Letter: Don't Let the Threat of Strikes Stop Archaeological Rescue in Iraq

Article excerpt

Sir: American determination to launch a military campaign against Iraq seems to be gathering momentum. Might I draw attention to a parallel danger in the region?

There is a real prospect of a massive man-made flood submerging sites of great archaeological importance. At the onset of the Gulf War some of us warned of the danger posed by military operations in places such as Babylon, the biblical Ur of the Chaldees and other sites of world renown. Now the treasure trove of antiquities that lies between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates is at risk.

A continual reduction in the flow of the Tigris and the consequent dam project which the Iraqis are completing at Makhul threatens to submerge Assur, the old capital of the mighty Assyrian empire. Although it may take five years for the natural reservoir to fill, this is a desperately short time in terms of scientifically conducted archaeology, Expert teams are needed on site now. …