Iraqi artifacts
April 22, 2004 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Archaeologists review the loss of valuable artifacts a year after the looting of the Iraqi National Museum. [Via dangerousmeta.]
posted by homunculus (6 comments total)
Those bleeding-heart archaeologists can't fool me. There were only 37 items missing. I remember it vividly from Rush's broadcast.
posted by soyjoy at 2:02 PM on April 22, 2004

Only 15,000 objects missiing . . .

And the entire Ottoman archives. . . .
posted by rdone at 2:46 PM on April 22, 2004

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, one of the people who headlined the investigation came to speak out here. Some of the things that stood out from his talk:

-Counting the missing artifacts is very very misleading. One artifact missing could be the head of a giant statue (one of these, about 2x2x2 meters, was chopped off and trucked away), a pillar centuries old, or a hairpin, or a coin.
-The most success they had was in an amnesty program where they went around asking for things back, promising that they would be guarded by the US services until the museum was turned back over to the Iraqis. Nothing was ever paid for returned artifacts.
-One of the biggest difficulties with the amnesty program was getting people to trust that the artifacts were not going back to the Ba'ath party. The museum had apparently been more the museum of the palace than of the people, and employees were therefore party members. Despite the common interest of safeguarding the artifacts, people were reluctant to turn them over to the same party members.
-The staff of the museum were sneaking things out, because they were afraid of having them stolen or damaged. In one case, some 15,000 scrolls were found in a warehouse in the suburbs of Baghdad.
posted by whatzit at 4:08 PM on April 22, 2004

Also, an update from November with lots of numbers and details about specific items and an interview with the Colonel which covers a lot of the topic he talked about.
posted by whatzit at 4:11 PM on April 22, 2004

it's awful about all the cylinder seals--I love them. They would have been one of the easiest things to steal, being so small and pocketable.
posted by amberglow at 6:10 PM on April 22, 2004

rdone, thanks for bringing up the archives. A lot of media attention has been focussed on the museum and its artifacts, but the archives were as great a loss - perhaps even sadder, as we know a lot less about what was in them. A friend of mine works in Ottoman era mid-East history - he was telling me that what has been lost through the burning of the archive was invaluable.
posted by jb at 1:22 AM on April 23, 2004

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