Letter: Lost Treasures
Roper, Dr Geoffrey, The Independent (London, England)
Sir: The ordinary cliches of condemnation seem inadequate when contemplating the enormity of what has been done to the cultural, literary and historical heritage of Iraq, the Arabs and the whole civilised world through the destruction of the National Museum, National Library and other museums and libraries in Iraq.
The obvious avoidability of these crimes truly makes us weep. This was not an uncontrollable civil war, but a carefully planned invasion and occupation by the most powerful nation in world history. Yet they evidently thought little or nothing of overseeing the pillage and destruction of thousands of unique written texts and works of art from one of world's primary sources of historic knowledge and wisdom.
The importance of the Islamic manuscript heritage alone can hardly be overstated. Robert Fisk, in his report on 15 April, mentioned the burning of the library in the Ministry of Religious Endowments. This contained more than 5,000 Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts, including fine illuminated Korans and many other priceless items, including early, unique and autograph copies of important works of Arabic and Islamic literature and scholarship. …