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Saddam Hussein installed a huge portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins. He also had part of the ruins rebuilt, to the dismay of archaeologists, with his name inscribed in an imitation of Nebuchadnezzar, on many bricks used. One frequent inscription reads, "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq".
Dr. John Curtis describes how parts of the archaeological site were levelled to create a landing area for helicopters, and parking lots for heavy vehicles. Curtis wrote that the occupation forces
"caused substantial damage to the Ishtar Gate, one of the most famous monuments from antiquity [...] US military vehicles crushed 2,600-year-old brick pavements, archaeological fragments were scattered across the site, more than 12 trenches were driven into ancient deposits and military earth-moving projects contaminated the site for future generations of scientists [...] Add to all that the damage caused to nine of the moulded brick figures of dragons in the Ishtar Gate by people trying to remove the bricks from the wall."