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March 31, 2015


Kudos to Stephen! I am trying to decide what I find most appalling. That we are still using the same geographical and artificially created terrain to fight wars on over thousands of years? Or that the primary method of preserving ancient artifacts in these war zones is looting? Tough call.

Geography/topography will determine what happens on the ground, for sure, as it always has. Many of these sites are taken over by the various factions specifically because they offer commanding views and fields of fire. And, of course, the ability to hide amongst innocent people in the cases where an ancient site is inhabited in modern times, like Irbid, Homs, etc. As for the looting aspects of the problem, what really grinds my gears is that the sites that are being looted are the ones that are well known in the West, because the looting is being driven by demand for artifacts from famous places. Your illicit collector of antiquities wants to boast a piece from Hatra or Mosul, or Nineveh, because they carry the prestige of being well known sites. They don't want something from "Limes Arabicus Survey Site # 423" because nobody's ever heard of the place. And my good friend, the late Dr. Donny George, who was responsible for saving the collections at the Baghdad Museum after the last Iraq War, told me that what the looters went after were pieces listed in museum catalogs internationally. So you essentially had illicit collectors placing orders for specific items. Thankfully, Donny was able to hide most of the stuff, as the Iraqis recently did in Mosul. The more you know about this stuff, the more appalling it is.

I have always entertained the strong suspicion that when you wrote something you knew what the hell you were talking about. I'm glad someone is looking at this. Gladder still that technology may reveal hidden sites that may give future archaeologists new sites to explore.

Congratulations for an interesting and well written piece, shsavage. I can remember a grade school teacher telling the class US tank commanders had used ancient artifacts for target practice in WWII. We humans can certainly be a nihilistic bunch.

I have a picture of a Lebanese Army tank dug into the site of Nahar el-Bared in northern Lebanon, firing into the Palestinian refugee camp north of the tell. I've worked in the Middle East for a long time, and have friends on just about every side of every war. It's all very discouraging to me, and I can't see any way beyond it at this point.

Stephen Savage, Space Archaeologist! You win the whole bloody internet with that title. (And where's Frank Frazetta when you need him to paint a portrait like that?)

You'd think that with a NASA Space Archaeology grant I'd be looking for LGM on Europa. Alas, it's a bit more down-to-earth than that. Though I'm still hopeful about Europa...

Indiana Jones my ass. With a name like that he should have his own movie franchise.

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