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Author Topic: Iraq's Most Prominent Archaeologist Resigns and Flees The Country  (Read 1953 times)
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2006, 10:22:49 AM »

From Interpol.

* King Entemena 1.jpg (22.86 KB, 247x400 - viewed 110 times.)

* King Entemena 2.jpg (22.85 KB, 249x400 - viewed 107 times.)
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2006, 11:35:15 PM »

Perhaps this is why D. George left when he did.... - Bart

Fears for ancient treasures with Shia radical in charge
Ned Parker in Baghdad

IRAQ?S archaeological riches face a dangerous new threat following the appointment of a minister from a radical Islamic party to run the department responsible for antiquities.
Within months qualified staff have been purged from their posts, archaeologists have been threatened by gunmen and some of Mesopotamia?s ancient sites have been left open to looters. There are fears that Iraq may lose many of its Sumerian and Babylonian treasures forever. 
?We are really worried that Iraq?s history is going to be destroyed and vandalised because of a group of lunatics,? one former member of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage told The Times. He was referring to followers of the Shia Muslim militia leader Hojatoleslam Moqtadr al-Sadr, whose movement has secured a number of Cabinet posts in government, including the Ministry of Tourism, responsible for antiquities.

Liwa Sumaysim, the new Minister of Tourism, is a dentist whose wife is a member of parliament and a relative of al-Sadr. He has been accused of squeezing out experts and appointing religious fundamentalists to key posts. He denies these allegations.

But the former board member, who asked not to be named, said: ?The ministry and the board started to become just as it was under Saddam?s regime when we used to have Mukhabarat [secret police] officers observing our work.?

According to an American official, among the experts forced out was Abdul-Amir Hamdani, the director for antiquities in Dhiqar province. In April Mr Hamdani was arrested on charges of corruption, before being acquitted and released three months later.

The American diplomat lauded Mr Hamdani and criticised his replacement. ?His experience is almost nil. He cannot really do his job.?

The board was founded in 1923, three years before Gertrude Bell, the British colonial officer and Arabic scholar, established the National Museum of Iraq. Since then Iraqi archaeologists have been regarded widely as the foremost scholars in their field throughout the Middle East.

But the expertise is vanishing. Donny George, the former president of the board, resigned this summer and fled to Syria, where he has raised the alarm. Before he left, Dr George said that he had sealed the National Museum with thick concrete walls to protect the exhibits from the anarchy in Baghdad.

?I can no longer work with these people who have come in with the new ministry. They have no knowledge of archaeology, no knowledge of antiquities, nothing,? he said.

?They are only interested in Islamic sites and not Iraq?s earlier heritage,? added Dr George, a Christian. He accused the Sadrists of pressuring the board to cut its ties with museums and cultural institutions around the world, as well as to sever its links with the coalition forces ? relations deemed essential to help to protect sites and prevent troops from going to areas where they could destroy artefacts.

Elizabeth Stone, an anthropologist at Stony Brook University, New York, who trained Iraqi archaeologists in 2004, said that the Ministry of Tourism was not doing enough to protect sites in the south from looters. ?What is striking is that the Islamic parts are left alone, whereas the immediate preIslamic sites are not,? she said.

Dr Stone said there were rumours that Islamic militant groups were smuggling artefacts to fund their activities.


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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2006, 03:15:26 PM »

Gertrude Bell

Bell in front of her tent during excavations in Iraq in 1909

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell (July 14, 1868 ? July 12, 1926) was a British writer, traveler, political analyst, and administrator in Arabia. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire. Bell and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) are recognized as almost wholly responsible for creating the Hashimite dynasty and the modern state of Iraq. During her life, she was an unrecognised force behind the Arab revolt in World War I and, at the conclusion of the war, drew up borders within Mesopotamia to include the three vilayets which later became Iraq.

Bell was born in Washington Hall, County Durham, England to a family of great affluence. She was a granddaughter of industrialist Isaac Lowthian Bell. At the age of 16, she went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she gained a first class honours degree in history in only two years.

Traveller and author

Bell's uncle Sir Frank Lascelles was British minister in the city of Tehran. In May 1892, after leaving Oxford, Bell travelled to Iran to visit him. She described this journey in her book Persian Pictures. She spent much of the next decade traveling around the world, mountaineering in Switzerland, and learning archaeology and languages ? Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian and Turkish.

