Daily Archives: August 3, 2009

UN reports Babylon damaged by US troops

According to a report on CNN.com U.S. troops are accused by a United Nations report of damaging ancient Babylon. Well, surprise!, surprise! I think its called war.

The troops and their contractors caused “major damage” by digging, cutting, scraping and leveling while they were revamping the site to meet military standards, the U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO, said in a report.

“Key structures that were damaged include the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way,” the report added.

The Ishtar Gate, an entrance to the northern part of the city, is decorated with animals that portray the symbol of the god of the city of Babylon.

“Damage to the gate includes smashed bricks on nine of the bodies of the animals adorning the gate,” according to the report.

To those of us interested in the past this damage is to be regretted. Babylon is important in Biblical history. The report goes on to say that local residents had contributed to the damage through development. One could fill a book with accounts of this happening at important historic sites.

The report introduces another aspect.

During colonial times, archaeologists hauled off Babylon’s artifacts to Europe. Some of those artifacts can be seen in a museum in Berlin, Germany.

babylon-diagram-washingtonpostYes. Thankfully the German archaeologists excavated the Ishtar Gate and the Procession Street and took those things to Berlin for preservation and restoration. It is now possible to visit the Museum of the Ancient Near East (Vorderasiatisches Museum), also called the Pergamum Museum, and see the Ishtar Gate and the Procession Street. I note that the Museum site now has some small, but nice photos online here. You may also see panels from the Procession Street at other great museum of the world including several in the United States.

We have previously written about Babylon, with photos, here, here, and here.

We commented on those dreaded colonial archaeologists here.

Check these reports: The Irish Times; The Washington Post. I do not doubt damage, but the photos show the site much the same as it was in 1970 when I visited.

HT: Harriet; Biblical Paths.