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I received the breathtaking news below from a Hungarian university mailing list. The alleged source is a list called Syrcom. Best Attila ------------------------------------------------------------------------ No mass theft of antiquities Inventory compiled of pieces in storage refutes reports artifacts taken by looters ---------------------------------------- Posted: May 5, 2003 4:15 p.m. Eastern ---------------------------------------- Š 2003 WorldNetDaily.com Nearly all of the Iraqi antiquities feared stolen or broken by looters have been found inside the National Museum in Baghdad, and the isolated thefts appear to be an inside job, according to press reports. In contrast to reports that thousands of artifacts from Iraq's renowned treasure trove were casualties of war, U.S. investigators have determined a total of 38 pieces remain unaccounted for, reports the Chicago Tribune. And one display of Babylonian cuneiform tablets accounts for nine of those missing items. According to the paper, the most valuable missing piece is the Vase of Warka, a white limestone bowl dating from 3000 B.C. In the hours and days after U.S. and British troops entered Baghdad and began to secure the city, reports emerged saying that tens of thousands of Iraq's cultural artifacts were being looted from the capital's museums. Analysts and military officials alike said they were uncertain as to how many of the 170,000 artifacts in the world famous museum were stolen, but losses were predicted to be in the thousands of items. Some reports even intimated that coalition soldiers were involved in the looting, and calls from around the world for the West to secure Iraq's cultural and historical treasures echoed. CBS News reported April 30 that "thousands" of artifacts had been "plundered" from the museum, home to many items from ancient Mesopotamia, which was among the earliest civilizations. The news network also suggested that American forces were unconcerned about the artifacts. "Looting, of course, is as old as war itself," CBS reported. "On April 11, while conquering American troops were guarding Iraq's oil ministry, they were not protecting Iraq's museum. Armed thieves walked right in," the report said, adding that looters took "everything of value" - a claim that now appears to be erroneous. But as the dust finally settled, coalition forces coupled with United Nations officials are taking stock of the damage done. A team of military and civilian investigators headed by Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos scoured five large storage areas in the museum on Saturday and compiled an inventory of the artifacts. Investigators found little damage occurred to antiquities displayed at the museum. According to their count, 17 out of a total of 300-400 display cases were destroyed. Many of the items apparently were removed before the looting. Investigators did find one instance where intruders took less- valuable artifacts from a little-known storage room in the basement. Ninety plastic boxes, containing about 5,000 less-valuable items disappeared. One was retrieved about a week ago near Al Kut. Fox News reports other stolen pieces were seen crossing the Iranian border, taken in by smugglers apparently to be sold on the black market. The Associated Press quoted U.S. Central Command head Gen. Tommy Franks, wholed the war in Iraq, as saying that coalition forces were recovering looted items - "thefts that sparked international criticism that the United States could have done more to protect such sites." Citing the fact that the selected 38 items were taken from locked storage rooms and that museum officials claim the keys were lost, investigators suspect the theft was an inside job, according to Fox. In contrast, much of what was lifted by looters, according to the Tribune, were items of common, everyday use - desks, chairs, wiring, water fixtures. The paper said there was "extensive" damage done to the museum's administrative offices. "There is no comparison in the level of destruction seen in the museum and that seen in the administrative offices," Bogdanos told the paper. "It's absolute wanton destruction in the offices. We didn't see anywhere near that destruction in the museum. [People] stole what they could use. They left the antiquities." The looting did cause damage. Investigators have counted 22 damaged items, including 11 clay pots that lined corridors. Many of these items, the Tribune said, were restored and can be again. The Golden Harp of Ur was the most significant piece damaged, but investigators say the golden head on the antiquity, feared missing, was only a copy. The original head was placed in a storage vault at the Iraqi Central Bank sometime before the war, museum officials said this week. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk