The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Twenty: Second 1/2 of January 2004

This is the twentieth 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.

  • Musician's Hope for Ancient Harp. City Musician Andy Lowings Was Horrified When He Heard That a 4,750 Year Old Harp Had Been Destroyed by Looters in the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad," in The Peterborough Evening Telegraph (UK), January 29, 2004: "... he decided to rebuild a working copy of the instrument – which will cost £25,000. Now, Mr Lowings has just received two large blocks of Iraqi wood, which were collected by airmen and flown back to RAF Wittering, to be used in making the base of the new harp." [sic; actually a lyre] "He said: 'I think the harp is a definite symbol of the new Iraq, and hope that as it is rebuilt, so Iraq will be as well.'" "... the blocks of cedar wood were presented to Mr Lowings, who has sent them to Austria for an expert instrument maker to start carving the harp. Experts in other countries will be asked to use their skills in the restoration project, too."

Photo 1: "Carving on the original Bull Harp of Ur" [this is in error: the bull's head is made of gold sheets, not carved out of wood; also, they won't rebuild the Harp from Ur nor the Lyre of Queen Shub-Ad (shown here) but the Queen's Lyre, see Lowings October 20]

Photo 2: "5131 Squadron members Jim Gardner and Titch Jones hand the wood to Nobert Maier, Andy Lowings and Ismail Jalili"

"... the principle, now codified in the codes of ethics of most Western archaeological organisations, that our primary ethical responsibility is the advocacy for and stewardship of the archaeological record ... however, the notion of the ‘archaeological record’ is highly problematic. In the principle of stewardship, an entity that is produced by archaeologists out of the material fragments of the past, (‘the record’), acquires metaphysical properties: it is perceived as the finite entity that people of the past have entrusted to us for protection and stewardship ... however, the ‘record’ is produced by disciplinary practices and identity processes and discourses, using the remnants of the past. We thus declare ourselves stewards and advocates of something that we ourselves have been instrumental in producing, and of which we are often the primary users." [I'd rather use the term "archaeological heritage" which points at the need for it to be protected first and only excavated and recorded—indeed, excavating is always also destroying—when pertinent questions are to be answered and when it is possible to do it right (methodologically, logistically, timewise, etc.) or when we have no other choice (salvage digs)]; "... the frequent evocations of Mesopotamia. More importantly, most archaeologists promoted the notion that the Iraqi past is ‘our’ past, engaging thus in a rhetorical strategy of appropriation. But they meant a selective and constructed past, the past that in the Western imagination has occupied a central position because of its biblical connotations, or its links to urbanism and early writing. How about the more recent past, the Muslim and Arabic [sic] heritage? Is that ‘ours’ too, or just ‘theirs’? Were we thus protecting only ‘our’ past?" [Hamilakis makes a valid point here; however, it is also true that the general-public and even scholars tend to think of archaeology as a discipline as dealing primarily with the Romans and before (in Europe), or with pre-colonial times (in North America); we all share a fascination with "firsts" and "ancientness" but, admittedly, the Arab and Muslim worlds, esp. in their thriving Ottoman, Moorish, etc. incarnations had their fair share of "firsts" too which are largely unknown to the Western public and even most educated folk which is unforgivable]; "... we should be aware that the ethic of conservation is a context-specific principle, and that some social groups may choose to place value not on the conservation of the material past but on its reworking,
recycling or even destruction. Awareness of social asymmetries and power relationships (such as in the case of the Western antiquities market) should underpin these contextual judgments." [this reminds me of the heated debate about the (non-)universality of human rights...]; "Archaeological ethics must be politically aware, sensitive to the pain of the other, or they are nothing. To quote Francis Deblauw[e], the independent scholar who set up the most informative website on the Iraqi looting [well, thank you very much!], ‘no epic Sumerian cuneiform tablet, majestic Neo-Assyrian lamassu sculpture, or any other Mesopotamian artifact is worth a human life, be it Iraqi, American, British or other’ ... [I still stand by that; I would also like to quote another part of my introduction (unchanged since the beginning): "War in this Cradle of Civilization, beyond the horrendous, almost invisible casualties—always somebody's husband, always somebody's son—and downplayed 'collateral damage'—always somebody's wife, always somebody's child—, inevitably takes its toll on the archaeological heritage as well."]; "... a Mesopotamian specialist made the headlines by suggesting that the occupying armies should kill antiquities looters ..., providing thus an extreme example and a further confirmation of the phenomenon that I debate here." [i.e., Dr. Elizabeth Stone; Hamilakis means not caring for people, only for artifacts; even though I do take issue with this lethal approach too, I must point out that, during the 1990s, Dr. Stone went to Iraq many times and took medicines and other humanitarian supplies with her, something that wasn't without risk]

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).