Iraq seeks help to restore Babylonian, medieval Islamic sites

Iraq appealed to other nations to help save its archaeological treasures from ruin.

Iraq seeks help to restore Babylonian, medieval Islamic sites

Iraq appealed to other nations on Thursday to help save its archaeological treasures from ruin, saying ancient Babylonian and Assyrian artifacts and priceless medieval Islamic monuments were at risk without more funds.

Iraq, which the ancient Greeks called Mesopotamia or 'land between two rivers' because of its Tigris and Euphrates, is regarded by archaeologists as the cradle of civilisation.

Many believe it gave birth to such milestones of human development as agriculture, codified law and the wheel.

But historic sites have been woefully neglected and damaged by decades of war, sanctions and looting. Iraqi officials say they need to spend millions of dollars to reverse the damage.

Babylon is home to King Nebuchadnezzar's Hanging Gardens.

"International support is badly needed to complete works of maintenance, rehabilitation and training," said Qahtan al-Jiboubi, Iraq's Minister of Tourism of Antiquities.

High on the list is the national museum in Baghdad, once a trove of ancient artefacts which was plundered after the 2003 invasion while U.S. troops stood by.

U.S. destroyes many cultural architecture such as libraries that included important manuscripts belonged Islamic civilizaition heritage.

Around 6,000 items out of the approximately 15,000 which were stolen when order collapsed after the fall of Saddam Hussein were back on display in February.

Officials from Greece, Egypt and Italy, each of which have much experience managing their own antiquities, attended a meeting in Baghdad to launch Iraq's appeal for help.

There has already been some international assistance. Italy rehabilitated two museum exhibition halls from the Assyrian and Islamic periods.

The head of Iraq's tourism and antiquities board, Qais Hussein, said target sites included the al-Hadba minaret and ancient city of Namroud in Mosul, the medieval Islamic city of Samarra and an historic minaret in western Anbar province.

He estimated each site would cost almost a million dollars.

Reuters
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2009, 14:50
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