History, traditions

Russian Culture Minister Intends to Convince USA to Preserve Iraq Archeological Heritage - 31 March, 2003

Russian Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi on Monday intends to meet with US Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Vershbow with the aim of preventing the destruction by the allied forces in Iraq of the archeological heritage and monuments of culture. Mikhail Shvydkoi said this in a RIA Novosti interview, underscoring that the present situation calls for such steps.

"We are ready to give the Americans all the lists of the monuments of culture and the schemes of the location of the architectural site to be saved from bombings," said the minister.

Incidentally, the place where the war is now going on is a prototype of the Eden described in the Bible.

Last week the minister sent a letter to the UNESCO Director General, in which he expressed the hope that the UNESCO would do everything it can to preserve architectural monuments of world significance in Iraq.

The Russian Culture Minister suggested that the UNESCO Director General form a Supervisory Council with the participation of well-known international experts to preserve the monuments of culture in Iraq.

At the request of the Russian Culture Ministry, the State Hermitage has drawn up a list of monuments of history and culture which the world may lose due to the military actions in Iraq. This list, consisting of several dozen monuments, includes the palaces of Sumer and Assirya, many of which were found by archaeologists in the past decade and have become monuments.

The scientists regard Baghdad too as an architectural masterpiece. It was founded in 762 by Abaside Caliph Al-Mansur and was the first "round city" in the Middle and Near East, which had been built on the basis of a regular scheme. The Iraqi capital is surrounded by a great number of ancient monuments, to name but a few: the towns of Babylon and Ktesiphon; in the south of the country - the ancient towns of Ur, Uruk, Lagash, Nippur, Vasit, Parsa and Kish. Sixteen tsars' tombs are situated near Al-Nassiriya where tank battles have taken place.

There are also Islamic holy places in Iraq - the Grand Mosque in Samarra. The towns of Al-Najaf and Kerbela, where the son-in-law and nephew of Prophet Muhammed - imam Ali and his son Hussein - are buried, have happened to be in the zone of hostilities.

The list also contains two famous national museums of Iraq - in Baghdad and Basra.

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