The ziggurats I showed in class today are examples that barely scratch the surface of the important sites found in Iraq. For example, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and possible Garden of Eden), Nimrud, the Arch of Ctesiphon (the largest arch in the ancient world), Tall Harmal, and Nippur to name just a few. Drawing of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Cuneiform tablets are still being found around the region, with many of the tablets previously discovered still not translated. These tablets offer incredible insight into the daily lives of ancient people; they cover everything from various types of transactions to food growing and preparation tips.
Iraq is sometimes referred to as the “cradle of civilization” because urbanization, organized religion, imperialism, the first written language, the first major work of literature (The Epic of Gilgamesh), and many inventions such as the wheel and the plow were developed in this area.
History in peril?
“As a famous general once said, 'war is hell' and if it's staged in Iraq — the land where advanced cultures first flourished — archaeologists fear it could also wreak havoc on history.” Source
There have been many stories in the news about the consequences of the war in Iraq, including Halliburton “destroying” Babylon and the looting of various sites in the area. While there is plenty of blame to go around—such as American troops destroying part of a the ziggurat at Ur (and possibly looting it), Iraqi’s looting sites and selling artifacts on the black market, the almost total destruction of Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad by looters, and the collateral damage being done to architecture by the many explosion in the region—steps are now being taken by both sides to prevent further destruction.
I do not want anyone playing the blame game with this post, but I would ask you the following:
Has the area had a history of war/looting or is this a new problem?
Why are these sites important to us today?
What can be done to save or at least fully document these sites before they are desecrated?
What has already been damaged or lost in this region?
Is it important to YOU that these places get the protection archeologists think they need?
There is a ton of information online about this topic, show me what you can find!
Comments for this post are due Monday 9/17/07.