The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Thirty-Seven: First 1/2 of October 2004

This is the thirty-seventh 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.

  • S. Gonzalez, "Yale curator traded lab for work in Iraqi war zone," in Yale Bulletin & Calendar (Connecticut), 33, 7 (October 15, 2004): "... Catherine Sease, senior conservator at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, ... was one of a group of four specialists asked by the U.S. Department of State to travel to Baghdad in October 2003 to assess the condition of the National Museum following the looting rampage in April." "Sease spent eight days in Baghdad. ... [they] were given protective equipment -- including gas masks, helmets and bulletproof vests -- as a safety precaution as they traveled from the Palace to the museum escorted by military personnel or bodyguards. The team spent four or five hours a day in the museum, where they assessed what reconstructive and other measures would need to be taken to make the museum operational again. 'Everyone on the team had his or her own area of specialty,' says Sease. 'One person was a museum facilities manager from the National Gallery in Washington; he examined the heating, ventilation and water systems, and other facilities issues in the Iraqi museum. Another person operated his own information technology business and was responsible for looking at the computer system -- or lack thereof. Another member of the team was a museum security specialist. My role was to look at the collections that were still there and assess the damage done by looters.'" "... [she] had three times before worked at excavation sites in Iraq. Her earliest trip was in the 1970s, and she later went back with her husband, archaeologist David Reese, shortly before the Gulf War." "Nevertheless, the conservator also says that she keeps her emotions about the loss of Iraqi objects in perspective. 'In times of war, human life has to be more valuable, and your top priority,' she says. 'What happened in Iraq has happened many times elsewhere: ..." "Sease will talk about her trip to Iraq's National Museum during the 'Iraq Beyond the Headlines' panel discussion at 8 p.m. on Oct. 19."

    Photo 1: "Helmets and bulletproof vests were required gear for Peabody curator Catherine Sease (center) and the rest of the State Department team that traveled to Iraq."

    Photo 2: "Pictured is the poster for the panel 'Iraq Behind the Headlines III,' to be held on Oct. 19."

  • "Secrets of Iraqi mass grave revealed," in The Guardian (UK), October 13, 2004: "A US-led team of investigators working in northern Iraq has discovered a mass grave containing hundreds of bodies, including that of an infant with a gunshot to the back of the head. The skeletons of foetuses, children clutching toys and men apparently killed by machine-gun fire were amongst the dead found in nine trenches in a dry riverbed in the village of Hatra. ... 'It is my personal opinion that this is a killing field,' said Greg Kehoe, an American working with the Iraqi Special Tribunal, an independent body looking for evidence of genocide and other atrocities linked to Saddam, ..." ["independent" is an overstatement, I'd say, as it was appointed by the CPA and the Govening Council]

    Photo: "Greg Kehoe, a US lawyer working with the Iraqi Special Tribunal, views a mass grave site being excavated in the northern Iraqi town of Hatra. Photograph: Thannasis Cambanis/AP"

  • B. Hammargren, "Iraks kulturarv plundras och förstörs," in Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), October 12, 2004: my Swedish is very poor but the title means something like "Iraq's cultural heritage is plundered and in tatters"; Olof Pedersén, Assyriology professor at Uppsala University, and Pat Marino, curator at the Medelhavsmuseet (Museum of the Mediterranean, Stockholm), quoted along with the usual specialists as is my site: "... den i arkeologkretsar ansedda sajten The 2003- Iraq War & Archaeology" which I think means "the in archaeological circles respected site" (thank you very much!)

    Photo 1: "Hålet efter en granat syns under en relief på fasaden på Bagdads arkeologiska museum. Foto: Jamal Saidi/Reuters" [very tentative translation: "hole from a grenade visible under a relief in the facade of the archaeological museum of Baghdad"; actually from entrance gate]

    Photo 2: "Bagdads nationalmuseum drabbades av plundringar när Saddam Husseins regim föll 2003" [attempted translation: "Baghdad's archaeological museum struck by looters after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003"; I don't think I've seen this picture before;  this seems to show serious damage; is this possibly a backside of a gate?]

