Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wikileaks, Tariq Aziz, and Archaeological Amnesia

Archaeological bloggers are claiming that Wikileaks confirms that there was a link between illicit antiquities and the insurgency that US forces faced in Iraq. See http://larryrothfield.blogspot.com/2010/10/wikileaks-provides-evidence-linking.html
and http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2010/10/wikileaks-provides-evidence-linking.html

If so, the link remains tenuous. The search term "antiquities" comes up with only 16 hits in a universe of 391,000 documents. See http://wikileaks.org/iraq/diarydig. And many of these have nothing at all to do with antiquities smuggling.

Meanwhile, in other news that will certainly be ignored by such blogs, Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's point man in efforts to break international sanctions, has been sentenced to death. See
http://www.france24.com/en/20101026-tariq-aziz-former-deputy-pm-court-handed-death-penalty-iraq-saddam-hussein-justice-islamic-parties

Part of this effort included enlisting Western archaeologists to violate such sanctions. See http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2008/04/tarik-aziz-goes-on-trial-for-executions.html

There has yet to be a full investigation of this relationship between Saddam's regime and Western archaeologists. However, one wonders how much it colored reports of looting at the time.

Ironically, documents from the Baath Party archieve that are being repatriated to Iraq might have shed light on this issue, but it remains to be seen if those documents will actually be preserved and studied. See http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2010/05/jewish-archive-to-return-to-iraq-along.html Perhaps someone needs to release their contents to Wikileaks too.

1 comment:

culturalpropertylaw said...

Your readers might find the additional information at Does the illicit antiquities trade fund terrorism? helpful.

Thanks, Peter.