By Magnus T. Bernhardsson

The looting of the Iraqi nationwide Museum in April of 2003 provoked an international outcry on the lack of artefacts considered as a part of humanity's shared cultural patrimony. yet although the losses have been exceptional in scale, the museum looting used to be rarely the 1st time that Iraqi heirlooms have been plundered or positioned to political makes use of. From the start of archaeology as a latest technology within the 19th century, Europeans excavated and appropriated Iraqi antiquities as relics of the start of Western civilization. considering that Iraq was once created in 1921, the trendy nation has used archaeology to forge a connection to the traditional civilizations of Mesopotamia and/or Islamic empires and so construct a feeling of nationhood between Iraqis of differing spiritual traditions and ethnicities.This e-book delves into the ways in which archaeology and politics intertwined in Iraq through the British Mandate and the 1st years of nationhood prior to global warfare II. Magnus Bernhardsson starts off with the paintings of British archaeologists who carried out broad excavations in Iraq and despatched their reveals to the museums of Europe. He then strains how Iraqis' turning out to be feel of nationhood led them to confront the British over antiquities legislations and the department of archaeological reveals among Iraq and international excavators. He indicates how Iraq's keep an eye on over its archaeological patrimony was once at once tied to the stability of political strength and the way it elevated as energy shifted to the Iraqi executive. ultimately he examines how Iraqi leaders, together with Saddam Hussein, have used archaeology and background to legitimize the country and its political activities.

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Additional info for Reclaiming a Plundered Past: Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq

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This apocalyptic feature became clearly evident in early 1821 or at the same time, when the first British archaeologists were making their first surveys in Mesopotamia. The London art scene became aghast at EARLY EXCAVATIONS IN MESOPOTAMIA 29 the display of a new, titanic painting by John Martin called Belshazzar’s Feast. ) Martin’s Belshazzar’s Feast places the story amidst a staggering and exotic architectural setting. 37 There is an enormous central atrium bordered by two rows of columns supporting the hanging gardens above them.

However, there was a division between the painting’s popular appeal and the artistic establishment’s response. The most important artists of the Royal Academy, such as the critic Charles Lamb, who found Belshazzar’s Feast vulgar and bombastic, remained indifferent or even hostile to Martin. 39 Therefore, at the time when apocalyptic landscape became a central element in the artistic sentiment, archaeologists—themselves the products of the new scientific empiricism and the age of classification and progress—traveled to the land associated with apocalypticism to literally unearth its history in a relatively systematic scientific manner.

Material things, such as buildings and statues, vestiges of the past, were now clues that would provide for the re-creation of the past. Consequently, scholars demystified history, as its sources were no longer limited to the Bible or Classical works, and were made more tangible. In this process, history became property, in a sense, since it was no longer solely a text but a physical entity that could be owned as well. A person did not only belong to history; history belonged to him or her. The appearance of objects and things as viable sources for historical interpretation epitomizes this development.

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