Join us for our next Google+ Hangout on Air. This time we'll be chatting with Katharyn Hanson (Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage) and Clemens Reichel, Curator of Ancient Near East at the ROM about the looting and destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage. Dr. Hanson is the Curator of "Catastrophe!," an exhibit created by the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute that is currently on display at the ROM. Her current work in Erbil (Iraq) involves the training of Iraqi archaeologists in aspects of cultural heritage protection and archaeological site preservation. Between 2003 and 2005, while working as a research associate at the Oriental Institute, Dr. Reichel coordinated the creation of an on-line database of Iraq Museum artifacts that were feared to have been stolen. He has recently returned from a visit to archaeological sites in southern Iraq.
The looting of Baghdad’s Iraq Museum in April 2003 during the Iraq war shocked the world. Priceless antiquities were stolen or destroyed, devastating one of the world’s most important museums of ancient culture. An extensive database, accessible to international researchers, had been developed and maintained by the museum. The destruction of these records was a great blow to world scholarship. Looting was not confined to this one prominent site. During the Iraq war, numerous of the country’s archaeological sites were ransacked with artifacts either stolen or destroyed. Catastrophe!: The Looting and Destruction of Iraq's Past is a poignant reminder that Iraq’s cultural heritage is still under threat. Text and images powerfully communicate the war’s tragic effects and the continued impact on Iraq’s cultural, archaeological, and heritage sites. Clemens and Katharyn will discuss the damage and destruction that Iraq's antiquities and cultural heritage sites suffered since the 2003 Iraq War, the resulting challenges to archaeologists, and the promise of future fieldwork in Iraq.