Wednesday, April 02, 2003


From UPI

CANBERRA, Australia, April 2 (UPI) -- Australia Wednesday accused Iraq of using historic sites to hide its weapons and Prime Minister John Howard continued to defend the length of the war, as anti-war protests in Sydney led to one arrest.

Australian Defense Force spokesman Brig. Mike Hannan said Iraq was using historic sites, such as the Ctesiphon, to hide its weapons. According to Hannan, Iraqi vehicles were parked in strategic places at the site, which is protected under The Hague Convention.

The ancient city -- dated to the 2nd century BC -- lies on the Tigris River, southeast of Baghdad. The Hague Convention protects the world's cultural and heritage sites.

The Guardian reports on the looming "Battle of Babylon":

In the Pentagon, they are calling it the battle of Kerbala gap, after the 19-mile stretch of dry land between Razzaza lake and the Euphrates river. For the headline writers, however, it may become better known, from the ancient ruins on the river's east bank, as the Battle of Babylon.

Iraq's military commanders appear to have thrown parts of five of their six Republican Guard divisions into defending the southern approaches to Baghdad, and the seat of Mesopotamian civilisation lies along the 50-mile ring around the capital, where the Iraqi guardsmen have been told to make a stand.

In the past 24 hours US mechanised and airborne forces probing the Iraqi defences have reported coming across corpses in uniforms of the Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar divisions, both named after ancient Babylonian kings in whose steps Saddam Hussein believes he is treading.

The Hammurabi has traditionally had the task of guarding Saddam's hometown of Tikrit; the Nebuchadnezzar are there to protect the eastern flank from Iranian invasion, while the south had been left to the Medina Division.

Both links via The Command Post, whose coverage of this issue has been excellent. They also link to this photograph of Ctesiphon.

UPDATE: More details on the situation in Ctesiphon from And - tangentially related - according to the London Times the British Museum is trying to raise �1.5 million to save the "Whore of Babylon".

THE British Museum is raising funds to save a spectacular carving of a naked woman, thought to be a high-class prostitute, which may have hung outside a brothel 4,000 years ago.

The terracotta relief is thought to have been made by a craftsman from the ancient city of Babylon, about 55 miles (90km) from what is today Baghdad.

It will be sold abroad unless the British Museum can raise the price � believed to be �1.5 million � although the owner, a Japanese collector, is keen for the sculpture to go to the museum.

I wonder how John of Patmos would feel about that (Revelation 17). (10:22 am)

UPDATE: More Iraq links and commentary at Archaeology Magazine. Plus ancient batteries from Baghdad? Really. (The latter is via the Archaeologica News Page.) (4:12 pm)

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