More than two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, 10,000 artefacts looted from the National Museum of Iraq are still missing.
he National Museum of Iraq is now a sorry sight. The rusting gates are shut to the public, inside layers of dust lie across the 28 galleries empty of
everything except a dozen ancient statues which are just too vast to move.
More than two and half years after the ransacking of the museum by a mob following the “liberation” of Baghdad by US troops, almost 10,000 items,
including some of the most precious treasures of antiquity in the world, are still missing.
Meanwhile, widespread and systematic looting of Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian architectural sites across the country has resulted in the heritage
of Mesopotamia, the cradle of human civilisation, continuing to disappear.
Of a list Col Bogdanos compiled of the 40 most valuable stolen artefacts from the museum looting, 25 still remain unaccounted for and there are no
strong leads as to where they are. They include such priceless items as the Sumerian black statue of Eannatum, one of the earliest royal sculptures to
bear an inscription; the lifesize head of the goddess of victory, from Hatra; and a gold and ivory plaque of a lioness attacking a Nubian. The most
acute losses are pieces which are just too famous to be offered again in the black market. Instead, say investigators, they have already been placed
with hugely wealthy collectors who can only lock them away.
Professor Zainab Bahrani, am ancient near eastern historian at Columbia University in the US, is one of a shrinking number of specialists who are
attempting to track the stolen heritage. He said: “You are never going to see these in a gallery. No art dealer would ever touch them, because they
are just too well known. We are talking about a black market. These pieces will never again see the light of day.”
he US administration faced international condemnation for doing nothing to protect the museum during the anarchic aftermath of the fall of Baghdad
while quickly safeguarding the oil ministry. Two months before the invasion a group of experts warned the Pentagon about the dangers of looting
following the conflict. The Geneva Convention requires an occupying force to safeguard cultural facilities and the then Secretary of State, Colin
Powell, had said: “The US understands its obligations and will be taking a leading role with respect to antiquities in general but this museum in
Dr Donny George, the director of research for the Board of Antiquities in Iraq, went to the Palestine Hotel, where US marines had set up
headquarters, to plead for troops to protect the museum but none were sent for another three days.
Afterwards, the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who described the days of looting and arson in the Iraqi capital as “untidiness”, said of the
sacking of the National Museum: “To try to pass off the fact of that unfortunate activity to a deficit in the war plan strikes me as a stretch.”
And General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “When some of the looting was going on, people were being killed, people
were being wounded. It’s as much as anything a matter of priorities.”
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
I bet that the Art Black Market is having some Serious Profits this past two years, since 10.000 Artifacts, that are basicly Priceless, are still
missing, possibly alread sold to the RICH Private Collectors, and are currently Proudly showing them to their RICH Collector Friends.
Here are some Related Links:
ATS - At least 8,000 treasures looted from Iraq museum still untraced
ATS - Looters Had Keys to Iraqi Museums