Just a few years ago, the world watched in dismay as ISIS/Daesh publicly and ostentatiously destroyed or damaged structures from ancient Mesopotamia, artefacts in Mosul Museum, and Palmyra’s ancient Roman Tetrapylon and Roman theatre in today’s Syria. At the time, Marina Gabriel, from the American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives (ASOR CHI), is reported to have said, ‘This destruction is almost unprecedented in recent history, and is particularly devastating for a region with extensive history that has impacted the world.’
Watching Notre Dame go up in flames this week manifested similar feelings of a sense of loss, though clearly a fire probably through neglect is different to destruction through a baleful ideology. What is interesting, however, is that a handful of days before the Paris fire, reports emerged from Iraq that the third-century Persian Taq Kasra had partially collapsed. Seemingly similar to Notre Dame, claim critics, neglect of some sort seems to be the reason.
Located not far from Baghdad, the former palace of Taq Kasra is said to be the ‘world's largest brickwork vault’ and a singular architectural structure. On a website dedicated to the ancient monument, Netherlands-based Pejman Akbarzadeh, who in 2018 made a documentary about the site, alleges that Czech conservationists were not quite the experts they appeared and did more harm than good. In this BBC interview (right), Akbarzadeh talks about his film.
Commentators and the general public rightly feel great pain at the loss of irreplaceable artefacts in the Notre Dame fire, and the Iraqi government joined other countries in writing to France to offer heartfelt condolence at the devastation the fire caused. Such solidarity is genuine and understandable, particularly from a country that has suffered so much over so many decades.
Critics, however, are asking why the Iraqi government is not doing more to protect its own – extensive – cultural treasures, such as Taq Kasra. On the one hand, it’s difficult to be overly critical of Iraqi authorities who are struggling to adequate provide water and electricity for all its citizens. On the other, there’s hardly a country in the world that matches Iraq for corruption.
And while such a state continues, the country’s hugely significant cultural legacy continues to decay.
- April 2019
- Mar 8, 2019 Passport decision time Mar 8, 2019
- February 2019
- Jan 28, 2019 Book Review: The Unravelling. High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq Jan 28, 2019
- Jan 15, 2019 Book review - John Robertson, Iraq. A History Jan 15, 2019
- Jan 1, 2019 Poverty Safari, Darren McGarvey Jan 1, 2019
- Dec 28, 2018 Iraqi artist recreates 3D ancient cities Dec 28, 2018
- Nov 28, 2018 Ireland: Waterford and the King of the Vikings Nov 28, 2018
- Nov 27, 2018 Spotlight: Pakistan Nov 27, 2018
- Nov 12, 2018 Business Spotlight: Israel Nov 12, 2018
- Nov 10, 2018 Business Spotlight magazine: South Korea Nov 10, 2018
- Nov 2, 2018 Thousands of dead fish ... the rivers of Babylon Nov 2, 2018
- Nov 1, 2018 Lacrosse interview – German and US players in Munich Nov 1, 2018
- Oct 31, 2018 Book review: Alan Rusbridger, Breaking News. The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now Oct 31, 2018
- Oct 26, 2018 Food: Sababa, Munich's best falafal restaurant Oct 26, 2018
- Oct 19, 2018 CSU loss is a Green gain Oct 19, 2018
- Oct 18, 2018 Gozo's Ta Tumasa & hints of the Middle East Oct 18, 2018
- Oct 18, 2018 The Price of Plastic - For One Turtle Oct 18, 2018
- Oct 14, 2018 Visit Malta, stay on Gozo Oct 14, 2018