Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Robert Fisk: "It is the death of history?"

The savage ugliness of Taliban extremism shown by the destruction of the historic and irreplaceable Buddhist statues in the Bamiyan valley and elsewhere in Afghanistan has a contemporary equivalent in Iraq where looting of historic artifacts has become a cottage industry.

As Donald Rumsfeld said, "Stuff happens."

I am reminded of Lenin's line...You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

The legions of antiquities looters work within a smooth mass-smuggling organisation. Trucks, cars, planes and boats take Iraq's historical plunder to Europe, the US, to the United Arab Emirates and to Japan. The archaeologists say an ever-growing number of internet websites offer Mesopotamian artefacts, objects anywhere up to 7,000 years old.

The farmers of southern Iraq are now professional looters, knowing how to outline the walls of buried buildings and able to break directly into rooms and tombs. The archaeologists' report says: "They have been trained in how to rob the world of its past and they have been making significant profit from it. They know the value of each object and it is difficult to see why they would stop looting."

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