Sunday, November 25, 2007

Iraq - Myth of the looted museum

continues in the Times.

"The ransacking of the museum in April 2003 in the aftermath of the US invasion provoked worldwide outrage. American soldiers were criticised for watching as looters, taking advantage of the Iraqi government’s collapse, plundered the building.

“It was as if a hurricane had hit,” said Donny George, the museum director at the time, describing his return to the museum after it had been plundered. “What the looters could not take, they smashed.”

Some 15,000 items vanished. In time, some priceless objects were recovered, including the 5,200-year-old sacred vase of Warka, the world’s oldest-known carved-stone ritual vessel, which was returned in the back of a car. "

This myth was debunked years ago.

Back in 2003 Donny George sang a different tune.

"Donny George, research director, said: "There was a mistake. Someone asked us what is the number of pieces in the whole collection. We said over 170,000, and they took that as the number lost.

"Reporters came in and saw empty shelves and reached the conclusion that all was gone. But before the war we evacuated all of the small pieces and emptied the show cases except for fragile or heavy material that was difficult to move." Some pieces were hidden in the vaults of the central bank and others at secret locations, he added."

So, how much was lost?

"A carefully prepared storage plan, used in the Iran-Iraq war and the first Gulf war, ensured that tens of thousands of pieces were saved, they said. They now believe that the number of items taken was in the low thousands, and possibly hundreds."

No comments:

Brain Bliss