The Loot Goes On
Because it's not just human life being lost:
Iraq archaeologists say the ancient Mesopotamian site of Uruk, modern Warka, is being pilfered by smugglers and illegal diggers.
Warka, one of Sumeriansâ€™ earliest urban centers, has produced some of the earliest known writings in the world.
Many scientists believe the worldâ€™s oldest known civilization flourished in the city more than 5,000 years ago.
The warning for the fate of Warka, which has produced some of the most fascinating Mesopotamian artifacts, was made following a conference held at the University of Qadisiya.
Warka is in southern Iraq and close to the city of Diwaniya, the capital of Qadisiya Province.
â€œOwing to the great significance of Warkaâ€™s history and civilization we urge the authorities in charge to protect this ancient city,â€ read a statement issued at the end of the three-day conference.
The statement said Warka and many other Mesopotamian sites in the country â€œhave become the target of organized smuggling.â€
â€œThey are simply being neglected,â€ the statement added.
â€œIt is urgent that end be put to these illegal operations by having them secured once again,â€™ the statement urged.
Warka was the site of monumental temple buildings in the Sumerian era and, according to archaeologists, it was probably the largest city in the world by the end of the fourth millennium BC.
Some scholars estimate its area at 400 hectares, equal to the size of Rome in the first century BC.
Besides clay tablets, representing samples of some of the earliest writings in the world, the city has given the Iraq Museum beautiful stone sculptures depicting the temple flocks of sheep and goats.
This magnificent site is today almost deserted and run-down. In the absence of guards, it has fallen prey to illegal diggers and smugglers.
The sad thing is, at one point, it wouldn't have take so much to protect the major sites. Today is a different story, of course, but the vast majority of Iraqis want to protect these treasures, which are so much more than "just vases" to them, and to all of humanity. Thanks to the incompetence of our administration and their inability to occupy properly, looters have enjoyed a kind of freedom not seen since the fall of Rome. Heckuva job, Chimpy.