skip navigation

Information on Iraq

Update on Occupation of Site of Babylon by American and Polish Troops

The "Report on Meeting at Babylon 11th - 13th December 2004" by John E. Curtis, Keeper of the Dept. of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum, is available as a text document (since this is a .doc file, you will be asked if you wish to open or save / download it).

HR1047, "Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act" Passed

The bill passed both the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by President Bush. See details at left on this bill and the protection it provides and our support of the bill in June.

ASOR announces New Policy on
Looted Cuneiform Texts from Iraq

At its most recent Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in November 2004, ASOR adopted an exception to its current policies to permit the publication in ASOR journals and books and the presentation at its meetings of undocumented cuneiform texts from Iraq (numbering likely in the hundreds of thousands) under limited circumstances. Read more information on the policy.

Donate Books to the University of Babylon

Find out how to help restore the library at the University of Babylon by sending books via an address in the United States.

ASOR supports HR 1047:
Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities

Following majority votes by its Committee on Archaeological Policy (CAP) and Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, ASOR announces its public support of House Bill 1047. This bill has already passed both the House and Senate, but is now awaiting the appointment of conferees.

What you can do: write to members of Congress involved with the formation of the appointment of conferees, notably the following:
   Honorable Charles Grassley (R-IA)
   Honorable Bill Thomas (R-CA)
   Honorable Tom Daschle (D-SD)

One section of this bill would provide emergency protection for Iraqi antiquities. The bill is not as powerful as HR 2009 but is based on a strong piece of legislation (S. 671, see more info on 671) and would provide an opportunity for the U.S. to ban trade in Iraqi antiquities removed from Iraq after 1990, which could lessen looting and destruction of archaeological sites. The text of Title IV ("Iraq Cultural Antiquities") of HR 1047 is as follows:


SEC. 4001. SHORT TITLE. This title may be cited as the 'Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004'.

(a) AUTHORITY- The President may exercise the authority of the President under section 304 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Iraq as if Iraq were a State Party under that Act, except that, in exercising such authority, subsection (c) of such section shall not apply.
(b) DEFINITION- In this section, the term 'archaeological or ethnological material of Iraq' means cultural property of Iraq and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, or religious importance illegally removed from the Iraq National Museum, the National Library of Iraq, and other locations in Iraq, since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 661 of 1990.

SEC. 4003. TERMINATION OF AUTHORITY. The authority of the President under section 4002 shall terminate upon the earlier of-- (1) the date that is 5 years after the date on which the President certifies to Congress that normalization of relations between the United States and the Government of Iraq has been established; or (2) September 30, 2009.

ASOR joins AIA in petitioning U.S. government for cultural resource management in Iraq

ASOR has endorsed letters sent by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) that ask the U.S. government to support survey and salvage work to preserve Iraq's cultural heritage during reconstruction.

Jane Waldbaum, President of the AIA, has written letters to the US AID and US Army Corps of Engineers (see more information on the AIA website) requesting that cultural resource management (CRM) be incorporated into reconstruction efforts undertaken in Iraq, and that the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (ISBAH) be consulted for this task. The letters request that the ISBAH provide names of qualified archaeologists who could conduct any survey or salvage excavations undertaken in conjunction with the reconstruction projects. Read the full text of the letter and its supporting recommendations (in pdf).

ASOR supports House Bill HR 2009

Following majority votes by its Committee on Archaeological Policy (CAP) and Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, ASOR announces its public support of House Bill 2009. Known as the 'Iraq Cultural Heritage Protection Act', this bill is an attempt to protect the cultural and archaeological heritage of Iraq by restricting the importation of antiquities from Iraq into the United States. ASOR urges its members to contact their Representatives and ask them to support this important legislation.

For more information and names of representatives who are co-sponsors of this bill, please see the links at left.

ASOR member appointed Senior Deputy Advisor
to Iraqi Ministry of Culture

John Russell, member of ASOR and Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art, will travel to Baghdad in September 2003 to help restore museum collections, prevent further looting, and assist in rebuilding the infrastructure of the Ministry of Culture in Iraq. For more information, read the announcement on the AIA website.
Dr. Russell will no longer be presenting his paper in the Ethics session at our Annual Meeting this November since he will be in Baghdad, but a very similar paper will be read in its place by Alexander Joffe.

ASOR's Baghdad School remembered

A history of the Baghdad School of ASOR, which existed in Iraq between 1923 and 1969, is now available online. Our center in Baghdad was one of the first two "schools" in the American Schools of Oriental Research and was responsible for bringing generations of scholars into the field and funding many of the major excavations of the 20th century.

ASOR members participate in
discussions on the AARB

Several members of ASOR's Baghdad Committee (Elizabeth Stone, Paul Zimansky), our Executive Director (Rudolph Dornemann), and the editor of our journal Journal of Cuneiform Studies (Piotr Michalowski) were present at a meeting on June 9, 2003 sponsored by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) on the revival of the American Association for Research in Baghdad (AARB) and plans for its future. Elizabeth Stone shared information from her trip to Iraq this May with a National Geographic archaeological expedition (for more information, see second link under 'news').

