Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Destroyed Iraqi Statues Were Replicas

Here's some good news out of Iraq, for a change. Back in February, Islamic State militants released footage of themselves destroying "priceless ancient statues" at a museum in the city of Mosul. However, it has now been confirmed that most of those artifacts were replicas of the originals, which are safely housed at a museum in Baghdad.

At the time the video was released, some experts noted that the statues in the video crumbled more like plaster than stone, and some appeared to be reinforced with modern metal poles. Also, it makes sense for museum officials to guess Islamic State might try something like this and replace the real statues. Still, now we know for sure.

The terrorist organisation released shocking footage at the end of February purportedly showing jihadis destroying 3,000-year-old artworks with sledgehammers in their northern Iraqi stronghold.

But now Baghdad museum director Fawzye al-Mahdi has ridiculed ISIS' propaganda exercise, claiming the genuine priceless Assyrian and Akkadian statues and sculptures are still safely in his possession in the Iraqi capital, adding that those in Mosul were plaster cast replicas.

Speaking to German news programme Deutsche Welle, Al-Mahdi said: 'None of the artifacts are originals... They were copies. The originals are all here.' The museum director's claims appear to back-up those made by experts on the Iraqi statues.

Within hours of the original ISIS propaganda video being released, analysts questioned why the statues appeared to crumble so easily. Others stated that they couldn't possibly be 3,000 years old as some of the are clearly held together by iron poles - a considerably more modern practice.

It shouldn't surprise me when fundamentalists have it in for artifacts created by previous faiths, but I suppose I find it as silly as a bunch of Christian extremists raiding a museum to smash statues of the Greek gods. Most people in our culture just see Greek mythology as history rather than a competing religious system. It should also be noted that even in the latter case, relative to both Christians and Muslims the number of Greek pagans is pretty minuscule.

If your faith is really so weak that you find it threatened by images that haven't been part of a widely followed religious system for hundreds or even thousands of years, maybe you should question your own devotion to your beliefs rather than trying to wipe out evidence of the history that came before. But clearly this simple observation is lost on these folks. I'm just glad that in the end the statues survived.

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