New Exhibit Highlights Iraqi Artifacts, Looting

By Marcus Gilmer in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 11, 2008 4:05PM

2008_04_iraq.jpgA new exhibit at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago sheds light on the looting and destruction of Iraqi artifacts in the wake of the Fall of Sadaam. Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past, opened yesterday, the five year anniversary of the Fall of Baghdad, and continues through the end of the year. The exhibit focuses not only on the well-publicized looting of the Iraq Museum, but on the continued looting of these artifacts as well as the damage done to historical and archaeological sites from the ongoing war and what can be done to save them.

The Institute is also holding a symposium, Saturday April 12: “Looting the Cradle of Civilization: The Loss of History in Iraq." Among the speakers will be McGuire Gibson, Professor of Mesopotamian Archeology at the University of Chicago and Geoff Emberling, Director of the Oriental Institute.

No matter what one thinks of the current war in Iraq, the exhibit is timely. In a country that so highly values the preservation of our own historical landmarks, we too often ignore the ongoing destruction of similar sites in other countries, especially when we're involved. Gibson even points out that many U.S. dealers and galleries are partly responsible for the continued looting. "They are people whose names are on museum galleries, people who seem to be thinking they are saving these objects for posterity by buying them, but every time they do, it sends more looters into the desert in Iraq to destroy more archaeological sites to look for more artifacts." Mission accomplished, indeed. [Trib]

Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1155 East 58th Street, “Looting the Cradle of Civilization: The Loss of History in Iraq" Symposium, April 12, 9:30 am - 4:00 pm, $65 for Institute Members, $75 for general public, Call 773-702-9507 for registration.

Exhibit runs through December 31, 2008, check Institute website for hours and admission

Image of Iraq Museum from the Oriental Institute website