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The COVID-19 pandemic led to a sharp rise in the number of archaeological site lootings in Iraq

The economic crisis caused by coronavirus has forced citizens to start pillaging ancient heritage sites.

Ruins in the Town of Ur, Southern Iraq
Foto: Ruins in the Town of Ur, Southern Iraq
Source: Wikipedia

According to the study of 2005-2010, just the territory of the Iraqi province of Dhi-Qar alone has around 1200 archaeological sites. Almost all of them, in the words of Iraqi archaeologists, are constantly subjected to devastation by looters. In the last few decades, after the implementation of economic sanctions by the UN Security Council, there has been a steep increase in the number of lootings. The government and religious leaders took measures to mitigate this state of affairs.

However, the outbreak of coronavirus in the beginning of 2020 has significantly exacerbated the economic situation in the country. Impoverished local residents try to find gold or statues on archaeological sites and in so doing destroy buildings and clay articles, which in their eyes have lesser value. For many, this is simply a way of making some money while the country's economy lies in ruins. The obtained artifacts are usually sent to Jordan or Turkey, eventually settling in private collections around the world.

Experts doubt that Iraqi authorities, who are experiencing financial hardship, will in the near future be able to set up an effective defense of heritage sites.

Source: Middle East Eye

Evgeniy Saunin, 14 October 2020, 21:45

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