As they picked through the smashed pottery and ransacked cabinets inside Iraq's National Museum this week, curators at the internationally famous facility noticed disturbing evidence that the worst thefts were not the work of random looters.
They found glass-cutting tools on the floor. Replica artifacts that the curators had switched with genuine treasures were left untouched in their display cases while the genuine artifacts that had been hidden in vaults were missing. The vaults had been opened with keys.
This suggests an organized heist that was likely planned in advance by conspirators outside Iraq, according to leading academics who gathered in Paris yesterday at the headquarters of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Where did the looters get the keys?