The Iraq War & Archaeology
Reviewed Articles Archive Seventy: Second 1/2 of February 2006

This is the seventieth 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.

  • R. Cohen, "Exiled in a Museum, the Dream of Peace," in The New York Times, February 25, 2006: "It was in the now partly reconstituted rooms of the closed museum that I found Donny George a few weeks ago. A small man with glittering brown eyes, George, an archaeologist, is director general of the museum." [he's actually the president of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage now]; "... George's hobby is playing drums in a rock band. Under Saddam Hussein he was a member of a band called 99 Percent - 'of perfection,' he explained - that specialized in Deep Purple songs. ... Now, as violence rages around him, George waits. He is an exile within his own museum, condemned to contemplate his own and his country's fate in rooms emptied of visitors. ... the closed museum is ... an isolated echo chamber of turmoil and memory. ... 'I have in my imagination the reopening ceremony, with all the people who have helped us,' he says. 'There will be 1,000 people in the gardens, musicians playing traditional Iraqi music, a huge feast.' He points to a vast courtyard where date palms and other trees are being planted. In his mind's eye he has already placed the banquet-laden tables, the musicians, the dancers, the guests. All that is missing is peace. As George observes, 'When a museum is reopened, it means that peace has come.' The Interior Ministry has been urging him to open the museum, saying it will provide him with more than 1,000 guards if necessary. 'But then it's no longer a museum,' George says, 'it's a barracks.' An Iraqi Christian, George is deeply troubled by the sectarian violence that has gathered in intensity since the American invasion. Keep religion out of politics, he urges; render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, unto God what is God's. I know that the killing and mayhem that have followed the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a revered Shiite shrine, will have caused him great despondency. Beauty, he holds, is worth more than politics, and violence should be a stranger to every God. George is a patient man because he is steeped in his country's history. 'There are stages such as these and then there are stages of calm,' he says with his gentle smile. 'Each can last 100 years, but it passes. A famous Samarian [sic] writer described the scene here in 2000 B.C., saying that people are looting and killing and nobody knows who the king is. So you see, nothing is new.'" [this article is similar to Cohen April 2, 2006]

    Photo: "Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times  -  Relief stone work depicting ancient gods and winged creatures are on display in the Assyrian hall of Baghdad's National Museum in 2005." [only small partial photo of said relief available on free intro to pay-only article; actually, this can't be right (2-28-06): this is indeed not a god or mythological creature in the thumbnail picture, as Sam Paley was so attentive to point out to me; I don't have access to the full article, only to a copy of the text without photos so I don't know whether I have the wrong caption or the caption is in error; anyway, this is from a relief from the throne room of Fort Shalmaneser in Nimrud depicting Shalmaneser III (9th cent. BC) shaking hands with Babylonian king Marduk-zakir-shumi I and courtiers (with thanks to Dr. Paley)]
  • S. Knight, "Al-Askariya shrine: 'Not just a major cathedral,'" in The Times (UK), February 22, 2006: "The attack on the al-Askariya shrine marks the first time that Iraqi sectarian violence has targeted one of the country's central religious symbols. The Shia Muslim shrine has existed in the middle of the ancient city of Samarra, one of the largest archaeological sites in the world, since 944, when it was built to house the tombs of two ninth century imams, direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Ali al-Hadi, the tenth imam who died in 868 and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874, were buried at the end of the turbulent period during which Samarra was built as the new capital of the Abbasid empire, ... the 12th and final imam, the so-called 'Hidden Imam' who Shias believe went into hiding in 878 under the al-Askariya shrine to prepare for his eventual return among men. According to Shia tradition, the Mahdi will reappear one day to punish the sinful and 'separate truth from falsehood'. For many years, a saddled horse and soldiers would be brought to the shrine in Samarra every day to be ready for his return, ... 'It's one of the foremost important shrines in Iraq,' said Alastair Northedge, a Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Sorbonne in Paris who has just completed an archaeological survey of Samarra." ["just"? that would be from before the start of the Iraq War in 2003 certainly?]; "The latest remodelling of the shrine took place in the late 19th century, with the dome that was destroyed today added in 1905. Covered in 72,000 gold pieces and surrounded by walls of light blue tiles, ..." "... said Professor Northedge[:] 'I'm absolutely certain that this is not the local people from Samarra, they would not have blown it up.'"

Photo: "The Askariya shrine, one of the holiest Shia sites in Iraq, was severely damaged by a large explosion in Samarra, 60 miles (95km) north of Baghdad (AP/Hameed Rasheed)"
  • "Stolen Iraqi artifacts run to ground in Spain," in Middle East Times (Cyprus), online, February 22, 2006: "The international police organization, which had logged the treasures as missing, confirmed in January that they had been stolen and secreted out of southern Iraq."

    Photo: "Impounded: This combination undated handout photo shows four ancient terracotta tablets [actually 3 tablets and 1 foundation nail] that were seized in an auction house by Spanish police. Police had recovered 21 tablets and a necklace that they believe had been taken from southern Iraq and had been sent for auction in Madrid.  (Reuters)"

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).