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H-Museum - The Iraq : The cradle of civilization at risk

H-MUSEUM's Current Focus

Iraq - The cradle of civilization at risk

Cultural heritage and historical monuments

Introduction |  Iraq News Digests | Selected Articles & Documents
Journals & Magazines | Museums/Collections/Institutions
Online Resources

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[first edited: March 21, 2003]

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Nimrud, Iraq

The current focus looks from a cultural and historical perspective at present developments concerning the military conflict in Iraq. Included are also special editions of the News Digest part 1, 2, 3, which contains articles from the time of the first Gulf War to the present dealing with the historical monuments, archaeological sites, and museums in Iraq. The editorial staff thanks Dr. Margrit Sollbach-Papeler, a historian with special interest in and detailed knowledge of the ancient civilizations and historical places of the Near East.

Iraq is a country with a rich history. A great number of monuments of the history of civilization, archaeological sites, and museums are situated on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and in other areas. Already in 1990/1991, during the first Gulf War, these historical monuments and other places of historical importance were put at direct risk by military action as well as by the abuse as Iraqi military positions. The war in Iraq in 2003 again exposes these historical monuments and other places of historical interest to great danger. War always carries with it not only suffering and misery for the population but also always hurts the cultural and historical evidence.

Ur, IraqPresent-day Iraq occupies the greater part of the ancient land of Mesopotamia, the plain between Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Some of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations were developed in this area. Therefore the region is often referred to as the cradle of mankind. Present-day Iraq possesses a huge amount of historical monuments and archaeological sites, e. g. Niniveh, the seat of government of the 7th century BC king Assurbarnipal; Ur (see picture), where the Sumerian civilization had its final flowering at the close of the 3rd millennium BC and where according to the Bible Abraham was born; Uruk, the scene of the Gilgamesh Epic; the Parthian desert city of Hatra, which is on the UNESCO’s list of cultural world heritage; Assur, the first capital of the Assyrian kingdom with the famous Ishtar temple; and Babylon, in the 18th century BC the seat of king Hammurabi, who is primarily remembered for his codification of the laws governing Babylonian life ( Codex Hammurabi).

SamarraExperts estimate that there are about 100,000 sites of cultural and historical importance in Iraq ( Iraq Site Map), most of them not yet excavated; about 10,000 are known. However, the cultural heritage of Iraq is primarily Arabic. One of these famous Islamic monuments is the 55 meters high spiraling minaret of the great mosque in Samarra (see picture), built in 850 AD. In addition this land is the home of the three world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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H-Museum News Digests

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Selected Articles & Documents

Protection of cultural property

Declarations / Statements

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Journals and Magazines

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Museums / Collections / Institutions

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Selected Online Resources

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Authors: Ralf Blank M.A. / Dr. Stephanie Marra / Dr. Margit Sollbach-Papeler
Title: Iraq - The cradle of civilization at risk (H-Museum's Current Focus)
URL: http://www.h-net.org/~museum/iraq.html
E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu
First edited: March 21, 2003
Last update: May 10, 2003


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