This public lecture by Dr Saad Eskander (former National Librarian of Iraq) is organised by Trinity Long Room Hub as part of the Out of the Ashes Lecture Series.
150 Years of Looting and Destroying Mesopotamian Antiquities: Lessons Learnt from a Painful Past
The ransacking of Mesopotamian archaeological artefacts between 2003 and 2017 represents the last episode in a long story that started in the nineteenth century, when foreign scholars, commercial agents and diplomats shed light on the remains of several great civilisations in places like Babylon, Ninawa and Baghdad. This was followed by some major excavations carried out by Europeans, who shipped out of Mesopotamia most of the important objects they discovered to their own countries.
This presentation is chronologically based, and divides the ransacking and destruction of Mesopotamian antiquities into several historical periods: 1950s–1914, 1915–1932, 1932–1973, 1972–1990, 1991–2002 and 2003–2017. The state of Mesopotamian antiquities in every period was a true reflection of the existing political and security situation as well as the dominant ideologies.
The question that this presentation will also try to answer is the extent to which Iraqi archaeological authorities drew practical lessons from the painful past events insofar as the preservation of Mesopotamian antiquities is concerned.
The Out of the Ashes lecture series is generously supported by Sean and Sarah Reynolds.