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The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamiaby Milbry Polk
Synopses & Reviews
In April of 2003, the world reacted in shock at the news of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. Priceless antiquities, spanning ten thousand years of human history, were smashed into pieces or stolen, and one of the most important storehouses of ancient culture was forever compromised. This exquisitely illustrated volume is a reconstruction in book form of one of the world's great museums, and it stands as the definitive single-volume history of the art and archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia-the cradle of civilization.
The contributors to this book consist of a cadre of international archaeologists whose excavations helped piece together the rich tapestry of Mesopotamian life from earliest prehistory to the advent of Islam. A portion of the book's royalties will aid in the reconstruction of the museum and in the preservation of Mesopotamia's cultural treasures. Told through the art and artifacts that were lost recently in Iraq, this fascinating history of the civilizations of the Near East is sure to be a timeless and enduring book.
"As Baghdad fell in the spring of 2003, the thin deployment of coalition forces, it was said, made it impossible to protect cultural sites-which were immediately stripped-despite a legal obligation to preserve them. This book records the enormous, devastating losses (more than 15,000 pieces, only half of which have been recovered) of a major world museum, one that much of the world never had a chance to discover. Over 12 chapters, varied contributors lightly detail the depth and breadth of the collection, presenting highlights in 284 illustrations (most in color) from the collection as it was, with some asides about pieces that have been 'reported missing' or are otherwise no longer there. Yet the text accompanying these abundant photos feels thin. A seven-page history of the museum is barely informative; the seven pages on 'The Ravages of War and the Challenge of Reconstruction' feel woefully inadequate for a book of this title. With its lack of a unified perspective and the inclusion of previously published material, the book has a quickly-stitched-together feel. A percentage of the book's sales will be donated to the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage; the director of the Iraq Museum, Dr. Donny George, will tour the U.S. in June. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Sadly, unlike other museum catalogues that this book resembles, the collection of antiquities dating from the dawn of civilization that are depicted and described in this work no longer exists, having been systematically looted and destroyed in the immediate aftermath of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Attempting to recreate that lost collection, photojournalist Polk and magazine editor Schuster (ICON and Archaeology) have gathered contributions from archaeologists who have worked in Iraq over the years and helped build knowledge of Iraq's lost antiquities and the development of civilization. Accompanied by color photographs of many of the artifacts, the contributions provide historical, anthropological, and archaeological context in a chronological fashion. Also included is discussion of the history the museum, the circumstances of its looting, and damage at other Iraqi sites. A portion of the book's proceeds will benefit the museum and other archaeological sites still requiring protection.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Told through the art and artifacts that were lost recently in Iraq, this fascinating history of the civilizations of the Near East is sure to be a timeless and enduring book.
About the Author
Milbry Polk, a photojournalist and author of A History of Arabian Transportation and Egyptian Mummies, has edited a series of biographies on women explorers and coauthored the award-winning book Women of Discovery. Angela M. H. Schuster, editor of the award-winning preservation magazine Icon and The Explorers Journal, is also a contributing editor of Archaeology magazine and frequent contributor to The New York Times.
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