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

This is the sixty-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.

  • "Babylon soll UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe werden," in Lausitzer Rundschau (Germany), November 14, 2005: at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its Baghdad branch the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut expresses its support for world heritage status for the archaeological site of Babylon

    Photo: "Foto: dpa.  Ruinen von König Nebukadnezar II. in Babylon." [ruins from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon]

  • Photo: "President George W. Bush and Laura Bush stand with 2005 National Humanities Medal recipient U.S. Marine Matthew Bogdanos, also an Assistant District Attorney in New York, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005 in the Oval Office at the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper" (The White House) [see also National Endowment for the Humanities November 8, 2005]
  • G. Gugliotta, "Looted Iraqi Relics Slow To Surface. Some Famous Pieces Unlikely to Reappear," in The Washington Post, November 8, 2005: "U.S. military sources say forces in Iraq have no systematic way of investigating the missing [National Museum] objects, and in the ongoing insurgency neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces can justify using scarce manpower to guard sites in the countryside, where widespread looting has continued unchecked since the March 2003 U.S. invasion. Law enforcement organizations worldwide are chasing the lost items, but their representatives said there is no systematic coordination, and they are relying on a shifting set of ad hoc partnerships to bring the thieves to account." "Yet paradoxically, although lower-end artifacts occasionally are placed for auction on the Internet, there has been no serious upsurge in public sales of Iraqi antiquities, either in the United States or Europe. Experts attribute the absence of a market to a combination of factors, none of them verifiable. Tough laws in Britain and the United States may have scared off known dealers, some say, or smugglers may simply have stashed their prizes in warehouses until they think it is safe. Others suggest that it takes a few years for stolen goods to migrate from the Middle East to shops in London, Tokyo or New York. Still others suspect the loot has gone to collectors in nearby states along the Persian Gulf, where Mesopotamian artifacts enjoy a stature they never attained in the West. Most sources agree, however, that the most famous pieces are too hot ever to be handled again in public. ... , the only people who will ever see them are the millionaires who buy them on the black market and lock them away." "... [only] a relatively small number of specialists in academia, the art world and law enforcement ... continue to track the fortunes of Iraq's stolen patrimony." [oh so true!]
    "Since Bogdanos departed Iraq, U.S. forces no longer have a systematic way to search for artifacts, and the effort has devolved upon an assortment of organizations, including, among many others, the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, Interpol, the FBI and cylinder-seal experts at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. 'There is no coordination,' Bogdanos said. 'It's based on personal relationships, and when it works, it's a surprise.'" [sad but true]; "But there is little evidence that anyone in the United States or Europe is taking advantage. In fact, whatever market there was for Iraqi antiquities appears to be drying up. 'The items that are coming to auction are much better provenanced <authenticated>,' said William Weber of the London-based Art Loss Register. ... Britain's draconian 2003 Iraq Sanctions Order has put the burden of proof on a dealer to show that an artifact is not stolen. The United States has lifted general trade sanctions on Iraq imposed after the Gulf War but left them in place for cultural property." "Stony Brook University archaeologist Elizabeth Stone, however, has been leading an effort to compare 'before and after' satellite photographs of well-known sites in southern Iraq, and has found holes 'denser than Swiss cheese.'" "DePaul University's Patty Gerstenblith, an expert on cultural property law, believes the sanctions may have forced thieves to make a cost-benefit calculation. 'It will be too dangerous for collectors to buy the well-known items,' she said, and not worth the risk for smugglers to sell the cheap stuff." [I'm not sure I understand what Gerstenblith actually thinks is happening to the artifacts then...; 11-10-05: Gugliotta attributes to Dr. Zainab Bahrani a reference to "the missing Sumerian black statue of Eannatum," which she wishes to point out he did erroneously, it is of Entemena instead]

