Raping The Cradle of Civilization

Friday, July 08, 2005

It is disturbing enough to see the atrocities that we are committing on the people of Iraq; but one other disgusting practice that has been going on since the start of the war is the looting, robbing and general destruction of one of the world's most prized archaeological sites. No matter what your religion is, Iraq is the cradle of civilization and has a history going back over 7,000 years. Whatever name you use, Babylon, Shinar or Mesopotamia, it is here that man first discovered philosophy, religion, math and of course the skill of writing. It is believed that there are over 10,000 significant archaeological sites in the country. A link here to a recent BBC article shows satellite photos of the damage caused to some of these sites by looting. The National Library and the Library of Korans were destroyed by fires in April of 2003. Among the treasures lost forever in these fires were the Ottoman Imperial documents and roughly a million books and ten million documents.
In the ancient 6,000 year old city of Ur, the marines spray-painted Semper Fi onto the walls of the ziggurat (a stepped temple-tower built in the period 2112-2095 B.C.). In the city of An Nasiriyah the U.S. government set up Tallil Air Base. In order to construct this air base the military removed 9,500 truckloads of dirt, thus completly destroying this site.
Elsewhere in Babylon, American forces decided to build a depot. Here, it has been observed by John Curtis (the British Museum's authority on Iraq), there are cracks and gaps where somebody tried to gouge out the decorated bricks forming the famous dragons of the Ishtar Gate. The 2,600 year old brick pavement has been crushed under the weight of tanks. The wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the Temple of Ninmah have both collapsed as a result of helicopter movement, this after lasting since the sixth century B.C.. To this day machines and vehicles still sit parked on the remains of a Greek theater from the time of Alexander the Great.
Another horrible practice by the military was the filling of thousands of sandbags with sand from
archaeological sites. When the military realized this mistake they actually made it worse by starting the practice of importing sand to the area, thus contaminating everything. Why did the U.S. government decide to set camp in the city of Babylon and thus ruin the entire area? Why did the U.S. government send out 2,000 troops to secure the northern oilfields of Iraq but sent out zero troops to secure the history of mankind? Granted, the military is not to blame for all of the losses of archaeological significance. However, all these artifacts and sites were in perfect order before we invaded Iraq and caused widespread death and destruction.


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