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Baghdad's Museums Robbed of Invaluable Historical and Archaeological Relics

The world famous National Museum of Iraq's antiquities in Baghdad has been robbed of thousands of invaluable historical and archaeological relics belonging to the most ancient Sumer civilisation and other periods of Mesopotamian history, the NBC company reported on Monday with reference to well-known US orientalist McGuire Gibson of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the University of Chicago, Illinois.

Looters ransacked displays, burned documents and inventories stored at the museum. They reached the underground vaults with the most valuable relics, such as the alabaster Uruk vase made five thousand years ago, and the world famous 5,500-year old White Lady sculpture considered to be the world's most ancient statue.

The Baghdad museum also possessed a unique collection of golden articles and jewellery from the tombs of Assyrian queens in Nimrud. The treasures were transferred to the vaults of the Iraq Central Bank in Baghdad. However, the bank was looted as well, Gibson reports.

Before the US military operation in Iraq Gibson visited the Pentagon three times notifying the US military officials of the valuable unique collections of Baghdad's museums, the scientist said. A delegation of museum staff, scientists and collectors held similar meetings with the Pentagon officials urging the United States to do what it takes to protect the world's treasure. This January the American Archaeological Institute called upon the US Government to protect the cultural relics during the forthcoming military conflict. Unfortunately, the United States failed to prevent looting at Baghdad's museums.

The damage to the world's collections is by all means colossal, Gibson admits. Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist of the University of Boston agrees with his colleague. He believes the loss of such unique exhibits is "a wide-scale catastrophe."

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