Looting of Iraq's Antiquities Still Common (Donny George Interviewed)





Three kinds of looters raided Iraq's museums, said the man in charge of Iraq's collection of antiquities--common criminals, collectors, and many who had inside knowledge of the museums.

Iraq's archeological heritage remains at risk, according to Dr. Donny George, director of the Iraq Museum and chairman of Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. Violence in the country has made even the daily commute a life or death situation.


Not long ago, George did not worry when he traveled back and forth between home and his office in Baghdad. Now when he commutes, there is no guarantee he will reach his destination.


"When I go the office," George told KCBS's Mike Pulsipher, "I tell you the truth. I won't know that I'll reach the office or not. On coming back, I won't know whether I reach home or not. It's like that. You might be in an incident or you might be attacked. Nobody knows."


In those uncertain circumstances, the country's museums are not secure, and even trusted museum officials become suspect as the country's heritage disappears under the fog of war.


"In full darkness, they went through one large room," he said describing how investigators recreated a recent theft.


"They went to the second room, turned right, then at the end turned left, went through some boxes that were there and got the most small and precious material that we have there," said George. "So this is a group that we believe they had some good knowledge from inside."


But Baghdad is his home, and George said no amount of violence can keep him away from his family.




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