The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Forty-Three: First 1/2 of January 2005

This is the forty-third 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.

  • "Alliierte beschädigten Ruinen von Babylon," in Der Spiegel (Germany), online, January 15, 2005

    Photo: "AP - Polnisches Militärlager vor Babylon: 2600 Jahre alte Prozessionsroute aufgerissen" [Polish military camp in front of Babylon: 2600-year-old Processional Street damaged][Saddam Hussein's palace in the background]

  • "Babylon Military Base Threatens Iraq's Cultural Heritage," in Yahoo! News, online video, January 15, 2005: views of the site, soldiers at Saddam Hussein's palace, reconstructions, damage to the dragon relief bricks of the Ishtar Gate; at the end, soldiers in a plundered building, probably the above-mentioned palace

    Photo: [clip: reconstructions]

  • S. Leeman, "U.S.-Led Soldiers Said to Damage Babylon," in Yahoo! News, online, January 15, 2005: summarizes McCarthy and Kennedy January 15 and adds these reactions: "In an interview Saturday with Associated Press Television News, Iraq ... 's Minister of Culture Mufeed al-Jazairee said coalition troops in Babylon had used 'armored vehicles and helicopters that land and take off freely. In addition to that, the forces also set up other facilities and changes.' He added: 'I expect that the archaeological city of Babylon has sustained damage but I don't know exactly the size of such damage.'" "A Polish military spokesman in Iraq said troops were cooperating with Iraqi authorities in efforts to protect the site. 'I have asked our archaeologists to prepare a specific answer to the accusations, but I have to give them some time,' Lt. Col. Artur Domanski said." [see also Bassett January 15]

    Photo 1: "Sat Jan 15, 9:36 AM ET  -  The ancient city of Babylon as viewed from the Palace of ousted Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein ..., 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq ... in this July 16, 2003 file photo. U.S.-led troops using the ancient Iraqi city of Babylon as a base have caused widespread damage and contamination, the British Museum said Saturday Jan. 15, 2005. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez/File)"

    Photo 2: "US soldiers enter the ancient city of Babylon. A damning report by the British Museum revealed that US-led forces in Iraq ... have caused irreparable damage to the site of the ancient city of Babylon, contaminating the soil and destroying archaeological evidence. (AFP/File/Roslan Rahman)" [this is a replica]

  • R. McCarthy and M. Kennedy, "Babylon wrecked by war. US-led forces leave a trail of destruction and contamination in architectural site of world importance," in The Guardian (UK), January 15, 2005: "... according to a damning report released today by the British Museum. John Curtis, keeper of the museum's Ancient Near East department and an authority on Iraq's many archaeological sites, found 'substantial damage' on an investigative visit to Babylon last month. The ancient city has been used by US and Polish forces as a military depot for the past two years, despite objections from archaeologists." "... cracks and gaps where somebody had tried to gouge out the decorated bricks forming the famous dragons of the Ishtar Gate. He saw a 2,600-year-old brick pavement crushed by military vehicles, archaeological fragments scattered across the site, and trenches driven into ancient deposits. Vast amounts of sand and earth, visibly mixed with archaeological fragments, were gouged from the site to fill thousands of sandbags and metal mesh baskets. When this practice was stopped, large quantities of sand and earth were brought in from elsewhere, contaminating the site for future generations of archaeologists." "Last night the US military defended its operations at the site, but said all earth-moving projects had been stopped and it was considering moving troops away to protect the ruins. Babylon, a city renowned for its beauty and its splendour 1,000 years before Europe built anything comparable, was chosen as the site for a US military base in April 2003, just after the invasion of Iraq. ... In September 2003 the base was passed to a Polish-led force, which held it until today's formal handover of the site to the Iraqi culture ministry. In his report, Mr Curtis accepted that initially the US military presence helped protect the site from looters. But he described as 'regrettable' the decision to set up a base in such an important spot. He found that large areas of the site had been covered in gravel brought in from outside, compacted and sometimes chemically treated to provide helipads, car parks and accommodation and storage areas." "Archaeologists were horrified by the confirmation of reports which have been filtering out of Iraq for months. 'Outrage is hardly the word, this is just dreadful,' said Lord Redesdale, an archaeologist and head of the all-party parliamentary archaeological group. ... Tim Schadla Hall, reader in public archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, said: 'In this case we see an international conflict in which the US has failed to take into account the requirements of the Hague convention ... to protect major archaeological sites - just another convention it seems happy to ignore.' Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan, a US military spokes man in Baghdad, said engineering works at the camp were discussed with the head of the Babylon museum. 'An archaeologist examined every construction initiative for its impact on historical ruins.'" [great! then either this person/these persons was/were incompetent or his/her advice was ignored]; "He said plans were being considered to move some of the units in order 'to better preserve the Babylon ruins.' ... but there are very few visible original remains to the untrained eye.'" [apart from the fact that one can find pot sherds and other smaller archaeological artifacts the moment you stir the soil anywhere, if they're not at the surface in the first place; see also Leeman January 15][the British Museum report itself is online: see Curtis January 15; see also reaction of the Polish military, Scislowska January 16 and Yahoo! News January 16]

