08 MAY 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—On Monday, May 14th at 6:00 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology offers a special free program, What is Happening Today in Iraq and Afghanistan?, a timely update on cultural heritage and cultural property issues in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Richard Zettler, Curator-in-charge, Near East Section, Penn Museum, and Dr. Fredrik Hiebert of the National Geographic Society, a Research Associate at Penn Museum, share their perspectives at this program, co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies and the Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania:
Iraq’s Ancient Past in the Chaos of the Present
Dr. Richard Zettler
Curator-in-charge, Near East Section, Penn Museum;
Associate Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Four years ago in April 2003, as Coalition Forces entered Baghdad in Operation Iraqi Freedom, mobs vandalized and looted Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad, as well as regional museums, decimating the country’s cultural heritage and inflicting an incalculable loss on the human story. Though the destruction was not as enormous as initial news reports suggested, the damage was nevertheless significant. But perhaps even more serious over the long run, in the military occupation and civil disorder that followed the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, standing monuments were stressed and the country’s archaeological sites looted on an industrial scale. Iraq’s Ancient Past in the Chaos of the Present will review what is now known about the damages to Iraq cultural heritage institutions in the chaos of mid-April 2003, as well as the stresses recently suffered by standing monuments and archaeological sites, as it will attempt to put these cultural heritage horrors into a long-term perspective going back some three decades to the time of the Iran-Iraq War and the First Gulf War.
Update on the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage
Dr. Fredrik Hiebert
National Geographic Society;
Research Associate, Penn Museum
Fredrik Hiebert has been actively focusing on cultural heritage preservation in Afghanistan since the downfall of the Taliban in 2003. He helped to organize and document the opening of boxes of Kabul Museum artifacts that had been secretly hidden by the curators of the Kabul museum 25 years ago. Since 2003, cultural heritage safe- guarding has become a major issue in Afghanistan. What does the future hold for Afghanistan's 5,000-yea- old civilization? How are cultural heritage efforts being received in Afghanistan? And what is the world doing to help?
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at http://www.penn.museum.