The article discusses the theft of artworks from Iraq’s National Museum and how the illegal trade of stolen antiquities persists, in part, due to the scale of demand for these artifacts. In addition to the discussion of the Iraqi National Museum, the author points out the destruction of cultural heritage site in Syria and Libya as well.
Ironically, centuries after many of the remains of these ancient cultural entities were looted by European colonial forces in order to fill grand national museums, we are seeing a 21st century version of cultural colonialism. Private collectors are enabling an entire economy of illegal activities.
On April 10 2003, the first looters broke into the National Museum of Iraq. Staff had vacated two days earlier, ahead of the advance of US forces on Baghdad. The museum was effectively ransacked for the next 36 hours until employees returned.