The Devastation of Iraq’s Past

Iraq Archeological Site

In early June 2008, the British Museum and the British Army (Multinational Division), with the full support of the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq, undertook a unique joint project to assess damage at a number of archaeological sites in southern Iraq. (via MetaFilter)

In The Buried Book, his recent account of the rediscovery of The Epic of Gilgamesh, David Damrosch observes that the poem portrays Gilgamesh as one of the great kings of Sumer by emphasizing his accomplishments as “custodian of ancient cities and monuments that have to be maintained and repaired.” Indeed, in the prologue of the epic, the poet describes the story he is about to tell as an artifact of the past, to be discovered—as in fact it was by archaeologists in the nineteenth century—and carefully preserved:
[See] the tablet-box of cedar
[release] its clasp of bronze.

[Lift] the lid of its secret
[pick] up the tablet of lapis lazuli and read out
the travails of Gilgamesh, all that he went through…

The example of Gilgamesh was forgotten in 2003, and we may never know how many other such “secrets” have been lost as a result.


News Round-Up

Stories from the past week that stood out.

July 17

July 21

Serious Soldier

July 22

John and Cindy McCain

July 23

  • Cindy McCain robot gets new head.
  • Well, I called the Obama campaign several weeks ago and said that I’d like to go and my invitation has apparently been lost in the mail.
  • “What I’m afraid of is that if Sen. McCain picks one more relatively boring, normal, mainstream Republican white guy… he just makes the ticket seem boring compared to the level of energy and drive and excitement that Obama has.”
  • Blackwater affiliate Greystone Ltd, registered offshore in Barbados, is an old-fashioned mercenary operation offering “personnel from the best militaries throughout the world” for hire by governments and private organisations. It also boasts of a “multi-national peacekeeping programme,” with forces “specialising in crowd control and less than lethal techniques and military personnel for the less stable areas of operation.”
  • The political controversy that has swirled around Pastor Hagee reminds me of one of the unique lessons in the Bible about leadership. In Greek mythology, the leaders were flawless and virtual demi-gods. It was impossible for mere mortals to try to emulate them. The heroes of the Bible, however, are humans, great humans, but with human failings.

Obama,Tiergarten, Berlin

July 24

Ex-Gay Billboard

July 25

  • “Obviously one is interested in a candidate looking towards the future rather than the past.”
  • The entire world drafted an open letter to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) today, asking him to drop out of the U.S. presidential race and concede the presidency to Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois).
  • White House gave FOX commentators talking points.
  • “For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice.”
  • ACLU releases three new documents on the government’s torture program. “If a defendant acts with good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent. A defendant acts in good faith when he has an honest belief that his actions will not result in severe pain or suffering…Although an honest belief need not be reasonable, such a belief is easier to establish where there is reasonable basis for it.”
  • “He got up there in front of 200,000 people and he glommed on to one of the most ridiculous and one of the hateful stereotypes about America, which is that we torture. The fact that he did that on foreign soil I think is absolutely atrocious.”

Banksy, American Influence

July 26

Karl Rove

July 27

News Round-Up

Sam Javanrouh: Yonge street, north of Eglinton

A selection of headlines from the last week or so, give-or-take, that grabbed our attention:

June 7

June 12

June 27

June 29

July 1

July 2

July 3

July 9

July 10

July 11

July 12

July 13