Antiquities and Archaeology News Iraq

Ancient Babylonian bricks stolen in Iraq

Size of theft much greater than previously announced

The Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Photo: Flickr user Elias Rovielo

Four hundred fragments of bricks from Babylon’s Ishtar Gate and Processional Way have been stolen. The local Iraqi press reported the loss of 33 pieces last October, but in February the minister of tourism and antiquities, Liwa Sumaism, gave the much higher figure. These came from the Nebuchadnezzar Museum, at the entrance to the city founded in 575BC. The blue-glazed bricks have golden images of bulls, lions and dragons. Excavated from 1900 onwards by German archaeologists, many of the bricks with images were taken to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Part of the structure was reconstructed by Saddam Hussein with modern replicas.

The Nebuchadnezzar Museum was closed and sealed for protection just before the 2003 invasion and some of the displayed items were taken to the National Museum in Baghdad. The stolen glazed bricks most likely came from a storeroom of the Nebuchadnezzar Museum. A criminal investigation is underway. Speaking to Baghdad’s Al-Bayan newspaper, Sumaism said that archaeological sites and museums need another 1,000 extra guards to ensure security.

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