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

This is the fifty-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.

  • Ch. Drew and T. Mabile, "Desert Graves in Northern Iraq Yield Evidence to Try Hussein," in The New York Times, June 7, 2005: "... what was found at Hatra shows how the Hussein leadership made a 'business of killing people' - the scrape marks from the blade of the bulldozer that shoved victims into the trench, the point-blank shots to the backs of even the babies' heads, the withered body of a 3- or 4-year-old boy, still clutching a red and white ball." "...  piecing together evidence that Mr. Hussein's government turned the campaign, code-named 'Anfal,' or 'the spoils,' into a killing spree. Iraqi officials have said their main goal was to root out Kurdish militias siding with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. But Human Rights Watch, the New York-based group, has estimated that up to 100,000 Kurds, mostly civilians, were killed, and 2,000 villages destroyed, including dozens bombed with chemical weapons. Michael K. Trimble, an archaeologist who headed the forensics team, said the first surprise was that the trench held only women and children - about 300 in all. He said two-thirds were children, and most of the skeletons rested inside several layers of handmade clothing, with bags of pots, pans and toys strewn in the dirt. He said it quickly became clear that most of the victims had been carrying - or wearing - all their belongings, as if they had been told they would be resettled. The bodies were stacked haphazardly in four or five layers. Nearly all had a single .22-caliber pistol shot behind one ear. Mr. Trimble said it looked as if the first people had been shot inside the trench, while the others had been killed at the lip and pushed in by a bulldozer." [for Mr. Trimble, see also Johnson November 23, 2004]; "A second trench held 150 men, each sprayed with fire from automatic weapons. Most had been blindfolded and tied together in a chain. Mr. Kehoe said this suggested that the women and children had been killed by Iraqi security officers carrying small-caliber arms, while the men had been killed by a military unit. ... Mr. Kehoe said the rolling field held up to a dozen other trenches, with at least 2,000 more bodies. Mr. Nivala said a second grave site, at Samawa in southern Iraq, yielded similar results; in April, investigators excavated one trench and found bodies of 114 Kurds, all but 5 women and children. Mr. Nivala said that field had 18 trenches, and 10 were filled, with at least 1,500 bodies."

Photo: "Pool photo by Thanassis Cambanis - Michael K. Trimble, an archaeologist, and Gregory W. Kehoe, an American lawyer working with the Iraqi tribunal investigating abuses by Saddam Hussein and others, at a mass grave near Hatra, in northern Iraq."
  • "Italiani in Iraq, una mostra-documento sull'opera svolta in campo culturale. Più di 350 scatti raccontano interventi, monumenti, vita a Baghdad e in terra irachena. Inaugurazione giovedì 9 giugno nella chiesa di S. Francesco," in Qui.Uniud. E-magazine dell'Università degli Studi di Udine (Italy), online, June 3, 2005: an exhibition in Udine of more than 360 photographs illustrates the work done by cultural-heritage experts of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iraq from December 2003 till June 2004: "Iraq: lavori in corso. Attività italiane a salvaguardia del patrimonio archeologico e artistico dell’Iraq"; it was organized by Dr. Giovanni Curatola, professor at the local university who worked with the CPA in Iraq; topics covered in the photos: survey of historic Islamic monuments of Baghdad, the new restoration laboratory of the National Museum in Baghdad, the archaeological-site survey activities by the Carabinieri in Dhi Qar province, the digitization of the illustrations in the inventory of the National Museum, satellite pictures of looted sites in function of the "Ruins Project" of the FPS [Facilities Protection Service, i.e., Iraqi archaeological guards] [see also Maglio March 14, 2004]

    Photo: [no caption; damaged minaret of mosque in Iraq]

  • "Internet Sales of Artifacts Take Root," in Iraq Museum International, online, June 2005: "... sellers can now turn to Internet service providers anywhere in the world to hide their identities while selling antiquities. For example, uses Abacus America, a California corporation, to conceal ownership identity. For $8.95 per year with Abacus, can maintain an anonymous domain and pay as little as $5.95 per month to run its online store, which offers Iraqi antiquities." [actually, according to the publicly-accessible WHOIS database, the registrant for this domain is a Daniel Hill with a P.O. Box in Florence, TX...]; "'A word about our antiquities,' they write, 'Our company has established relationships with Iraqi merchants whose families have been in the antiquities business for generations. During the period when Saddam Hussein was in power, no items of antiquity were allowed to be sold on the open market. During this period, these merchants continued to travel the deserts of Iraq buying and bargaining with the rural Bedouins, herders and farmers. Information about age and provenance for these items comes from the merchants themselves, in addition to research conducted by us.' Any provenance which includes an admission such as this would be simply unacceptable in the United States, per Executive Order 13550, recently renewed by President Bush." [but Mr. Hill, if for real, does seem to be a resident of the US!]; "However, the statement reflects the people-to-people appeal of online marketing. Buyers can feel that their purchases are putting food on the table for Iraqi families. It will be interesting to see if can maintain its public exposure beyond the domain name's expiration date in August." "The advantage of sites such as eBay is that sellers can bob in and out of the marketplace, exposing themselves for only a few days at a time. Also, their auctions can be 'private listed,' so that all bidders' User IDs are kept private. Sellers can further cloak themselves by creating multiple User IDs."

    Photo 1: "Babylonian Demon Bowl. The eBay seller, located in New Mexico, offers 'protection against this object being obtained illegally through illicit antiquities channels.' UPDATE (June 17, 2005): This demon bowl was won by John Piscopo, a well-known American collector of ancient swords. Piscopo informed us that he immediately contacted the FBI to investigate the eBay transaction and to arrange for the return of the demon bowl to Iraq."

    Photo 2: "Demon Bowl at (Google cache)"

    Photo 3: "This 'Buy It Now' cylinder seal was quickly sold from Malta for $499 by a seller who is under investigation by Interpol and has disappeared. See stories below by Maltese investigative reporter, Karl Schembri." [see Schembri June 5, 2005]

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).