Monday, May 04, 2009

Iraqi Archaeologists Studying in Chicago

An interesting TV segment, with some footage of looting at the museums and some very old footage of digging on sites that I have never seen before. (Charles Jones kindly informs me that the old footage is from the Field Museum's long-ago expedition to Kish.) Bringing Iraqi archaeologists here to update their skills is heartwarming and the State Department is to be applauded for supporting this effort. But watch the story and you will see how this program is being promoted as a response to the looting, when in fact it does not do one thing (so far as I can tell from the coverage) to make the Iraqis better able to protect their sites. 

My colleagues are in a difficult position, and Gil Stein does an excellent job in this story of highlighting the immense losses that have occurred as a result of site looting. Unless it is made clearer, though, that while we all welcome the chance to assist Iraqi archaeologists other programs also need to be established to help cut down on looting, the archaeologists we train may have less and less to excavate.

1 comment:

Charles Ellwood Jones said...

The film of "...looting ... on sites that I have never seen before..." is actually of the legitimate excavations at Kish in the 1920's. You can see more of it at this news feature on YouTube about the Kish project at the Field Museum of Natural History. The Field Museum holds 1200 feet of film from the Kish excavations. As far as I know, it is not all available online.

-Chuck Jones-