February 11, 2013
In an interview with the daily newspaper Al-Bayan, published February 5th, 2013, the Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Liwaa Sumaisem, discussed the current challenges historical and archeological sites face especially the limited number of guards to prevent vandalism and looting.
In a detailed interview with the newspaper, the minister stated that among the largest recorded museum robberies is that of the Babylonian Museum (Nebuchadnezzar Museum) where 400 glazed pieces were stolen. He added that the authorities are still investigating the incident.
The robbery took place in mid October of last year, 2012. The initial reports published in Iraqi newspapers indicated that the museum lost about 33 objects depicting the mythical creature Mushussu of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Initial reports also confirmed that the robbery took place while the museum was surrounded by guards. In this interview, however, the Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities revealed that the number of the stolen objects was much higher.
The minister used that robbery case to indicate the importance of providing adequate security to protect these ancient sites. He confirmed that the police departments in several Iraqi provinces responded to the ministry’s request, and have been providing guards to protect the ancient sites. Unfortunately, the number of these guards is not sufficient.
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