ASOR members
join newly-created ACCICH

Two active members of ASOR, Dr. Piotr Michalowski (Univ. of Michigan) and Dr. Richard Zettler (Univ. of Pennsylvania) have been involved in the formation of an organization devoted to Iraqi cultural heritage. Michalowski is editor of our Journal of Cuneiform Studies and Zettler is chair of our Baghdad Committee. The American Coordinating Committee for Iraqi Cultural Heritage (ACCICH) represents a unified effort by American scholarly organizations and researchers to help save and rebuild Iraqi cultural heritage. For more information and to view the list of organizations involved, see the press release on ACCICH.

Statement on Baghdad Museum, 4/16/03

The looting of the Iraq Museum (Baghdad) is the most severe single blow to cultural heritage in modern history, comparable to the sack of Constantinople, the burning of the library at Alexandria, the Vandal and Mogul invasions and the ravages of the conquistadors. It took place under the eyes of U.S. military forces in contravention of the Hague Convention on the preservation of cultural property in time of war and the stated policy of the Department of Defense, which had written to the Society for American Archaeology regarding the safeguarding of cultural property in Iraq that "U.S. armed forces... conduct all their operations in accordance with the law of armed conflict, including those provisions of the 1954 Convention and 1999 Protocol that reflect customary international law." We urge that the United States Government recognize its responsibilities by immediately taking three steps to mitigate the situation:

• Close Iraq’s borders to any export of antiquities.
• Offer amnesty and monetary rewards for the return of objects from the museum that are still in Iraq.
• Enforce the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Statement on Iraq, signed in 2002

The organizations and institutions listed below, mindful of the devastation of Afghanistan's cultural sites and material caused by war and political chaos, are deeply concerned that an outbreak of hostilities with Iraq may have serious and damaging consequences for that country's monuments, museums, archaeological sites and material culture. These have unique value to our own cultural heritage which draws its strength from other cultures, including that of Mesopotamia, a region that has long been known as the cradle of Western civilization.

The undersigned ask countries to take measures to avoid, to the extent possible, damage to Iraq's cultural monuments, museums and archaeological sites and that their military forces respect the integrity of such monuments and sites. We ask also, that concerned countries, encourage and help Iraq to ensure security for its own monuments, museums and sites.

Finally, the undersigned, ask, if a conflict has occurred, that concerned countries encourage both governmental and non-governmental participation in rebuilding Iraq's cultural institutions. We are prepared to help mobilize appropriate technical, material and financial resources to support this end.


  American Council for Cultural Policy
  Asia Society
  Association of Art Museum Directors
  American Schools of Oriental Research (signed November 2002)

Archive of news stories on Iraq and antiquities

NYTimes: Warka vase recovered (6/13/03)

Nat. Geo.: Iraq expedition report (6/11/03)

NYTimes: Museum to reopen (6/8/03)

Nat. Geo.: Nimrud artifacts found (6/6/03) + photos

NYTimes: serious looting continues (5/27/03)

Boston Globe: library volumes saved (5/13/03)

NYTimes: artifacts being recovered (5/7/03)

BBC: report on London meeting (4/29/03)

WA Post: some artifacts being returned (4/24/03)

NYTimes: slow recovery of artifacts (4/23/03)

WA Post: cuneiform archives (4/18/03)

NYTimes on Mideast research (4/18/03)

UNESCO statement (4/17/03)

Boston Globe on Baghdad museum (4/16/03)

Chicago Tribune on Baghdad museum (4/15/03)

NY Times on Baghdad museum (3/13/03)

ABC on concerns over looting (3/11/03)

CNN on Iraq (3/1/03)

NPR story on Iraq's antiquities (2/20/03)

New York Times on Iraq (2/25/03)

December '04 -
Information on House bill HR 1047

Summary of HR 1047, the "Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004." To read text in relevant section, go to this page, search for HR1047, then click on 2004 version ("Passed by Both House and Senate") and scroll down to Title III: Iraqi Cultural Antiquities.

Information on House bill HR 2009

Summary of HR 2009
Legislative info. site.

Other groups supporting HR 2009:
AIA's position

AAA's statement
SAA's statement

SAFE's Call to Action regarding HR 2009
Saving Antiquities For Everyone discusses the bill

UNESCO draft resolution and recommendation (pdf file) concerning intentional destruction of cultural heritage (8/11/03)

Images and info

SAFE site (Saving Antiquites for Everyone)

Site photos from Iraq, 2003/04
(Univ. of Chicago)

Identifying stolen items from Iraq

Baghdad Museum project - Treasures of the Iraq Museum

Iraqcrisis email discussion list
(Univ. of Chicago)

Resources on Iraqi museum collections
(at ICOM)

Gallery of Iraq artifacts
(at Univ. of Chicago)

Middle East Librarians Assoc.: (Committee on Iraq Libraries)

UNESCO and Iraq

Iraq: Heritage in Danger

Statement on antiquities and images (Oxford U.)

Links to many articles, plus photos and video (F. Deblauwe's new site, April 05)

Interview with Dr. Sam Paley, 2/21/03
(Archaeology Channel)

Statements by the:
  AIA: Warning & Declaration
  SAA: Warning