On April 10, 2003, as the world watched a statue of Saddam Hussein come crashing down in the heart of Baghdad, looters attacked the Iraq National Museum. Despite the presence of an American tank unit, the pillaging went unchecked, and more than 15,000 artifacts – some of the oldest evidence of human culture – disappeared into the shadowy worldwide market in illicit antiquities. Since then the losses of antiquities in Iraq have increased, and include half a million artifacts that had previously been unexcavated.
This book contains the first full published account of the disasters that have befallen Iraq's cultural heritage after the removal of Saddam Hussein. It analyzes why the array of laws and international conventions, the advocacy efforts of cultural heritage organizations, and the military planning and implementation of cultural protection operations all failed, and continue to fail, to prevent massive and irreversible loss.