Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Wall Street Journal's Sliming of Two Superb Archaeologists

Yesterday's WSJ published a horrendously sourced "report" accusing two prominent archaeologists, John Curtis and Elizabeth Stone, of falsely accusing the US of damaging Babylon and promoting the looting of archaeological sites in Iraq.

FWIW, I posted a response this morning in the piece's comments section:

A new low for the Wall Street Journal, to publish such a thinly sourced piece of garbage. Profs. Stone and Curtis have devoted their lives to the study of Iraq's ancient civilizations, and know as much about them, and about the current state of their remains, as anyone on the planet. Prof. Stone has dedicated the last several years to helping Iraq prepare a new generation of its own archaeologists, assisted by a federal grant (awarded under Bush, not Obama). Furthermore, Curtis and Stone are not the only archaeologists who have weighed in on this matter. Even the most basic Google search would have led Kaylan to other reports, sources, and images. (If he needs some help, have him google "Matthew Bogdanos" - a Marine officer who has been intensely involved in this issue, and who would know a hell of a lot more about it than Chaplain Marrero; or "Warka vase" - a famous stone vase, dating ca. 3200 BCE, broken during the looting of the Baghdad Museum; or "Isin" - an important site for which one can find post-2003 images of looters smiling for the camera. I, or anyone else who studies Ancient Iraq, could go on and on.)

Did Saddam inflict some damage? Yes. But the fact of the matter is that the 2003 invasion opened the floodgates for looting at a number of sites. Looted objects have appeared on eBay and elsewhere. Reports of attempts to smuggle collections out of Iraq appear regularly in the mainstream press.

Profs. Stone and Curtis have been working tirelessly to counter this damage. Iraq and the world owe them a debt of gratitude. Instead, the WSJ publishes a slanderous report that attempts to slime their reputation, based on the thinnest of sources - i.e., one Marine Chaplain, who spent only 3 months at Babylon, and who represents an organization called "Faith Walk" (gosh, no agenda there).

I might suggest that the WSJ repudiate Kaylan's "report" and publish instead a letter of apology - and even an expression of gratitude - to Drs. Curtis and Stone.

No comments:


Blog Archive

Cluster map

Search This Blog

ICAHD - 18,000 Homes Campaign (large banner)