The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Fifteen: First 1/2 of November 2003

This is the fifteenth 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.

  • Photo: "Giovedì 13 Novembre 2003, 21:19 - This a recent photo of Carabinieri officer Enzo Fregosi, one of the 18 Italians killed in a suicide truck bombing attack at the headquarters for Italian forces in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq, early Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2003.   (AP Photo)" [Yahoo Italia Notizie]; may he rest in peace

  • J.M. Russell, "The MPs Do It Again: Two More Antiquities from the Top 30 Are Back in the Iraq Museum," in Archaeological Institute of America, online, November [12], 2003: "The copper Bassetki statue is so called because it was discovered accidentally in the 1960s near the town of Bassetki, during the construction of a road between Dohuk and Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Only the lower half of the statue survives, from the waist down, depicting a man seated on the ground.  The body above the waist is lost, but it originally held a standard or doorpost, the bottom of which is preserved.  Similar figures are represented in other media sporting hair arranged in six large curls.  This is a type of heroic mythological figure associated with guarding doorways.  The piece dates to the Old Akkadian period, around 2300 BC, ... once stood in the door of a palace of the great Akkadian king Naram-Sin in southern Iraq.  How it found its way to Bassetki, hundreds of kilometers away, is one of the many riddles of antiquity, now forever a mystery since the mud brick building in which it stood was destroyed by the construction work.  It is cast in pure copper, a difficult procedure that requires a higher temperature than bronze, ..."

"The brazier was discovered by an Italian archaeological mission in the mid-1990s at the Neo-Assyrian capital city of Nimrud, ... The preserved part is about 80 cm wide and was one side of what was originally a square box with four spoked wheels.  It is the only known example of the sort of mobile firebox that the Assyrian kings used ... excavators reported grooved 'tramlines' of limestone slabs running down the center of Assyrian throne rooms.  ...  The brazier could be wheeled along the tramline ... decorated with the crenellated towers of a city wall, similar to the pictures of torched enemy cities in the battle scenes on the stone murals that lined the palace walls.  With a cheery fire licking above its crenellated sides, this happy image of a foe’s fortress in flames would have warmed the king’s heart, as well as his feet."

"[Captain Vance] Kuhner attributes their success to good intelligence and perseverance, coupled with the thieves’ greed.  He says that thieves holding objects in the top 30 are desperate to unload them because they’re way too hot to handle.   The thieves are optimistically on the lookout for that daring collector who wants to buy them now for a lot of cash, and they get careless." "A group of 820 small objects, including jewelry, figurines, plaques, and hundreds of cylinder seals, most of them with Iraq Museum numbers, was recovered through the efforts of the Iraqi Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences." [where were they recovered, in Italy or in Iraq, and how? 10-21-04: I have it from reliable sources that they were recovered inside Iraq; see also Geronico March 2, 2004]; "Also on display [was] ... a group of Babylonian stone vessels and terracotta sculptures found by a farmer near Babylon." [some more information about this group would be nice]

All photos: copyright John M. Russell; thanks, John, for again providing me with high-resolution copies to post here (you get the full effect only when you right-click or open in a new window)

Photo 1: "The Bassetki statue being brought into the museum fresh from the cesspool."

Photo 2: "The Bassetki statue after cleaning."

Photo 3: "The Nimrud brazier being brought into the museum by Captain Kuhner and MPs."

Photo 4: "The Nimrud brazier on display."

Photo 5: "Display case with 820 objects recovered by the Iraqi Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences."

Photo 6: "Display case with objects found by a farmer near Babylon."

Photo 7: "Speakers at the press conference, from left: Ambassador Bondioli Osio, Captian Vance Kuhner, Colonel Safa Salih, Minister Mufeed Al-Jazairi, and Dr. Donny George."

Photo 8: "Minister Mufeed Al-Jazairi (left) and Dr. Donny George discuss the Bassetki statue."

  • Photo 1: "Tue Nov 11 [, 2003],11:49 AM ET - The Bassetki Statue, (around 2300 B.C.), the 27th and most sought-after item, is on display in Baghdad's Iraqi National Museum, Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003. Several hundred ancient artifacts stolen from the Iraqi Museum during the wave of looting that hit Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein ( news -web sites )'s regime have been returned to the museum, officials said Tuesday. Among the most important relics is this 4,300-year-old copper Bassetki Statue that shows the lower part of a man with cuneiform inscriptions commemorating the victories achieved by an Akkadian king. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)" [Yahoo! News]
Photo 2: "Tue Nov 11 [, 2003] ,11:51 AM ET - A wood and bronze brazier dating back to 858-824 BC is on display in Baghdad's Iraqi National Museum, Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003. Several hundred ancient artifacts stolen from the Iraqi Museum during the wave of looting that hit Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein ( news -web sites )'s regime have been returned to the museum, officials said Tuesday. Among the most important relics is this relic, dating to the reign of Assyrian King Shalmaneser III in the 9th century B.C., which is a representation of a wood and bronze brazier with which Assyrian kings warmed themselves. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)" [Yahoo! News]

Photo 3: "Tue Nov 11 [, 2003] , 9:59 AM ET - U.S. Army soldiers secure the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad, Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003. Several hundred ancient artifacts stolen from the Iraqi Museum during the wave of looting that hit Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein ( news -web sites )'s regime have been returned to the museum, officials said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)" [Yahoo News]

  • D. Gordon, "Stolen Goods," in The Connection (NPR), with online audio, November 7, 2003: journalist returns to Baghdad after 6 months for another live broadcast; interview with Dir. Kamal Jawad on the plight of the National Library: books/documents 50% stolen, 50% burnt; they can't do anything else but scour the bookshops and buy back as many of the stolen books as possible;

interview with Dr. Donny George (Director-General of Museums Iraq): Basetki statue recovered and in excellent condition; 14,000 pieces stolen, recovered were 3,000 in Iraq, 1,000 in US, almost 1,000 in Jordan, 500 in France and elsewhere in Europe [this seems to leave a balance of 8,500 missing which is also what Gordon was suggesting but see Yacoub November 11; unclear also whether the whole collection has been checked against the inventory yet]; Jordanian customs agent told him that till that day, April 27, there had been already 12 cases of journalists smuggling Iraqi antiquities; the 2 people in the Central Bank who held the keys for the vault in which the Treasure of Nimrud and other gold artifacts were stored hid out in the countryside so they couldn't be forced to open the vault by Saddam Hussein's sons or the like

interview with Dr. John Russell (Sr. Advisor Iraqi Ministry of Culture): a US Library of Congress/US State Department team has studied the situation at the National Library and is about to publish a report; the book collection fared better than expected, the documents archive was were most of the losses from the fire occurred; an existing spectacular building will house the new National Library, the old building is beyond repair; the National Museum was not protected initially when the Coalition enetered Baghdad in April due to lack of manpower and specific orders to give priority to the Museum; Oil Ministry was protected in contrast but this was by accident, not a plan to only protect this one building; except for Ur and Babylon (within Coalition military camps) archaeological sites are still not protected because the Coalition military doesn't have the manpower; CPA is now trying to train Iraqi guards so that they could provide a first line of protection till the "cavalry," i.e., the Coalition military, arrives in case looters show up; financing is available from US State Department and UNESCO; difficulty is more how to get experts to come to Iraq

Photo 1: "Broken windows on the second floor of the National  Library"

Photo 2: "Donny George in our Baghdad Studio"

Photo 3: "John Russell in our Baghdad Studio"

Photo 4: "The second floor of the National Library"

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).