September 18, 2007
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Robert Fisk reports in The Independent on the pillage of archaeological sites in Iraq.

It appears that essentially everything in Sumeria is being systematically plundered and ruined, even now. Contractors get grants to build mud-brick factories, but don't make bricks: they mine them from 2,000-year-old Sumerian cities. Bonus: all the artifacts they find, they sell secretly to wealthy collectors.

A cylinder seal, a sculpture or a cuneiform tablet earns $50 (£25) and that's half the monthly salary of an average government employee in Iraq. The looters have been told by the traders that if an object is worth anything at all, it must have an inscription on it. In Iraq, the farmers consider their "looting" activities to be part of a normal working day.