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LOST FOREVER: The National Museum of Baghdad

By: Massoume Price
Culture of Iran:

The National Museum at Baghdad was one of the most important Antiquity museums in the world, if not the most important. The Cradle of Civilization as it is often called, Mesopotamia (meaning between two rivers, present day Iraq) has been the earliest center of urban civilization, and the museum contained some of the most important items signifying the genius of mankind. The first tablets with the earliest written records created by humankind, the magnificent bronze head of Sargon equal to any work by Michel Angelo, and 3500 years older than Michel Angelo's David, were looted and lost forever.


The first human writings, Sumer 3000BC

The oldest versions of the earliest literary works, Gilgamesh and the Biblical Flood, and the oldest recorded poetry composed by Enheduanna, the high priestess of the temple at Ur, vanished in just a few hours of chaos, greed and madness. The beautiful 4000-year-old harp from the Biblical city of Ur once played at the temples to please gods, plus the magnificent jewelry and head ornaments discovered at the royal cemetery at Ur were savagely taken.


Bronze head of Sargon 1800BC

170,000 pieces detailing human brilliance, creativity and evolution, right from the beginning when the first Neolithic Revolution started 7000 years ago were kept and catalogued by the best experts in the world. People who dug out sites for over a century, cleaned every piece with love and care, labeled and displayed them, would shiver in their graves if they knew what happened to their labor of love.


Harp, Royal complex at Ur, 2000BC

These weren't just items that were lost, people often point out that human life is more valuable than any object. The items at the museum represented the collective consciousness of many nations from Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Iranians to the Iraqis for thousands of years. They represented the spirit of our nations, the brilliance of our ancestors who built and made us into what we are. Even nations cannot last for long without a spirit. As painful as it sounds, it is at times like this, that some of us, we are grateful that many of our national treasures are kept safe in museums outside our own countries; at least they are safe.

Jewelry from Royal tombs, Ur, 3000BC

Providing no protection to the National Museum at Baghdad was a criminal act, and against Geneva Convention that clearly states that the occupying forces are responsible for safety and security of the occupied nations and their heritage sites and collections. In fact it was a deliberate criminal act, because Americans were begged to send troops and protect the museum and they did not. They could not spare a tank with a few soldiers to protect thousands of years of culture, brilliance continuity and human creativity. When the Taliban forces were destroying the Buddha's statue in Afghanistan, the US media repeatedly showed the destructions for days, how many times have we seen the destruction of the museums in Iraq? Lets hope that the world community will sue them for their negligence.


... Payvand News - 4/16/03 ... --

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