    Photo: "A map showing the damage caused to the ancient site of babylon by US army installations. Graphic: Finbarr Sheehy" [scan from]

  • Pam K., "National Guardsmen Reenlist at Historic Site," in Iraq War News (, online, January 7, 2005: "Nine West Virginia National Guardsmen from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 201st Field Artillery Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Brigade, III Corps, reenlist on New Year’s Day at the Ziggurat of Ur, a famous archaeological site in Iraq, built around 2100 BC to honor the moon god Nanna."

    Photo: "Photo by Maj. Gary Coffey."

  • J. White, "For U.S. Soldiers, A Frustrating and Fulfilling Mission. Hardship Breeds Perseverance in Iraq," in The Washington Post, January 2, 2005: "At the top of a spiral minaret built nearly 1,200 years ago, there is an almost overwhelming sense of calm. The wind blows in crisp and clean, the Tigris River lazily winds by in the distance, and Samarra spreads out to the south and east, its clusters of squat, square buildings and dirt roads forming an intricate panorama. Soldiers occupy this vantage point 24 hours a day, working in pairs for 12 hours at a time. An intersection below had become the scene of almost incessant attacks, and American commanders decided that placing snipers with .50-caliber rifles and powerful scopes in this circle of stone 10 feet in diameter, 180 feet above the ground, could deter the insurgents. Attacks have, in fact, largely ceased at the base of the minaret, ..." "Insurgents have taken to shooting at the brick tower, upset that U.S. soldiers are perched at the peak of a structure that has attracted Muslim pilgrims for centuries. A rocket-propelled grenade left a circular scar on the western face of the tower, small-arms fire ricochets off the walls, and the snipers' spent shells litter the top steps of the structure." [this is worrisome: the US military shouldn't be using this ancient monument; see Northedge January 25, 2005]

    Photo: "U.S. Army snipers took over the top of this nearly 1,200-year-old spiral minaret at a Samarra mosque after the streets below became the scene of frequent attacks by insurgents in the restless city. (Josh White -- The Washington Post)" [for a picture of the sniper position, see White December 23, 2004]

  • "Return of an Ancient Kingdom," in Environmental Update. A Quarterly Publication of Army Environmental News, 17, 1 (Winter 2005): "Coalition forces returned the site of ancient Babylon to the control of the Iraqi people in a ceremony scheduled for mid-January among the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's capital. The handoff began in December, when the Babylon Audit Commission evaluated the condition of the part of the archaeological site within Camp Alpha, former headquarters of Multinational Division (MND) Central-South. ... The Iraqi Facility Protection Service took full responsibility for protection of the site by the end of December, and MND Central-South moved its headquarters southeast to the modern city of Ad Diwaniyah. ... The division began moving out of Babylon as soon as possible, aware that activities on the archaeological site could influence layers beneath the surface, according to Lt. Col. Artur Domanski, MND spokesman. Three Polish archaeologists worked with local counterparts to preserve and maintain the ruins while the camp was operational. ... MND Central-South performed a site survey of the ruins, the monuments and the historic buildings built on ancient foundations within the military camp. ... The MND provided a new roof, electricity, benches and trash bins for the Babylon museum. It also provided archaeological and office equipment and helped improve archaeological sites throughout its area of responsibility: places such as Kish, Barnum [sic?], Borsippa and the burial site of Imam Omran Bin-Ali. Support for similar projects continues. The Archaeological Police received radios, bulletproof vests, metal detectors and other equipment from the MND. Donations included Beretta pistols from the U.S. Army's 328th Civil Affairs Brigade. MND also left in place the military fencing erected around the archaeological site at the establishment of Camp Babylon."

Illustration: [captions included with individual photos]

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).