Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Babylon's history swept away in US army sandbags

BABYLON, Iraq (AFP) — Fragments of bricks, engraved with cuneiform characters thousands of years old, lie mixed with the rubble and sandbags left by the US military on the ancient site of Babylon in Iraq.

In this place, one of the cradles of civilisation, US troops in 2003-2004 built embankments, dug ditches and spread gravel to hold the fuel reservoirs needed to supply the heliport of Camp Alpha.

Today, archaeologists say a year of terracing work and 18 months of military presence, with tanks and helicopters, have caused irreparable damage. The Americans remained five months in Babylon and then handed over to the Poles who pulled out 16 months later.

Hands on hips, and wearing a seemingly permanent air of dismay, Maithem Hamza, director of the -- totally empty -- museum on the site, points to the soil: "Look at this land, it is packed with remnants. They filled their bags with them."...


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