There has been a slew of media coverage in the UK and elsewhere on the reported destruction by agents of the Islamic State (ISIS) of the unequalled archaeological site of Nimrud in Iraq. While many of the reliefs, wall paintings and a number of the mythical winged bull gatekeepers are kept out of harm’s way in London’s British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, a number of important features of the buildings (not to mention the walls and remains of the site itself) remain in situ. A great outcry has ensued, and for good reason, notably from UNESCO and from Iraq’s ministry of tourism and antiquities.
We had earlier reported on the responses to the issue of looting of Iraqi and Syrian cultural objects in three contexts: British, American and Swiss. Whether it is the destruction or the illicit trade of antiquities, there is much to bemoan about what is going on in Iraq and Syria at the moment – on a human scale, of course, but also at the level of cultural heritage protection.