Loss of Cultural Treasures

The loss of cultural treasures is loosely defined as the destruction, loss, or stealing of any object with cultural or historical importance.
This includes artwork, buildings, places, and in some cases people.

  • Looting
    • The Crusades/medieval times
      • Innumerable religious artifacts were lost during these wars, mainly through the sacking of defeated cities by invading armies.
    • World Wars
      • The Nazi army would loot occupied cities and ship supplies back to Germany, but personal items were also taken by the German soldiers and a lot of priceless artwork was stolen.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspects art stolen by Germans (archives.gov)

  • Destruction of Buddha statues in Afghanistan and China
    • Under both the Taliban and several Chinese governments throughout history Ancient statues have been demolished to make way for a more "favorable" religion to become dominant.
  • Destruction of churches/mosques/temples
    • Places of worship are common places of refuge during times of war and are destroyed in order to kill those hiding within them.
    • Religious buildings are also sometimes destroyed by members of another religion as an act of war in and of itself.

Why Should I Care?
The loss of cultural treasures is as important as the loss of human lives in the scope of war and history. There are numerous cases throughout history of entire civilizations being wiped out, but it is because of the remaining cultural items that we know that they existed.
Regardless of how many lives are lost in a war, if there is something left of their culture then the civilization continues to exist.

Good News on Stolen Artifact
In 1937 Italian troops seized the Axum Obelisk from Ethiopia and are now set to return it back to Ethiopia.

Axum Obelisk
Axum Obelisk
Axum Obelisk returning to Ethiopia
Axum Obelisk returning to Ethiopia

Detail about Loss of Cultural Treasures in Iraq
Iraq is located in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia where ancient cities were near 6,000 years ago. Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians thrived in this area that is now home to gun fights and bombings. Scientists say that the recent outbreak of hostilities may put archaeological sites, historic architecture, and priceless artifacts in further jeopardy. In the city of Baghdad, lies a museum of cultural treasures that becomes in danger of being destroyed or even taken by troops stationed there. During the bombings acouple years back, what would have happened had a bomb be dropped accidently on this musuem. Thousands of years of documents, treasures, and artifacts could have been destroyed. Scientists are not so much worried about the erratic bombings, but the looting is becoming a big deal. When hostilities arrise, looting by Iraqis or even US soldiers becomes a big problem. "The destruction of the archives that recorded information about the museum holdings complicated the job of totaling the loss. “By fall 2003, the figures quoted by Donny George, director of the Iraq Museum, and Col. Matthew Bogdanos, (U.S. Marine Corps) who led a U.S. team investigating the museum looting last year, put the number of objects stolen at over 10,000. This figure, however, has recently been revised by George to about 15,000 pieces, indicating this tally is far from final at this point,” Reichel said." Iraqi artifacts now appear in foreign antiquities markets. This did not happen a few years back. Gibson, a well known archeologist, gives an example of some looting being done in Iraq. "They hacked away the head and got it as far as Lebanon," he said. "That statue head must have weighed 2 or 3 tons. It was brazen and big-scale looting. Fortunately, they weren't able to sell it because Interpol had photos and it became too hot to handle. It was eventually returned—in 13 pieces." He was describing a hacking of an ancient city gateway.

Works Cited
civil war artifacts
civil war artifacts

looted artifacts
more looted artifacts
more looted artifacts