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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to email@example.com. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. Guardian Unlimited: Days of plunder (Kamil Mahdi) --__--__-- Message: 1 From: Kamil Mahdi <K.A.Mahdi@DELETETHISexeter.ac.uk> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Guardian Unlimited: Days of plunder Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 00:42:02 +0100 (GMT Standard Time) To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go= to http://www.guardian.co.uk Days of plunder Coalition forces are doing little to prevent the widespread looting and des= truction of Iraq's world-famous historical sites Zainab Bahrani Tuesday August 31 2004 The Guardian The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban was met with an outcr= y in the United States, Britain and the countries that form the coalition i= n Iraq. Yet the coalition forces can now claim, among other things, the des= truction of the legendary city of Babylon. Ironically, the bombing campaign of 2003 had not damaged archeological site= s. It was only in the aftermath, during the occupation, that the most exten= sive cultural destruction took place. At first there was the looting of the= museums under the watch of coalition troops, but that was to be followed b= y more extensive and active destruction. Active damage of the historical record is ongoing at several archeological = sites occupied as military camps. At Babylon, I have seen the continuing co= nstruction projects, the removal of and digging into the ancient mounds ove= r the past three months, despite a coalition press release early in June st= ating that work would halt, and the camp would be removed. A helicopter landing zone, built in the heart of the ancient city, removed = layers of archeological earth from the site. The daily flights of the helic= opters rattle the ancient walls and the winds created by their rotors blast= sand against the fragile bricks. When my colleague at the site, Maryam Mou= ssa, and I asked military personnel in charge that the helipad be shut down= , the response was that it had to remain open for security reasons, for the= safety of the troops. Between May and August, the wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the = Temple of Ninmah, both sixth century BC, collapsed as a result of the movem= ent of helicopters. Nearby, heavy machines and vehicles stand parked on the= remains of a Greek theatre from the era of Alexander of Macedon. The minis= ter of culture has asked for the removal of military bases from all archeol= ogical sites, but none has yet been relocated. Iraq is ancient Mesopotamia, otherwise called the "cradle of civilisation".= It has more than 10,000 listed archeological sites, as well as hundreds of= medieval and Ottoman Muslim, Christian and Jewish monuments. The coalition= did not establish a means of guarding the sites, though they would be prot= ected in any other country rich in antiquities. As a result, archeological = sites are being looted to an extent previously unimagined. The looting supplies the appetites of an international illicit trade in ant= iquities, and many objects end up in places like Geneva, London, Tokyo and = New York. The lack of border controls has only added to the ease with which= the illegal trade in Mesopotamian artefacts functions. The looting leaves = the sites bulldozed and pitted with robber holes. Ancient walls, artefacts,= scientific data are all destroyed in the process. But it is not only the stolen artefacts that are lost. The loss of this dat= a is the loss of the ancient history of this land. Many important Sumerian = and Babylonian cities have been irreversibly damaged in this way already. P= assive destruction of this kind has been widespread under the occupation, b= ut antiquity is not the only area of concern. In Baghdad, the National Library and State Archives building is a burned-ou= t shell in which the employees work in the most horrendous conditions. The = Ottoman archive that records the history of the country, spanning the 16th = to the early 20th centuries, is in the gravest danger. Having been soaked b= y flooding last year, the archive began to mould. Upon the advice of conser= vators, the entire archive was removed to freezers to stop the mould. Because of the lack of electricity and equipment, the only place that could= be found with large freezers, and where power could be maintained, was an = abandoned and bombed building that had previously been a Ba'athist officers= ' club. In Iraq, where it is not unusual for temperatures to soar up to 60C= (140F) in summer, and where the Coalition Provisional Authority never mana= ged to restore the electrical power to the country, this was no small feat. The power in Baghdad (outside the US-occupied presidential palace and embas= sy buildings) is available, sporadically, about nine hours a day. If the ar= chives should thaw, the documents will be destroyed. The conservation proce= ss needs to be done in a time- and climate-controlled manner if the archive= is to be saved. But the Coalition Provisional Authority reassigned ownersh= ip of this building to the ministry of justice. There is now still no place= to move this archive to, the loss of which would be the loss of the modern= historical records of Iraq, much of which has not been studied or publishe= d. In the midst of the disasters of Iraq under occupation, the condition of it= s cultural heritage may seem a trivial matter. But, as a historian of antiq= uity, I am painfully aware that there is no parallel for the amount of hist= orical destruction that has taken place over the past 15 months in Iraq. Th= e Geneva and Hague conventions make the protection of heritage the responsi= bility of the foreign powers during occupation. Instead, what we have seen = under the occupation is a general policy of neglect and even an active dest= ruction of the historical and archeological record of the land. · Zainab Bahrani is professor of ancient near eastern art history and = archaeology, Columbia University email@example.com End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk