THAT ANTIQUITIES THING AGAIN: ISIS ALLEGED TO BE SELLING ANTIQUITIES ...June 16, 2015
Regular readers here know of my persisting suspicions about the Baghdad Museum Looting, and that there is something wrong with the story. My hypothesis has been roughly as follows: While US soldiers were allegedly seen entering, and leaving the Museum with crates in tow, speculations abounded it was an "inside job" and that the USA was behind it, as the robbers apparently knew their way around the museum, and exactly where to go. Subsequent official US led recovery efforts supposedly recovered most of the art objects and returned them to Iraq. Such was the story first broken, incidentally, by Germany's Der Spiegel, and subsequently by US Marine Col. Bogdanovich in his book recounting the recovery operation. I have suggested, however, that anyone could dress up in American uniforms and loot the museum, and that it may have been some independent group, or some other nation, trying to pin the blame on the USA. I have pointed out that the field catalogues of archaeological digs were being kept by the German and French teams the Hussein regime had in Iraq digging up the country for him. One crucial aspect of the story that continues to be an unresolved "dangling thread" is the alleged theft of thousands of untranslated cuneiform tablets, some of which allegedly ended up in Spain, and which Spain, for whatever reason, is refusing to return to Iraq.
That, at least, is the story as far as it has evolved to date, and even then, the sources for these various points remain dubious and suspect, being based on relatively obscure and uncorroborated internet stories (which are themselves difficult to track down).
Then, more recently, of course, we have heard the stories of ISIS destroying ancient sites in Iraq and Syria for their "idolatry," a story which itself raises suspicion meters into the red zone, for the Islamic world was present for centuries around these sites, and left them untampered with. Some Islamic scholars even investiated them, and did so with a view to provide perspectives on their own esoetric traditions. So why the sudden change?
One clue might be provided by this article, shared by Mr. T.L.:
Islamic State militants have provoked a global outcry by attacking ancient monuments with jackhammers and bulldozers. But they also have been quietly selling off smaller antiquities from Iraq and Syria, earning millions of dollars in an increasingly organized pillaging of national treasures, according to officials and experts.
The Islamic State has defended its destruction of cultural artifacts by saying they are idolatrous and represent pre-Islamic cultures. Behind the scenes, though, the group’s looting has become so systematic that the Islamic State has incorporated the practice into the structure of its self-
declared caliphate, granting licenses for digging at historic sites through a department of “precious resources.”
One recalls the first appearance of stories of the destruction of ancient artifacts by ISIS, and almost immediately there were suspicions that circulated on the internet that the artifacts that were allegedly destroyed were not genuine at all, but fake. Now The Washington Post is reporting that the sale of antiquities on the black market is being used as a source of funding.
So here comes the high octane speculation: suppose one wanted to mount a covert operation to recover certain antiquities, for whatever reason. How would one guarantee the success of such an operation? First, one does not look for antiquities that are allegedly destroyed, so one "theatrically destroys" a facsimile, and sells (or steals) the genuine item. Secondly, in order to deprive the Islamic world of its own possession and exploration of such antiquities, one would create an "Islamic" cult of a radical nature, denouncing them as idolatry (and hence off limits).
Why go to all the trouble? I suspect most readers here have guessed at my answer: if one is looking for information about possible hidden and ancient technologies, one would want to restrict access to it as much as possible. Eerily, the actions of ISIS seem to fit the requirements to an extraordinary degree. Just as one does not look for people supposedly dead, similarly one does not attempt to recovery an antiquity supposedly destroyed.
See you on the flip side...