In April of 2003, the world watched in shock as news broadcasts reported on the break in and the looting of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad. Priceless antiquities, spanning ten thousand years of human history, were torn out from their glass cases, statues were thrown to the floor and smashed, and remains of temples and royal palaces were broken into pieces. The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad is a reconstruction in book form of one of the world's largest and most important museums, which will never be the same again. Focusing on the objects housed at the museum and collected over decades of painstaking archaeological research and study, the book traces the rich tapestry of the history of ancient Mesopotamia from its earliest prehistory to the advent of Islam. Iraq is a country of firsts: the earliest villages, cities, writing, poetry, epic literature, temples, codified religion, armies, warfare, world economy and empire. The archaeological artefacts that were looted represent our collective history and help us understand how our civilizations first began and then evolved. The looting of archaeological sites continues to this day, and has spawned a large illicit trade in stolen artefacts. Told through the art, artefacts, and writings that were lost recently in Iraq, this fascinating history of the civilizations of the Near East is sure to be a timeless and enduring book.
At once heartbreaking and inspiring, this remarkable art book seeks to document what was lost when 15,000 objects at Baghdad's Iraq Museum were lost in the 2003 war and the ongoing art destruction. Treasures like the beautiful carved-ivory Mona Lisa of Nimrud survived ten centuries, only to fall victim to chaos and looters, some sent by international art dealers. The scholar authors show that the loss isn't local, it's everybody's. Iraq saw the birth of cities, epic verse, and codified religion; the lions guarding the New York Public Library are esthetic descendants of the smashed terracotta masterpieces of Baghdad. The book is a quickie history course, with 190 handsome color illustrations. Editorially, it's a bit rushed and confusing. But look: these aren't ivory-tower scholars, they're heroes putting themselves on the line to save humanity’s legacy. One had to be rescued from kidnappers with the help of Muqtada al-Sadr. Part of what you pay for the book goes to reconstruct the museum, and the book itself constitutes a kind of virtual museum preserving some works that are lost, and some that will be relocated, in part because it exists. --Tim Appelo