The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Forty-Two: Second 1/2 of December 2004

This is the forty-second 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.

  • A. Henrikson, "Kansan to play role in dictator's trial. Archeologist will investigate mass graves," in Lawrence Journal-World (Kansas), December 31, 2004: "Randy Thies, an archeologist with the Kansas State Historical Society, has been selected as a civilian contractor to excavate and document mass graves of people killed by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime." "Heading out in late January or early February, ... will work as an evidence technician and archeologist in Iraq, where he will be stationed in Baghdad for about six months. As an evidence technician, Thies will determine the cause of death ..." "This is the second deployment of civilian contractors sent by the United States into Iraq to excavate mass graves and prepare forensic evidence of crimes against humanity." "'There's something special about working on human bodies,' Thies said. 'It's an honor. You're looking at human beings -- not just an artifact -- and these are people who have been executed.' Trained as a prehistoric archeologist, Thies applied for the Iraqi excavation project in late November." [see Archaeological Institute of America November 19, 2004]; "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers selected him with six to eight other people who will serve as evidence technicians and five to seven archeologists." "... Thies has investigated some of the state's most well-known burial sites, including the Salina Burial Pit. The Salina Burial Pit is a 700-year-old American Indian burial site that had 170 people."

    Photo: "Thad Allender/Journal-World Photo. Randy Thies has been selected to go to Iraq to work as an evidence technician and archeologist, as part of an effort to excavate and document mass graves of people killed by Saddam Hussein's former Iraqi regime. Thies is pictured Thursday with comparative bone and skull specimens at his place of work in the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka."

  • D. Tresilian, "Assault on heritage. With international attention focussing on the violence that continues to consume Iraq, the fate of the country's cultural heritage sites, collections and institutions slipped from the headlines in 2004. Nevertheless, their condition remains critical, writes David Tresilian from Paris," in Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), 723 (December 30, 2004): "... today the situation has in many respects improved, as Anna Paolini, in charge of UNESCO's efforts to protect Iraq's heritage, explained during an interview in Paris earlier this month. The challenges are as great as ever, Paolini says, relating chiefly to the lack of security in the country ..." "While it is not possible for UNESCO itself to work inside Iraq for security reasons, and it is impossible for outside experts to travel to the country to assist in conservation and protection efforts, much can still be achieved from outside by providing funds and assistance to Iraqi staff inside the country ... Paolini explains that UNESCO's actions in these areas have concentrated on efforts to support restoration work at the Baghdad Museum and at the Iraqi National Library and Archives, as well as to secure archaeological sites outside Baghdad that are in many cases still easy prey to looters in the absence of security in the country." "Yet, even before the 2003 conflict, Paolini says, Iraqi heritage sites were already suffering from neglect and were prey to looters, driven to desperation in a country suffering under a decade of UN-imposed sanctions and the prospect of the high prices looted objects could command abroad." "'While it is not possible to carry out major conservation projects in Iraq at present, it is possible to help build capacity, to provide training, and to prepare for the time when peace will be restored,' Paolini says, pointing to UNESCO's 'daily contact' with heritage officials in Iraq, and the 'thirst to contribute' on the part of Iraqi staff."

Photo: "a statue that had its head choppped [sic] off during the looting that followed the fall of Baghdad" [terracotta lion statue from Tell Harmal]
  • "Oudheid op Al Tallil," in Nederlands Detachement Irak (the Netherlands), online, [December 23, 2004]: at el-Tallil air base, the soldiers of Helidet [helicopter group] of SFIR5 are based right next door to history: the ancient city of Ur

    All photos: "Foto's: Arnoud Telkamp/SFIR 5"

    Photo 1: "Een steen met het oude spijkerschrift, de eerste geschreven taal." [a brick with ancient cuneiform, the first written language]

    Photo 2: "De uitgang van een van de Koningsgraven. Vroeger waren deze gevuld met gaven die het verblijf in het hiernamaals moesten veraangenamen. Naast de koningen zelf werden ook hun slaven en personeel begraven. Zij lieten zich vrijwillig vergiftiggen na het overlijden van hun vorst." [the exit of one of the Royal Tombs. these were once filled with gifts to make the stay in the afterlife more pleasant. besides the kings, their slaves and staff were buried there too. they let themselves be poisoned voluntarily after the death of their ruler]

  • R. McCarthy, "Iraq's library struggles to rise from the ashes. Remains of national history are slowly pieced together," in The Guardian (UK), December 21, 2004: "... The House of Books and Documents. This had been one of Iraq's greatest treasures: a national library that held ancient works of Arab literature, a vast archive of Ottoman-era grandeur, the papers of the British-sponsored monarchy and latterly the obsessively recorded and often chilling evidence of the past 30 years of Ba'ath party rule. The daylight burning of the library, which the invading US military did not protect, was one of the first costly failures in the post-war chaos of occupation last year. Now it is slowly being restored. But in a country where recent history remains bitterly disputed, resurrecting the library and national archive has turned into a remarkably sensitive and political operation." "A Kurdish historian who lived in exile for many years and studied at the London School of Economics, [National Library & Archive director Saad] Eskander believes the fires that devastated the library last year were carefully targeted. Two in mid-April destroyed all the records of the republican era from 1958 until the present, including most of the Ba'ath regime's documents. He estimates the library lost about 60% of its archive, including most of its rare books." "Like many government officials in the new Iraq, Mr Eskander has been threatened since he started work in December last year, after the former director was sacked."

Photo: "An assistant imam checks books taken to a mosque for safekeeping after reportedly being looted from Iraq's national library after the fall of Baghdad. Photograph: Saurabh Das/AP"

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).