  • J. Farchakh, "Restoring Baghdad's museum to its former glory. An arduous task that relies on conscience and international help," in The Daily Star (Lebanon), October 8, 2004: "In fact, if it weren't for minor, hardly visible repair work, a visitor could not tell that over a year has gone by since the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad was looted. ... 'I walked on broken pottery in the storage rooms. The sound of it crushing under my feet still haunts me at night. These were objects that I had put aside to protect from the bombs. They were not spared,' says Jinane, an archaeologist working on the inventory. Today, there is a two-fold challenge in bringing back the museum to its former glory. Recovering the stolen artifacts is as important as motivating and re-educating the staff. ... This has proven to be an ambitious mission. Iraqi archaeologists and curators haven't been in touch with the rest of the world for the last 20 years. They are not aware of any advances made in the field and the number of those who know how to use a computer is very limited." "The French government sent 15 curators and museum employees on a five-month journey to different universities and museums in France. German institutes and universities are offering scholarships for some Iraqi archaeologists, and the Japanese government has taken care of training architects working on the restoration of archaeological monuments." "'The most recent inventory has shown that 15,000 objects were stolen from the storage rooms of the museum. ... We are working on this issue in Iraq and abroad in collaboration with foreign customs departments. So far, 2,000 objects have been confiscated in Jordan and the United States. Here in Baghdad, we have recovered 3,000 artifacts, ... says Georges." [personal names are rendered in French style throughout this article hence Dr. Donny "Georges" instead of "George" and "Jinane" instead of "Jinan" (Lebanon is a former French colony]; "On the other hand, the recovery of some of these objects shows how devoted some Iraqis are to their heritage. Take Suleiman Aswad, an elder jeweler and owner of a small shop in Baghdad's Kazimieh district. Shocked by the looting of the museum, he decided to help recover some of the stolen objects. 'A young girl came to my shop offering to sell me cylinder seals. I bought them without questioning her. I paid this gang over $1300 to return to the museum 92 cylinder seals.' Aswad had tears in his eyes as he was telling his story. He went on at length explaining how difficult it was for him to hear about what had happened. 'The looting of our own heritage by our compatriots is like a son stealing from his father ... We can rebuild Iraq and never forget our dead but we can never bring back our history once it's taken from us.'" "An undercover agent, Riad Hussein, was assigned this mission for a few months. His mission turned out to be very successful. He returned four artifacts to the museum from a list of 32 most- wanted objects. 'I have unearthed the Warka Lady in a farm in a suburb of Baghdad and discovered the Bassitki statue from under animal excrements. I have risked my life for the recovery of the statue of Ea and the Braiser of Nin[e]veh - and in return, all I received was a letter of gratitude. My superiors were decorated with silver medals. Good for them, it wasn't good enough for me,' he sneered. Hussein was hoping to receive a financial reward for each object he brought back." [a normal expectation: under the old regime he might indeed have been rewarded, just like archaeologists then sometimes received financial or other rewards for finding exceptional artifacts; this is not totally unheard of in the West either, e.g., in the UK people who stumble across an important archaeological artifact in a field and turn it in to the authorities receive a reward proportional to its value]; "In the long run, Hussein's disappointment may be more harmful to Iraq's archaeology than it appears. By now, he knows the looted artifacts and what they are worth. He knows the market and the dealers."

Photo: [no caption; close-up of one of the Neo-Assyrian lamassus in the National Museum in Baghdad]
  • J. van Albada, "Iraqi National Library and Archives Rejoins ICA," in International Council on Archives (France), online, October 7, 2004: "During his visit to Paris for the sixth meeting of UNESCO’s Intersectoral Task Force on Iraq, the new Director General of the National Library and Archives of Iraq, Dr Saad Eskander, met with Joan van Albada, ICA Secretary General ... Saad Eskander was accompanied by two Dutch officers responsible for cultural heritage protection, ..."

    Photo: "Photo of Iraqi National Library and Archives Visit to ICA, Paris, 7 October. Left to right: Joris D. Kila, Christine Martinez, Jean-Marie Arnoult, Joan van Albada, Saad Eskander, Perrine Canavaggio, Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi, René Teygeler"

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).