March 19, 2003

Cradle to Grave

Ancient Mesopotamia, modern Iraq: once again, bombing and looting threaten the cradle of civilization
By Melinda Liu and Anne Underwood / NEWSWEEK

In the process of turning Iraq into a sea of glass in the coming weeks/months, consider what will be lost from the "cradle of civilization" in what was ancient Mesopotania.

...In January scholars gave Defense Department officials the names of archeological sites they hoped to spare. ”[The military] had a list of 150,” says McGuire Gibson, professor of Mesopotamian archeology at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. “We gave them over 4,000 more—- but that only covers the 10 to 15 percent of the country we’ve studied.” the featureless plains of southern Iraq, the only high ground consists of the ruins of ancient cities. If the Iraqis make a stand, these mounds, which can be as much as four miles around and 80 feet high, are the natural places to do it.

But there is something to be gained from pre-war desecration of ancient ruins. Something, perhaps, for your mantel:

... Last week on eBay, sellers were offering 4,000-year-old cuneiform-tablet fragments (“Be sure to bid on this fantastic piece of history!”) and a Sumerian silver necklace from 2500 B.C. “There are Iraqi antiquities everywhere you look”...

Posted by fred1st at March 19, 2003 05:54 AM | TrackBack

Sad... so sad. :-(

Posted by: Alexandra at March 19, 2003 11:43 AM

That horse bolted the barn 30 years ago...perhaps you aren't aware of massive damage Saddam Hussein has wrought on Iraq's ancient southern marshes and the indigenous people...the very cradle of civilization of which you speak?

"Despite the massive, and possibly irreversible, environmental destruction in the marshes, it is the plight of the Ma'dan, not visible in these photographs, that is the most catastrophic result of Saddam's campaign.

What is happening in the Iraqi marshes is genocide-- the destruction of a people. Several thousand people have been killed since 1991 and tens of thousands made homeless. The United Nations has investigated reports of the use of chemical weapons. These ancient people, who have lived in the marshes since the dawn of history, are being subjected to a genocidal attack, chillingly reminiscent of the Anfal campaign that killed 200,000 Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.

Thousands of refugees have arrived at the Iranian border with reports of continuous artillery bombardments of their villages and settlements. Doctors report that epidemics of cholera and chronic diarrhoea are spreading among the remaining Marsh Arabs, who are now deprived of clean water by the drainage projects."

The whole sad story with satellite photos here

BTW- I wasn't aware that the US targeted cultural sites I saw a TV report from Bamiyan and the US Army is building infrastructure to enable this region to govern itself and provide needed services. It is hoped that some of the scraps can be salvaged from the three Buddhas and restored.

Posted by: feste at March 19, 2003 12:30 PM

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