Looting of Iraqi antiquities continues

Rumsfeld and looting in Iraq, cartoonBy Sandy English:

Four years since the looting of the National Museum

The plunder of Iraqi antiquities continues

19 April 2007

The looting of the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad during the American invasion four years ago was the beginning of a cultural catastrophe for that country.

Over 15,000 precious objects were taken from the museum, many of which dated back thousands of years and had inestimable scientific and artistic value.

The museum’s equipment and furniture were stolen. Display cases were smashed. Objects that could not be taken were destroyed.

The looting was permitted by the American military and was a policy decision of the Bush administration.

It signaled the intention of American imperialism not only to rob Iraq of its natural resources and pauperize its people, but also to destroy its culture, a central aspect of the ongoing sociocide being carried out against Iraq—the destruction of an entire society.

In four years, nearly every facet of Iraqi science, art, and education has been vandalized.

Libraries have been burned down or closed. Universities are bombed. Most children do not attend school, and academics, teachers, and other professionals have been assassinated or driven into exile.

The looting of the museum between April 9 and 12, 2003 revealed the deep contempt that the leaders of the world’s most technologically advanced nation held for world culture and the heritage of thousands of years of civilization.

The Iraq Museum was no ordinary institution. It contained artifacts from some of the world’s oldest advanced cultures.

Agriculture, the foundation of complex social structures, is believed to have appeared in Iraq as long as 11,000 years ago.

The domestication of animals, the invention of the wheel, and metalworking are also believed to have had an early development in Iraq.

The cities of Sumer based on the first sophisticated irrigation networks along the Tigris and Euphrates grew up over 6,000 years ago.

It is likely that the Sumerians, who lived in the south of Iraq, invented writing to organize the increasingly complex political and social needs of their city-states.

But because of the American occupation of Iraq, this history is being destroyed daily.

In the four years since the looting of the museum, Iraq’s many archaeological sites have become targets of looters who supply artifacts to the international antiquities trade.

Speaking to the Independent, Roger Matthews, chairman of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, said, “Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime the occupying powers in Iraq have signally failed to invest the funds and energies needed to protect the cultural heritage of Iraq which is ultimately under their guardianship.”

He and other academics have accused the British government of reneging on a promise made after the looting to the museum to fund the protection of Iraq’s heritage sites.

Bush’s adviser Karl Rove on the Iraq war, then and now: here.

1 thought on “Looting of Iraqi antiquities continues

  1. Pingback: The looting of Iraq’s museums, helped by the US Bush administration | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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