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Forum: "The Cultural Heritage of Iraq and the Impacts of the War"

– The two items below concern the timely issue of the war's effects on Iraq's cultural heritage - its monuments, archaeological sites and museums. Last week, for example, thieves swept through Iraq's National Museum, stealing and smashing treasures. This week, looters and arsonists destroyed Iraq's National Library.

Forum: "The Cultural Heritage of Iraq and the Impacts of the War"

The University of California, Berkeley's Shorb House, 2547 Channing Way

Three UC Berkeley professors of Near Eastern Studies - David Stronach, Marian Feldman and Niek Veldhuis - will explore the risks to Iraq's cultural heritage that are being posed by the current conflict in that country. Excavations by Stronach from the 1960s to 1990 yielded artifacts that were in the now-destroyed National Museum in Baghdad.

Considered the "cradle of civilization," Iraq has endured over 8,000 years and experienced a succession of cultures - from Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian to Islamic. These cultures have produced historically priceless monuments, archaeological sites and museums situated on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and in other areas throughout the country.

The event is being co-sponsored by UC Berkeley's Archaeological Research Facility and Department of Near Eastern Studies.


Andrew Stewart, a UC Berkeley professor of ancient Mediterranean art and archaeology in the departments of History of Art and Classics, is working with a colleague at UCLA to circulate a petition asking California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to launch a formal investigation into the ransacking of the National Library and National Museum.

The petition asks the Senate to determine what the U.S. responsibilities were in what has happened, and what, if anything, might be done to recover Iraq's cultural treasurers. The petition also asks the Senate to ratify the 1954 Hague Treaty for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Stewart, an archaeologist who has worked in Israel for years, can be reached at astewart@socrates.berkeley.edu or (510) 642-4524.