09 June 2007

"The hanging gardens of Halliburton"

Babylon is being turned into an archaeological desert.

In an article in the Guardian, Simon Jenkins describes the rape and pillage of the heritage treasures of Iraq under the American occupation. The greatest storehouse of ancient human history faces two assaults: first, the trampling of
archaeological sites by the heavy boot of the American military and, second, the unrestricted looting carried out by thieves operating with impunity in a climate of chaos.

It may seem callous to worry about artifacts -- mere things -- when tens of thousands of people are dying and millions are turned into refugees, but we aren't talking about any old archaeological dig here. This is the birthplace of our civilization. This is where intensive agriculture began, where the first city states arose, where written language and arithmetic were invented along with the wheel and the plough, where time was first measured with clocks and 12-month calendars, and where the first codified systems of law and administration were developed.

We are witnessing one of the greatest acts of vandalism in history. And as trivial as vandalism may be relative to human suffering, this one is nonetheless a crime against all of us.

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