In 1899, Bell again embarked to the Middle East. She visited Palestine and Syria in that year and in 1900 traveled to Jerusalem dressed as a male Bedouin to look for the Druzes. She reached Jebel Druze and befriended the Druze king Yahya Beg. In 1905, Bell was again in the Middle East and traveled widely, studying local ruins and staying with both the Druzes and Beni Sakhr and meeting many Arab chieftains, emirs and sheiks. She published her observations in the book The Desert and the Sown. Bell's vivid descriptions opened up the Arabian deserts to the western world. In March 1907, Bell journeyed to Turkey and began to work with the archaeologist and New Testament scholar Sir William M. Ramsey. Their excavations were chronicled in A Thousand and One Churches.

In January 1909, she left for Mesopotamia. She visited the Hittite city of Carchemish, found the ruin of Ukhaidir and finally went to Babylon and Najac. Back in Carchemish, she worked closely with the two archaeologists on site. One of them was T. E. Lawrence. Her 1913 Arabian journey was generally difficult. She was the second woman after Lady Anne Blunt to visit Ha'il. Although she was not favourably received by the Ibn Rashid dynasty, she later favoured them in the struggle against the Ibn Sa'ud dynasty.

Anti-Suffrage League

Bell also became honorary secretary of the British Women's Anti-Suffrage League. Her stated reason for her anti-suffrage stand was that as long as women felt that the kitchen and the bedroom were their domain and that they were not worthy of being included in political debate, they were truly unfit to take part in deciding how the nation should be ruled.

War and political career

At the outbreak of World War I, Bell's request for a Middle East posting was initially denied. She instead volunteered with the Red Cross in France.

Work in the Middle East

Gertrude Bell is silhouetted against the striking backdrop of Lebanon?s Quebbed Duris monument during her first foray into the desert in 1900.

However, in November 1915, she was summoned to Cairo to the Arab Bureau under General Gilbert Clayton. She also met Lawrence again. At first she did not receive an official position but set out to organize Lawrence's knowledge about the location and disposition of Arabic forces that could be encouraged to join the British against the Turks. Lawrence and the British used the information in their dealings with the Arabs.

On March 3, 1916, Bell arrived in Basra, which British forces had captured in November 1914, to advise Chief Political Officer Percy Cox. She drew maps to help the British army reach Baghdad safely. She became the only female political officer in the British forces and received the title Liaison Officer, Correspondent to Cairo. She was Jack Philby's field controller at this time and taught him the finer arts of espionage. When British troops took Baghdad on March 10, 1917, Cox summoned Bell to Baghdad and presented her with the title of Oriental Secretary. She later departed for Persia. Her work was specially mentioned for credit in the British Parliament, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

Creation of Iraq

Gertrude Bell (third rider from left) is flanked by Winston Churchill, on her right, and T.E. Lawrence at Giza during the 1921 Cairo Conference.

When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in late January 1919, Bell was assigned to conduct an analysis of the current situation in Mesopotamia and the options for future leadership in Iraq. She spent the next ten months writing what was later considered a masterful official report. When her conclusion was largely favorable to Arabic leadership, her superior, A. T. Wilson, turned against her. On October 11, 1920, Percy Cox returned to Baghdad and asked her to continue as Oriental Secretary, acting as liaison with the new forthcoming Arab government.

Her influence led to the creation of a nation inhabited by a Shi'ite majority in the southern part of the country and Sunni and Kurdish minorities in the center and the north. By denying the Kurds a separate state, the British tried to keep control of the oilfields in their territory. The British thought that Sunnis should lead the Iraqi nation, because the Shi'ite majority was regarded to be religiously fanatic. "I don't for a moment doubt that the final authority must be in the hands of the Sunnis, in spite of their numerical inferiority; otherwise you will have a ... theocratic state, which is the very devil," Bell once said. The rivalries and the different religious attitudes still cause frictions which might break Iraq apart.

