The University of Chicago has introduced an interesting new Web site for those of you keeping track of the chaos post-“Operation Iraqi Freedom”. It’s called Lost Treasures from Iraq and, given that it’s about treasures that were looted and are now presumably available on the black market, it’ll be interesting to see if UC can keep the site politics-free.
According to the news release at my friend Eric Wards’ URLwire:
In the world of Mesopotamian archaeology, no other museum could rival the collections from the Iraq Museum. Spanning a time from before 9,000 B.C. well into to the Islamic period they included some of the earliest tools man ever made, painted polychrome ceramics from the 6th millennium B.C., a relief-decorated cult vase from Uruk, famous gold treasures from the Royal Cemetery at Ur, Sumerian votive statues from Tell Asmar, Assyrian reliefs and bull figures from Assyrian capitals of Nimrud, Nineveh, and Khorsabad, to Islamic pottery and coins–an unrivaled treasure not only for Iraq, but for all of mankind.
In the days following the conquest of Baghdad the Iraq Museum was looted. Reports on the damage vary–the number of lost or stolen objects varies between 50,000 to 200,000. Irrespective of numbers, the losses not only to the world of a archaeology but to mankind in general are tremendous .
Very interesting, and well worth a few minutes of poking around. It’s a surprising application of the cliché that “history is determined by the winners.”