Rural Iraq hit hard by looting
Archaeological sites in rural Iraq appear to have been hit extremely hard by looters since the beginning of the war.
While considerable attention has been focused on the looting and damage to antiquities in Baghdad, the scale of damage may be far greater in the rest of Iraq, home to some of the most ancient sites of human civilization, according to the most comprehensive survey to date.

Perhaps more damaging than the loss of museum antiquities is the loss of artifacts from remote sites not yet catalogued and studied. Cuneiform tablets -- ancient writing on clay -- were a unique feature of ancient Mesopotamia, and many tablets may have been pillaged, broken and discarded by looters unaware of their value, said Elizabeth Stone, an anthropologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

In the ancient city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, entire slabs of palace walls have been looted. "The panels set around the main chambers had been stolen," said Tony Wilkinson, an archaeologist at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Guards had driven off the thieves after a gunfight, he said, but "there were bullet holes in the cuneiform inscriptions."

The palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh was "in a sad state," he added. Iraqis had built army encampments around the site, and looters had dug up the floors of the palace looking for gold or ivory.

Wright said the little village of Qirmez-Dere had been damaged by foxholes built before the war. At nearby Khorsabad and Tell-Billa, unexploded bombs lay at ancient Assyrian sites.

Responding to the conflicting reports about damage to the National Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad, McGuire Gibson, a University of Chicago expert on ancient Mesopotamia, said damage far exceeded the 33 items recently reported. That number, he said, reflected the items taken only from the main galleries.
Hello? Where are you, Aaronovitch, InstaPuny, Sullivan, and others who see this as a "hoax", as "bollocks", as some kind of joke? Is your concern over the antiquities genuine, or are you talking about this issue simply to "demonstrate" how much the press hates Bush and everything American? What do you say about this?

The entire country of Iraq is a museum and an archaeological site. But it didn't matter to the geniuses who "planned" this war. What plans, concerning anything, did they make for dealing with the aftermath of the war - besides protecting the oil ministry?

A big shout out to the "uneducated artist" Tom Tomorrow for caring about this issue and staying with it.

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