Iraqi Cultural Heritage in Peril
  News Update On Looting in Iraq
  ECHO statement on the Iraqi Crisis

Iraqi Cultural Heritage in Peril

The Iraq War (II) has managed to create the worst cultural heritage catastrophe since the Second World War. Although the full extent of the damage and loss of sites, monuments and artefacts is not yet known, it is already certain that irreparable damage has been done.


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News Update On Looting in Iraq

Colonel Matthew Bogdanus, who was earlier this year put in charge of investigating the looting in Iraq, has now produced a report. At a press conference, held in London in July, he related that: thirty objects were still missing from the Baghdad Museum’s display cases, 169 from the restoration storeroom, 236 from the Heritage Room, 2,703 from the ground-floor storeroom and 9,666 from the basement store (comprising 4,795 cylinder seals, 4,997 small finds, such as necklaces and amulets, and 545 items of ceramic, bronze or glass). Elsewhere, customs officers in New York, London and Rome have seized some 675 objects known to have been looted from Iraq. Only one arrest has been made: that of the American writer Joseph Braude, author of The New Iraq: rebuilding the country for its people, who was stopped in New York and found to be carrying three cylinder seals marked with Iraq Museum inventory numbers, which he says he bought for US$200.

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ECHO statement on the Iraqi Crisis

ECHO deeply regrets and abhors the looting and damage to museums and libraries in Iraq and hopes that our colleagues working in that area of the world can quickly restore the museums to their former glory and retrieve most of the looted antiquities. ECHO would also urge anyone seeing any Mesopotamian artefacts for sale on the antiquities market or E-Bay not to buy them and to report them to the proper authorities such as: UNESCO, Art Loss Register or Interpol.

Good websites on Iraqi cultural heritage in peril are:

  • UNESCO and Iraq –
  • ICOMOS and Iraq -
  • The BBC –
  • Science Magazine –
  • The 2003 Iraq war and Archaeology –
  • The threat to world heritage in Iraq (Oxford University) -
  • Iraq the Cradle of Civilisation at Risk (H Museum) –
  • The Sun Never Sets on the British Museum –
  • The University of Chicago -
  • Subscription website:

    A good article to read is:

  • Lawler, A. 2003. ‘Impending war stokes battle over fate of Iraqi antiquities, Science, 299: 643.

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