University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Cultural Heritage Project in Iraq - Part One


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Film Description:In April 2009, Dr. Brian Rose, Deputy Director of the Penn Museum was invited by the State Department to help coordinate cultural preservation efforts in Iraq. Along with a team of army specialists and other cultural experts, Dr. Rose visited several cultural heritage sites across the country that experienced significant damage during the recent wars. Among these sites was the ancient city of Ur, known as the cradle of civilization and the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. Here, we are guided through the Ziggurat of Ur built by Ur-Nammu in 2100 BCE. The site is also said to be the birthplace of the biblical Abraham although there is no archaeological evidence to support this claim. In 2000, Saddam Hussein built a modern "House of Abraham" out of cement in hopes that the Pope would visit on the Anniversary year of the Vatican. The Pope, however, did not come.

Dr. Rose filmed Guide Dhaif Munsen as he revealed some of the facts about the site from its ancient past to recent attempts at renovation and interpretation. Dhaif Munsen's grandfather worked a the excavation site with Sir Leonard Woolley in 1922.

The group also tours the site of the Great Death Pit at the Royal Cemetery of Ur dating from 2500BCE. The site, excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in 1922, yielded the an extraordinary cache of gold and cultural artifacts as well as a dramatic story of human sacrifice. The materials he found, including the headdress of Queen Pu-Abi and a bull-shaped lyre and are the highlights of a new exhibition at the Penn Museum, Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur's Royal Cemetery.
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