Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

While looking at photographs on State Department and Interpol web sites of still missing priceless Iraqi artifacts, I noted US Customs # 7: the head of Poseidon.
When I posted a photograph of this particular piece of missing loot back on May 6 at 2:32pm Poseidon’s head was still attached to his body. Was it separated at the time of looting? I don’t know.

A documentary called Robbing the Cradle of Civilization airs tonight on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Regarding the looting of the Iraq National Museum the CBC web page says:

There is strong evidence that some of it was a pre-planned professional operation aimed at feeding the huge Western appetite for Iraq's antiquities…gangs have been masterminding the export of millions of dollars worth of priceless treasures out of Iraq for at least a decade. What costs less than a dollar to dig up in the deserts of Iraq can sell for $400,000 at one of the prestigious auction houses of New York and London.

A conservation report by the British Museum is reported today in The Art Newspaper along with a story about Col. Matthew Bogdanos submitting his final report on the looting of the Iraq National Museum to the United States Department of Defense.
Col. Bogdanos reports:

768 items from the museum have now been recovered outside the country—in America, Britain, Italy and Jordan. Additional 911-looted items from the museum were seized in targeted raids inside Iraq. A further 1,731 objects have been voluntarily returned inside Iraq…the current loss is estimated at just over 10,000 items.

The report by the British Museum isn’t good for the ivory Treasures of Nimrud, previously described by US authorities as “the pride of the cultural recovery effort”, and argues that they are the most urgent conservation priority:

The most important ivories, those from Nimrud…were flooded with sewage-contaminated water, saturating the ivories. After the vaults were opened in June the ivories were gently disinfected with methylated spirit, but it now appears that they were slightly wet when they were later repacked. They also had to be left in the damp underground vaults, which still had wet patches on the floor. There are now fears that mould growth could develop.

The Art Newspaper article details the present condition of several other returned treasures including the broken Warka Vase.

I have followed the looting of the Iraq Museum here on this blog.
Relevant post occur on these dates:
April 14, 16, 18, 22 and 28
May 1, 6, 7 and 8
June 9, 14, 16, 19 and 28

Photos: The Art Newspaper and United States Department of State
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