to stop the illicit traffic
in cultural artefacts (UNESCO/Italian Funds-in-Trust).
* Installation of security lighting and fences for the palace of
Sennacherib at Nineveh (Swiss private campaign of funds).
* Rehabilitation of the old storeroom at the Iraq Museum
(UNESCO/Flanders Funds-in-Trust).

For a full list of UNESCO culture projects in Iraq, together with
descriptions and progress updates, visit:

John M. Russell

Critical Studies Department
Massachusetts College of Art
Boston, MA

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