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Legal And Illegal Acquisition Of Antiquities In Iraq, 19th Century To 2003

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Chapter Summary

Mesopotamian antiquities became a focus of international interest in the 19th century, when British and French commercial representatives and diplomats began to explore Iraq, map it, and try to identify sites that were known from biblical and classical sources. Once it became clear that there was a monetary value in antiquities, and that limestone reliefs, for instance, had a greater value as objects to be sold to foreigners than just as a source for lime, local Iraqis began to dig on their own, removing thousands of objects, especially cuneiform tablets, from sites. Especially important were the digging at Babylon and other sites in the south, especially Umma and Drehem, where very ancient layers containing Sumerian material were to be found right at the surface of the mounds rather than meters below, as at Babylon.

Keywords: Drehem; illegal acquisition; Iraqi archaeology; Mesopotamian antiquities; Umma



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