>What People Say… about the National Museum of Iraq: Raising Awareness on that Shameful Looting to the Humankind

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What people say about the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad is certainly not enough. The shame that the looting of Iraq Museum in Baghdad meant to the so called “civilization” is nothing in comparison with its irreversible loss, better said: our irreversible loss. That crime was something that not only affected thousands of museum professionals, archaeologists, art historians, and researchers from all over the world; that crime was a looting of our history, of our humankind heritage.

The first sentences of the Iraq Museum Database created by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago can give an accurate vision of the scope of the looting,

No other museum can rival the collections of Mesopotamian artifacts in the Iraq Museum. Spanning a time from before 9,000 B.C. well into to the Islamic period, the Iraq Museum’s collections includes 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 the Assyrian capitals of Nimrud, Nineveh, and Khorsabad, and Islamic pottery and coins–an unrivaled treasure not only for Iraq, but for all mankind.


To the ones who maybe could think that the stolen objects be recovered with a lot of effort, money and politics’ will; we would say that nothing can be done to retrieve Iraqi antiquities to their original state before the looting, nothing. Apart from the massive pillage, lots of art works were literally destroyed and smashed as you could see in the video titled “Remember Iraq’s Heritage, Our Heritage” posted on the social software by non-profit organization Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE.) This organization dedicated to preserve cultural heritage worldwide has organized “A Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum” to raise awareness about that terrible crime.

April 10-12, 2007 will be the fourth anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone is organizing a worldwide candlelight vigil to end the looting and destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq, and around the world.


With that aim, SAFE has interviewed Dr. Doony George Houkhanna, former responsible of Iraq Museum in Baghdad’s collection and currently visiting professor of Stony Brook University, in a video that we wish you will hopefully help to spread in blogs, workplaces and classrooms.

On April 10, 2003 news broke that shook the world. During three days and nights, thousands of priceless artifacts from the cradle of civilization were systematically looted from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. As Director of Research, Dr. Doony George Houkhanna has been responsible of the museum’s collection for decades and became a witness to a terrible event.


lamusediffuse, the organization behind e-artcasting project, is an international collaborative team exploring the forms, impact, and possibilities of electronic technologies in contemporary culture. Our mission is improving lives for individuals by improving access to culture through digital technologies and their creations, and in fact, some of us are from Baghdad. Witnessing the looting that our beloved country has suffered and still does exceeds the irreparable impact of the pillage at National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, as it is accurately underlined by Dr. Houkhanna when he speaks about the loss and destruction in Iraqi excavations. As Dr. Houkhanna proposes, “Let’s gather together and see what we can do, so that people will not forget what happened.”

In addition to SAFE, some other organizations have implemented praiseworthy initiatives for the Iraqi cultural relief. Apart from the cited Oriental Institute of Chicago and its comprehensive website Lost Treasures from Iraq, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has implemented a specific webpage entitled Resources on Iraqi Museum Collections in addition to the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk, which has been placed among other sad and shameful bunch of red lists on cultural heritage. Do not also forget to check the comprehensive SAFE List of Resources on Iraq.

“A Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum” will take place on April 10-12, 2007 to, “show your support for Iraq. Demand the return of the missing Iraq Museums artifacts. And demand the end of the looting and destruction of the world’s cultural heritage.” lamusediffuse will of course join this wonderful initiative and we will do it in different places.

At the moment, one of the venues in which we will be part of and where can not be a better context because it is a museum professional meeting, the Museums and the Web 2007 International Conference for Culture and Heritage Online at San Francisco. Another venue we are trying to implement will be at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. We will provide you more specific details about it at e-artcasting.

However, in some places this gathering call is going to have no visible face, because life for Iraqis working for humankind’s culture is not easy, as Dr. Houkhanna explains to Cindy Ho in this 38-minute interview to SAFE. We will be there, be sure. We just need you too.

Images
SAFE: Flyer of “A Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum.” 2007
savingantiquities: Remember Iraq‘s Heritage, Our Heritage. Posted on March 20, 2007
namirkh: End of Civilization. Posted on February 15, 2007
BI30: “Stuff Happens!” – Rumsfeld on looting after fall of Baghdad. Posted on August 01, 2006

Interesada en los contenidos y en las personas.

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Posted in Heritage, Museums 2.0, Online Collections

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