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June 24, 2004

Qui custodiet ipsos custodes

It almost seems perverse to be worrying about ancient artifacts buried in the sands for millennia when citizens are dying by the score in the streets of Iraq, but the irony is to poignant to ignore. As reported on NPR this morning (and, seemingly, nowhere else), the US Army, deployed to Babylon to protect its ancient temple area from the looters who surfaced after the fall of Saddam, is now systematically destroying the site. This includes scooping up most of the archeologically rich sand and dumping it into sandbags.

So, it seems, the proctectors have, in a way, become looters themselves, in much the same way the saviours of Abu Ghraib became torturers. Let's just hope the leader of the free world doesn't likewise turn into "despised international despot".

Posted by david at June 24, 2004 10:57 AM | TrackBack
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I put my head down on my desk and cried when the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan buddhas. A long time ago in India, I stood at the feet of a similar buddha in the Himalayas, and later, when I went to college, my additional art history credits where in Asian art. So every time I hear of the destruction of artifacts - the museum lootings, the blatant disregard of cultural history, and now the sandbagging of Iraq, I take it really personally. And it always makes me cry. Our relationship with art is part of what makes us human. Or inhuman.

Posted by: pam on June 24, 2004 11:24 AM
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