Reclaiming a Plundered Past
Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of Texas Press
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During most of 2002 and 2003, Iraq was at the center of world attention and at the heart of an unprecedented international debate. Much of the discussion, prior to the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, focused on whether or not military action against Iraq was justified. Once the war started the focus shifted toward...
1. EARLY EXCAVATIONS IN MESOPOTAMIA
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With its ties to biblical history and the absence of an authority protecting its archaeological sites, the area we now know as Iraq was an attractive destination for European and American archaeologists. The region then called Mesopotamia, a Greek word meaning the land between the two rivers, offered boundless opportunities for the burgeoning new science of...
2. WORLD WAR I AND THE BRITISH OCCUPATION (1900–1921)
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, German excavations dominated the archaeological scene in Mesopotamia. The Germans had several extensive archaeological missions at work in Babylon, Assur, and Samarra. In contrast, the Americans had by this time discontinued their excavations at Nippur, and the British...
3. FROM MESOPOTAMIA TO IRAQ: POLITICS DURING THE MANDATE (1921–1932)
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The adage “to the victors belong the spoils” proved its aptness at the conclusion of World War I. For one of the victors, the British, the downfall of the Ottoman Empire meant that now the British had a chance to acquire precious Mesopotamian antiquities along with assuming political control of the country itself. The citizens of the future state of Iraq essentially became British spoils of war and...
4. MANDATED ARCHAEOLOGY: The Creation of the Museum and the Vibrant Archaeological Scene (1921–1932)
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The new political reality in Iraq was a boom for archaeologists. With sympathetic British administrators overseeing archaeological matters, the conditions were ripe for productive and fruitful research. During the years between 1921 and 1932 all major archaeological excavations were foreign, though antiquities were becoming more institutionalized on the Iraqi political and cultural...
5. INDEPENDENT NATION—INDEPENDENT ARCHAEOLOGY (1932–1941)
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The 1920s had witnessed considerable changes in the Iraqi political landscape and significant institution-building. At the same time, a nascent Iraqi identity was in the early stages of its development. The end of the Mandate era, though, foreshadowed a time of political independence that would place a greater responsibility on Iraqi politicians. In the 1930s, archaeology increasingly entered the...
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The decades after 1941 witnessed a tremendous degree of archaeological activity in Iraq. Iraqi archaeology, like so many features of Iraqi political life, was under the close control of the central government. During these years, the thrust of Iraqi national identity was in flux, in that different historical paradigms and periods were emphasized to legitimize the state and the nation and took their...
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Page Count: 348
Illustrations: 15 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2005