Colonial powers looted it, Saddam Hussein rebuilt it, US and Polish troops made it a military camp, and now Babylon, Iraqis hope, ...May 3, 2009 - By STEVEN LEE MYERS - International / Middle East
It's jarring to read about the opening of an archaeological area after a war and be hit in the face in the middle of the article with an antisemitic slur. So it is, and it becomes the only take-away we get from the report:
...In the 1980s Mr. Hussein ordered the reconstruction of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace and other buildings, using cheap bricks on foundations built 2,600 years ago. Many were stamped with a tribute to the “Protector of Great Iraq” in the way Nebuchadnezzar marked bricks with his own stamp in cuneiform, still visible today.
Archaeologists were appalled, but could hardly complain at the time. Such is not the case with the American and Polish troops who occupied the site from 2003 to 2004. The work they carried out to turn the area into a base, as reported by a British Museum study, provoked international outrage, though the extent of the damage is a matter of debate and perspective.
One thing officials agree on is blaming the Americans. Mr. Rashid, in a conspiratorial and anti-Semitic vein, suggested that Jews stationed with the Polish troops might have deliberately singled out the site because of their captivity in Babylon. The director of the ruins, Maryam Musa, who has worked in Babylon for 30 years, said the damage could never be repaired or adequately compensated for.
Asked who did worse by Babylon, Mr. Hussein or the Americans, however, she became taciturn. “Is it necessary to ask such a question?” she said uncomfortably, and declined to answer...