Monday, April 13, 2009

IRAQ--BABYLONIAN ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED RECENTLY

Iraqi archaeologists have discovered 4,000 artifacts, most of them from ancient Babylonian times, including royal seals, talismans and clay tablets marked in Sumerian cuneiform - the earliest known form of writing.

The treasures came to light, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said, after two years of excavations across 20 different sites in the regions between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the land ancient Greeks referred to as "Mesopotamia."

In addition to Babylonian artifacts, the finds included artifacts from the ancient Persian Empire and more recent medieval Islamic cities.

The artifacts will be transferred to the National Museum in Baghdad, which remains in need of restocking since looters stole approximately 15,000 artifacts after the 2003 US-led invasion. Some 6,000 have since been reported as returned.

Qais Hussein Rasheed, acting head of the antiquities and heritage committee, said Iraq still had a big problem with looters ransacking archaeological sites. "These sites are vulnerable to endless robbery by thieves, smugglers and organized gangs because they are not protected," he said. "We have asked the relevant ministries to allocate policemen but haven't received very many so far."

Iraq is hoping a decrease in violence will encourage tourists to visit its
ancient sites. Iraq saw its first group of Western tourists last month, and officials hope more will follow. Nancy's comment: Hard to believe!

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