National Geographic : 2003 Nov
Forum July 2003 Henry Wright's three-pageessay on the looting of the IraqMuseum in Baghdad, "An Archaeologist's Lament," generated more mail than any other Geographicapiece in the magazine's history (in this issue, only the feature story "AnimalAttraction" provoked a bigger response). More than a third of these letters questioned Wright's estimates of the number of artifactslost. Read on for an update. Geographica: Iraq's Lost Antiquities While the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad is unfor tunate, I dislike people like Henry Wright, who place most of the blame on the coalition forces rather than on the Iraqi people themselves. While Wright acknowledges that there were "frenzied mobs of looters" and a possible "plot by art thieves," he and others never seem to con demn the Iraqis who totally dis regarded the significance of their national museum and stole from the building for profit. CLARKE M. BRANDT Aurora, Colorado You report that tens of thou sands of artifacts disappeared from the museum. One news paper says a few dozen are miss ing. Whom should we believe? LEROY McCAMPBELL Palmyra, Virginia MEMBERSHIP Please call 1-800 -NGS-LINE (1-800 -647-5463). Special device for the hearing-impaired (TDD) 1-800 -548-9797. Online: nationalgeographic.com/ngm AOL Keyword: NatGeoMag Online index: nationalgeographic.com/ publications The total number of items taken from the Iraq Museum duringthe looting remains uncertain.Of the 14 objects we highlighted, eight are still unaccountedfor. Several dozen high-profile sculptures and heads of statues that were removed from the museum's gal leries aregoneforever, Wright and other experts believe. A notable exception: The famous Warka vase was returned, albeit in pieces. Thousands of less well-known objects have also been returned or seized on their way out of the country, but that leaves thousands of other artifactsstill missing,inclu ding as of this writing the muse um's collection of close to 5,000 cylinder seals, small masterpieces that reveal much about religion and life in ancientMesopotamia. Three Peaks Challenge I can't remember when I laughed so much reading a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article. It was so refreshing. The magazine needs more T. R. Reids and Joel Sar tores! I'd do a round of miniature golf with these guys any day. MARIE COLBY Eugene, Oregon Thanks for the entertaining article. It made my day. My leg muscles ached just reading about NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * NOVEMBER 2003 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increase and diffusion of geographicknowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C ., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 7,000 explorations and research projects, adding to knowledge of earth, sea, and sky. JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., PresidentandCEO Executive Vice Presidents TERRENCE B. ADAMSON LINDA BERKELEY, President,Enterprises TERRY D. GARCIA, Mission Programs JOHN Q. GRIFFIN, President,Magazine Group NINA D. HOFFMAN, President,Books and School PublishingGroup CHRISTOPHER A. LIEDEL, CFO BOARD OF TRUSTEES GILBERT M. GROSVENOR, Chairman REG MURPHY, Vice Chairman JOAN ABRAHAMSON, WILLIAM L. ALLEN, MARTHA E. CHURCH, MICHAEL COLLINS, ROGER A. ENRICO, JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., DANIEL S.GOLDIN, JOHN JAYISELIN, JAMES C. KAUTZ, J. WILLARD MARRIOTT, JR, FLORETTA DUKES McKENZIE, PATRICK F. NOONAN, NATHANIEL P. REED, WILLIAM K. REILLY, ROZANNE L. RIDGWAY, JAMES R. SASSER, B. FRANCIS SAUL II, GERD SCHULTE-HILLEN TRUSTEES EMERITUS Joe L. Allbritton, Thomas E. Bolger, Frank Borman, Lewis M. Branscomb, Robert L. Breeden, Lloyd H. Elliott, George M. Elsey, William Graves, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Laurance S. Rockefeller, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Frederick G. Vosburgh COUNCIL OF ADVISORS Roger A. Enrico, Chairman; Michael R. Bonsignore, Howard G. Buffett, Craig D. Campbell, Juliet C. Folger, Robert A. Hefner III, Samuel C. Johnson, Bruce L. Ludwig, Sally Engelhard Pingree, W. Russell Ramsey, Edward P. Roski, Jr., Alice Rogoff Rubenstein, B. Francis Saul II,Garry A. Weber RESEARCH AND EXPLORATION COMMITTEE Peter H. Raven, Chairman; John M. Francis, Vice Chairman and Executive Director; RichardS. Williams, Jr., Vice Chairman; Martha E. Church, Scott V. Edwards, William L. Graf, Nancy Knowlton, Dan M. Martin, Scott E. Miller, Jan Nijman, Stuart L. Pimm, Elsa M. Redmond, William H. Schlesinger, Bruce D. Smith, Hans-Dieter Sues, Henry T. Wright, Patricia C. Wright EXPLORERS-IN -RESIDENCE Robert Ballard, Wade Davis, Sylvia Earle, Zahi Hawass, Louise Leakey, Meave Leakey, Johan Reinhard, Paul Sereno Conservation Fellow: J. Michael Fay CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS-IN RESIDENCE Sam Abell, Annie Griffiths Belt, David Doubilet, Karen Kasmauski, Emory Kristof, Frans Lanting MISSION PROGRAMS Development: Jacqueline M. Hollister. Education Foundation: Barbara A. Chow. Exhibits: Susan S. Norton. Expeditions Council: Rebecca Martin. Geography Bee: Mary Lee Elden. Lectures: P. Andrew van Duym, Gregory A. McGruder School Publishing: Ericka Markman, Sr. Vice President. International: Robert W. Hemhndez, Sr. Vice President. Human Resources: Thomas A. Sabl6, Sr. Vice President. Communications: Betty Hudson, Sr. Vice President. Treasurer: H. Gregory Platts, Sr. Vice President NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURES DENNIS R. PATRICK, Presidentand CEO Television: Timothy T. Kelly,President. National Geographic Channel: David Haslingden, President, International;Laureen Ong, President, U.S . Contributions to the National Geographic Society are tax deductible under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S . tax code. 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