Object Lesson: Sumerian Plaque

This low-relief limestone carving, dating to c.2400 BC, formed part of a larger votive wall plaque in a Sumerian temple in southern Iraq, during what is known as the Early Dynastic III period. It would have been fixed to the wall next to a door, and could have been used to securely shut it by tying a rope attached to the door around a peg in the centre of the plaque.


Object Lesson: Ram in the Thicket

What is it? This ancient Mesopotamian sculpture known as the ‘ram in the thicket’ is actually a ‘goat in a tree’. The goat is rendered in impressive detail, as it reaches up to eat leaves on high branches – a common sight along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The sculpture was made […]

WMF SYR Aleppo Souk featured

Hope through heritage

Before September, the people in this picture had never picked up a chisel. Now, only a few months into World Monument Fund’s conservation stonemasonry training programme, they can carve arabesques for zakhrafa jambs, prepare rectangular billet mouldings, or work an ovolo return. Not yet perfect maybe, but still astonishing progress, made more remarkable still given […]


A Tumultuous Decade

Prof Roger Matthews, Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Reading The study of the ancient Near East is inextricably linked with political developments in the modern Middle East. The past ten years have been a disruptive and difficult decade. CWA’s first issue appeared a few months after the US/UK-led invasion of Iraq, with the notorious looting […]


CWA travels to Mesopotamia

Off the beaten track in Iraqi Kurdistan For millennia, empires have clashed in the breathtaking landscape of Mesopotamia, leaving in their wake traces of once-great civilisations. Conflict flared again in recent times, and the region was closed to the outside world. Now, as peace returns, archaeologist Rebecca Bradshaw has taken a band of travellers to […]


Koldewey at Babylon

The dig The site of Babylon – one of the oldest, richest, and most fabled cities of Antiquity – had attracted a succession of European antiquarian investigators during the 19th century, but it was not until the arrival of a German Oriental Society (Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft) team led by Robert Koldewey (1855-1925) that scientific excavations were […]


CWA travels to: Erbil Citadel

The World’s Longest Living Town Today, you will only get a view of Erbil Citadel ‘some four miles away’ from the window of a plane: there is a building boom going on in the modern city that surrounds the ancient settlement. Even so, the sight of the great citadel cannot fail to impress. It sits […]


Layard at Nimrud

On an overland ride from England to Ceylon in 1839, Austen Henry Layard became fascinated by the newly emerging archaeology of Mesopotomia (in modern Iraq).


Royal Tombs of Ur

From the underground chambers of the Royal Tombs emerged a picture of a civilisation that was at once dazzling and sinister


Penn Museum’s First Excavations

This autumn the Penn Museum will hold an exhibition on their first-ever excavation at Nippur in modern Iraq. But it all centres on a most scandalous affair, as Richard Hodges, Director of the Penn Museum explains.


Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Iraq Museum

The Rape of Mesopotamia is not an exaggerated title, unfortunately. His book is an ‘autopsy of a cultural disaster’, writes Lawrence Rothfield, a former director of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, an institution long associated with Mesopotamian archaeology. Indeed he draws heavily on the experience of McGuire Gibson, his archaeologist colleague […]

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