Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Over 170,000 Ancient Artifacts Have Been Destroyed Or Stolen From the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. We Will Go to Baghdad and Oxford to Talk About What Was Lost

April 14, 2003
Story
WATCH FULL SHOW

Topics

It emerged over the weekend that 170,000 ancient artifacts housed in the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad have been destroyed or taken by looters.

The New York Times reports the destruction of the museum is likely to be reckoned as one of the greatest cultural disasters in recent Middle Eastern history.

The National Museum recorded a history of civilizations that began to flourish in the fertile plains of Mesopotamia more than 7,000 years ago.

Among the treasures lost or destroyed:

  • the world’s first written words. After surviving for more than 5,000 years, distinctive clay tablets from the royal tombs of Ur are gone. The tablets have cuneiform writing and are recognized as the root of all mankind’s written communication
  • the world’s earliest examples of mathematics, including calculations that have led to the modern system of timekeeping using hours, minutes and seconds based on the number six.

Museum officials are outraged at US troops for failing to protect the museum. For weeks before the war, archaeologists and scholars from around the world had warned the Pentagon about postwar looting. They reminded the Pentagon that after the 1991 Gulf War, 9 of Iraq’s 13 regional museums were plundered.

  • Philip Smucker, reporter in Baghdad the Christian Science Monitor.
  • Eleanor Robson, fellow of All Souls, Oxford, and a council member of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.