Sunday, March 29, 2015

PRESIDENTS OF ALL TOP ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETIES WROTE AN IMPORTANT LETTER TO THE EDITOR RECENTLY

To the Editor:

Re “Race to Record and Shield Art Falling to ISIS” (front page, March 9):

The Islamic State has caused irreparable harm to the cultural heritage of Iraq, and, indeed, that of the world, through the destruction of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud, Assyrian sculptures at Nineveh and archaeological works of art in the Mosul Museum and elsewhere. Our institutions have released a joint statement deploring these heinous acts.

Iraq is one of the birthplaces of human civilization. Damage to its cultural heritage through wanton destruction of archaeological sites and artifacts, as well as looting and trade in archaeological materials, is reprehensible and shows a blatant disregard for our shared humanity. Tolerance of these acts can only lead to further losses of a similar or even greater magnitude.

As difficult as it is in these troubled times, we join in calling on international authorities to do what they can to protect the world’s archaeological and cultural materials. We also call on museums and the global archaeological community to alert the appropriate international authorities if they believe they have information regarding objects recently stolen from Nimrud, Mosul and elsewhere in the conflict zone of northern Iraq and Syria.

We support the efforts of the legitimate antiquities authorities in the region to mitigate the damage to the archaeological and historic heritage. We pledge to augment our efforts to educate the wider public about the significance of this heritage to humankind. Only through greater understanding of the value of this legacy for modern societies can we hope to stem these terrible losses.

ANDREW MOORE
President
Archaeological Institute of America
Boston

The letter was also signed by leaders of the Society for American Archaeology, the Association of Art Museum Directors, American Schools of Oriental Research, the American Anthropological Association and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

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