Archaeological looting in Iraq

Archaeological Looting In Iraq

Archaeological looting in Iraq

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Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, archaeological looting has become a major problem. Though some sites, such as Ur and Nippur, are officially protected by US and Coalition forces, most are not. Saddam Hussein treasured his national heritage immensely and acted to defend these sites and the artifacts within them; with the fall of his regime on 9 April 2003, these sites have been left completely open to looting. Looters have therefore descended upon many of these sites and are in the process of destroying them and extracting artifacts to sell to collectors and dealers. Past archaeological research is being destroyed in the process, as is the potential for future research.

A series of international agreements banned the trade in looted antiquities in 1970, and in 2003 the United Nations passed UN Resolution 1483, which called upon all member states of the UN to act to prevent the trade of Iraqi cultural properties without verifiable provenance. However, this has done little to put a dent in the looting and international sale of Iraqi artifacts.Authorities have recovered shipments on a number of occasions, but overall a ban such as this one is very difficult to enforce. Four hundred items, most stolen from the National Museum of Iraq, were captured by Iraqi paramilitary units in May 2003 when they stopped a car near the Iranian border purely by chance. By June, customs inspectors and other authorities in the United States had seized over six hundred of the museum's artifacts....
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