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Do Iraqi-Jewish Treasures belong in Iraq or Elsewhere?

On Oct. 11, provided the government shutdown doesn’t interfere, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., will open an exhibit titled “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” On display will be some of the rarest of the materials that were salvaged from the flooded basement of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence service. All told, the collection contains an estimated 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents that once belonged to the Jews of Baghdad, who, until they began to flee for Israel in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, constituted one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, dating back more than 2,500 years. - In the chaos of the 2003 war, remnants of a once-thriving Jewish past were saved (or stolen?) by America. Where do they belong? [more inside]
posted by beisny on Oct 7, 2013 - 75 comments

Ancient cities of Iraq

Iraq is full of fabled ancient ruins, many in bad shape, but which still fire the imagination. Some highlights: Ur, birthplace of Abraham, still contained many beautiful artifacts when it was last excavated in the 1920s. Then there is vanished Cunaxa, near Baghdad's airport, where the Ten Thousand, a group of Greek mercenaries, fought their way back to Greece in a 1,000 mile, two-year-long retreat described by Xenophon in the Anabasis (and which served as the inspiration for cult films/games and bad science fiction alike). The ruins of the city of Nineveh were discovered in the 19th century just across the river from Mosul, containing art confirming elements of the Biblical account of the conquests of King Sennacherib. Most famously, the ruins of Babylon (not much to look at, the best bit being in Berlin) have seen much abuse, from Saddam's awful rebuilding of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar to reports of recent damage by coalition troops.
posted by blahblahblah on Jan 11, 2006 - 15 comments

The Smash of Civilizations

'...Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire. In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, World Monument Fund has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites.'
The 2003- Iraq War & Archaeology
The Smash of Civilizations
posted by y2karl on Jul 8, 2005 - 11 comments

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A dissappearing history. The National Museum of Iraq recorded a history of civilizations that began to flourish in the fertile plains of Mesopotamia more than 7,000 years ago. But once American troops entered Baghdad in sufficient force to topple Saddam Hussein's government this week, it took only 48 hours for the museum to be destroyed, with at least 170,000 artifacts carried away by looters.
posted by the fire you left me on Apr 12, 2003 - 58 comments

Cuneiform artifacts for cheap!

Cuneiform artifacts for cheap! "Iraq's economic collapse means the oldest writing in the world can be bought for a song on eBay -- and has scholars racing to digitize Sumerian artifacts before they become paperweights." I've always wanted an original Epic of Gilgamesh cuneiform tablet to decorate the mantel with.
posted by homunculus on May 12, 2002 - 4 comments

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