The Protection and Preservation of Iraq's Archaeological Heritage, Spring 1991–2003

Head of a mushkhussu (dragon).
Head of a mushkhussu (dragon).

This is a summary report of three surveys conducted in Iraq by scholars from the University of Vienna between 1999 and 2001. The author participated in all three surveys. Since 1991, there have been reports of significant damage to Iraq's cultural property. This damage has generally been considered the result of military action that occurred in the course of the 1991 Gulf War, looting in its aftermath, and neglect during the period of sanctions. But there was very little reliable information available to confirm or refute these allegations, and contacts with Iraqi scholars were limited between 1991 and 1999. The major task of these surveys was to fill the gap in information and to document the state of preservation of some of the most important archaeological sites and museums in the country. This report is divided into five sections: introduction, general remarks on the situation and state of information prior to 1999/2000, general description of the damage sustained by the cultural property of Iraq due to military actions during the second Gulf War and post-war looting, description of damage sustained by the cultural property of Iraq due to neglect and natural deterioration in the period of sanctions, and some concluding comments.


DOI: 10.3764/aja.109.2.251