Adult Programs

Robbing the Cradle of Civilization: Iraq's Cultural Heritage Under Fire

Iraq National Museum: Damage to museum's façade  Photo Credit: Joanne Farchakh-Bajjaly  A U.S. tank outside the children's section of the Iraq National Museum. On April 8, 2003, a gaping hole in the façade of this gateway was made by a U.S. tank round

Through eyewitness accounts, thoughtful debate and informed discussion, our panel of professors, archaeologists, lawyers, and historians explore recent events in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of what was ancient Mesopotamia. Together they will help us understand what happened in Iraq, and how we can act differently in the future to protect our irreplaceable archaeological record.

General Public: $20
ROM Member: $15
Student: $10


Saturday October 19
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Keynote Event: The Looting of the Iraq Museum

What really happened during the devastating museum lootings in Iraq?  Hear from Colonel Matthew Bogdanos and Dr. McGuire Gibson, two principal players in the decade long struggle to protect and restore Iraq's archaeological heritage.

Moderator: Dan Rahimi, Vice President, Program at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Sunday October 20
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Protecting Iraq's Past: Experts Respond


Lawrence Rothfield, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Chicago / Faculty Director, Cultural Policy Center. Prof. Rothfield's recent work has concentrated on illicit antiquities and the problem of protecting archaeological sites and museums from looting. Publications include Antiquities Under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War, and The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Iraq Museum. He is currently working on a book about the illicit antiquities market.

John Curtis, Keeper of Middle East Collections at the British Museum. Dr. Curtis is an expert in the archaeology and history of Iraq and Iran circa 1000-330 BC. Between 1983 and 1989 he directed excavations on behalf of the British Museum at eight different sites in Iraq, including Nimrud and Balawat. He is the recipient of the 2005 Iran Heritage Foundation Award for outstanding contributions to the promotion and preservation of the heritage and culture of Iran.

Patty Gerstenblith: Founding president of the Lawyer’s Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, research professor and director of the of the Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. Prof. Gerstenblith was appointed by President Obama to chair the Department of State’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), which advises the administration on its responsibilities regarding the prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property.

Morag Kersel: Assistant Professor of Anthropology, DePaul University. Prof. Kersel’s research interests include cultural heritage protection, and archaeological tourism. Her work combines archaeological, archival and oral history research in order to understand the efficacy of cultural heritage law in protecting archaeological landscapes from looting.


10:30 AM    Doors Open (President's Choice School Entrance - South End)

11:00 AM    Event Begins: Clemens Reichel - ROM welcome / intro speakers

11:00 AM–11:30 AM    John Curtis: "Remarks on the State of the Iraqi Cultural Heritage 2003-2013"

11:30 AM–12:00 PM    Patty Gerstenblith: "Legal Protections for Cultural Heritage during Armed Conflict: Developments since the 2003 Gulf War"

12:00 PM–1:00 PM    Lunch Break

1:00 PM–1:30 PM    Morag Kersel: "Selling Mesopotamia in Jerusalem"

1:30 PM–2:00 PM    Lawrence Rothfield: "Protecting Antiquities: What (More) Is to Be Done"

2:00 PM–2:15 PM    Coffee Break

2:15 PM–4:00 PM    Panel Discussion with Q & A

4:00 PM–4:30 PM    Book Signing

4:30 PM    End

Note: Order of speakers subject to change.


Royal Ontario Museum
Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre< Level 1B

President's Choice School Entrance ►