Bell persuaded Winston Churchill to endorse Faisal, the recently deposed King of Syria, as the first King of Iraq. When Faisal arrived in Iraq in June 1921, Bell advised him in local matters, including issues involving tribal geography and local business. Bell also supervised the selection of appointees for other posts in the new government. Faisal was crowned king of Iraq on August 23, 1921. Due to her influence with the new king, she earned a nickname "The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq". Working with the new king, however, was not easy: "You may rely upon one thing -- I'll never engage in creating kings again; it's too great a strain."

Baghdad Archaeological Museum

After the situation stabilized, Bell begun to form what would later become the Baghdad Archaeological Museum, located at first inside the confines of the royal palace. She supervised excavations and examined finds and artifacts. Against European opposition, she insisted that excavated antiquities should stay in their country of origin, thereby ensuring that her museum could retain a collection of Iraq's antiquities. The museum was officially opened in June 1926.


Bell briefly returned to Britain in 1925 and, in following years, found herself facing family problems and ill health. Her family fortune had begun to decrease. She returned to Iraq, but soon after developed pleurisy. When she recovered she heard that her brother had died of typhoid. Bell committed suicide on July 12, 1926 in Baghdad by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. She had never married or had children. She was buried at the British cemetery in Baghdad's Bab al-Sharji district.

After her death, in 1927, her stepmother edited and published two volumes of Bell's collected correspondence during the 20 years preceding World War I.

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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2006, 06:40:17 PM »

Such an amazing woman. Considering she lived in Victorian times, and her life consisted of doing things that were unheard of for a "proper" lady, she was fascinating enough for an exciting work of fiction, but it all really happened. I would encourage readers to look for one of three biographies of Bell, and the BBC website also has an audio interview with one of her biographers.
  It deeply saddens me to think of her unflagging work to bring about the museum in Iraq, and then to think of Donny George today, needing to seal the doors with concrete to keep out the looters. 
  Gertrude Bell was one of the instigators of the idea that antiquities of a country should remain in that country. This view caused her many problems with the British and European academics.  And we are still agonizing over it daily, as seen in this forum and others.
To quote a BBC article:
 But Bell was far from happy. She died in July 1926, two days before her 58th birthday, after taking a heavy dose of sleeping pills.  Winstone says: "There is a suggestion she committed suicide, which she almost certainly did. With the collapse of the political set-up that she had established, and the collapse of the last of her romantic associations, she was a very unhappy woman." Thousands lined the streets of Baghdad to watch the uncrowned queen of Iraq being taken to her last resting place in Baghdad's British cemetery.  Today, her grave is unattended, her city at war and her beloved museum looted of many of its treasures. Winstone is astonished that so little has been learned from the past: "I simply couldn't have imagined when I first wrote this book 30 years ago that I would meet a situation in the present day, 80 years on, where we are simply repeating, act by act, the follies of the past. Bell was trying her best, she was experimenting. The politicians of today have all the knowledge of what went wrong and took no account of it."
    This insightful statement by her biographer, Winstone, says so much. Sadly.  Angry  Cry
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2007, 11:43:08 AM »

Vase dedicated by Entemena, king of Lagash, to Ningirsu. Silver and copper, ca. 2400 BC. Found in Telloh, ancient city of Girsu.
H. 35 cm (13 ? in.), Diam. 18 cm (7 in.)
Gift of Sultan Abdul Hamid, 1896, to the Louvre, Paris.


His son and successor Entemena (ca 2455-2425 BC) restored the prestige of Lagash. Illi of Umma was subdued, with the help of his ally Lugal-kinishe-dudu of Uruk, successor to Enshakushanna and also on the king-list. This Lugal-kinishe-dudu seems to have been the predominant figure at the time, since he also claimed to rule Kish and Ur.

A tripod of silver dedicated by Entemena to his god is now in the Louvre. A frieze of lions devouring ibexes and deer, incised with great artistic skill, runs round the neck, while the eagle crest of Lagash adorns the globular part. The vase is a proof of the high degree of excellence to which the goldsmith's art had already attained. A vase of calcite, also dedicated by Entemena, has been found at Nippur.

After Entemena, a series of weak, corrupt priest-kings is attested for Lagash. The last of these, Urukagina, was known for his judicial, social, and economic reforms, and his may well be the first legal code known to history.
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