Photo: "These looted artifacts were displayed in May 2003 at Iraq's National Museum, two months after they had disappeared.  Photo Credit:  By Murad Sezer -- Associated Press"
  • D. Marchioro, "L'Eccellenza del Restauro Italiano nel Mondo," in (Italy), online, November 4, 2005: picture  and documentation exhibition in the Gipsoteca of the Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome about the activities of the art and antiquities restorers of the state Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (ICR) throughout the world, also in Iraq (National Museum and Nineveh)

    Photo: [no caption; presumably the exhibition catalogue with a Neo-Assyrian sculpture in Iraq on the cover]
  • M. Alawsy, "Destruction of beloved Baghdad statue emblematic of violence's toll," in Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, online, November 2, 2005: "The bronze bust of Jaafar al Mansour, who founded Baghdad in the eighth century, stood in the center of a traffic circle in northwestern Baghdad and was used by nearly everyone as a reference point: 'near the statue,' 'a kilometer past the statue.' It was a symbol of the city, without politics or sectarianism. Until Oct. 19, when terrorists reduced it to rubble with a roadside bomb ..." "... especially troubling to residents, ... because it celebrated Baghdad's storied past, not its recent troubles. 'They are destroying Iraqi civilization,' said Ahmed Mustafa, 36, who owns a supermarket near the statue." "Why it was destroyed is a mystery. Several Iraqi newspapers compared the act to the Taliban's destruction of graven images, including Buddhas, in Afghanistan. Others note that any artwork, even one by famous Iraqi sculptor Khaled al Rahal, done during Saddam's reign is a target for Shiite extremists. Some suggest an Iranian hand in the attack. Mustafa blamed 'outsiders,' ..." "Nori Abbas, 20, who works near the statue, said he thinks it was destroyed because some believed it symbolized the old Iraq. He bemoaned what he saw as an assault on the heritage of an ancient city. 'Everywhere you go in town, statues are removed or destroyed by explosions,' ..." [see also The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. The Johns Hopkins University October 17, 2005]

    Photo: "A boy climbs over the bronze rubble of a bronze statue of Jaafar al Mansour, who built Baghdad and died in 775. Ali Jassim, KRT"

  • M. Bogdanos, "Tracking Down the Looted Treasures of Iraq," in Biblical Archaeology Review, November-December 2005: only the first 2 paragraphs are available online but it looks pretty much like a simplified version of Bogdanos July 2005; I wonder if the AIA was aware of the colonel's publication plans?

    Photo: "ON THE COVER: The Mask of Warka, a life-sized marble head dating to approximately 3100 B.C. and one of the most historically significant of thousands of objects discovered missing from the Iraq Museum, was recovered in a backyard in Baghdad by the U.S. Army’s 812th Military Police Company and returned to the museum in September 2003. The sculpture is thought to be one of the earliest naturalistic depictions of a human face. In 'Tracking the Looted Treasures of Iraq,' Matthew Bogdanos, the Marine colonel who until recently headed the U.S. military’s counter-terrorism task force, tells of his team’s efforts to recover the artifacts looted from the Iraq Museum in the spring of 2003.   Photo by Associated Press."
  • J. Cheng, "All Eyes on Iraq," in Archaeology, 58, 6 (November-December 2005): multiple-book review: M. Polk and A.M.H. Schuster (eds.), The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad; B. and K.P. Foster, Iraq Beyond the Headlines; M. Bernhardsson, Reclaiming a Plundered Past, to be published by University of Texas Press in [January] 2006: "... lively political history of Iraqi archaeology, ... both colonial ambition and national identities from the nineteenth century to Saddam's reign were explicitly tied to the region's pre-Islamic heritage. While the book duly notes the significance of archaeologists' finds, the archaeologists themselves are the subject. For instance, Gertrude Bell, founder of the National Museum and Iraq's first director of antiquities, created a common history for a number of autonomous groups cobbled together into one nation by foreign powers. This is an insightful and amusing volume." [I'd also recommend, e.g., M.T. Larsen, The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an Antique Land, 1840-1860, London, 1996, for more detail on the earliest period of archaeological exploration]; M. Garen and M.-H. Carleton, American Hostage

    Photo: [no caption; cover of Reclaiming a Plundered Past]

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).