Saturday, June 21, 2003


Marines volunteer to restore Babylon treasure (Henderson Hall News)

by Sgt. Mike Sweet
367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

AL HILLAH, Iraq - Pitching in with brooms and good old Yankee know-how Marines and sailors are working to rehabilitate the Nebuchadnezzer Museum on the grounds of the ruins of Babylon.

Volunteers spent the afternoon June 7 cleaning the museum. Technical experts now plan to help make the museum better than it was before the war.


Looters tried to ravage the grounds of the ancient ruins before the Marines arrived in Babylon and secured the international treasure.

Whether they were taking out vengeance on Saddam Hussein or were just opportunists wanting to steal whatever they could get there hands on, looters demolished the museum located inside the ancient walled city, said Mohammed Taher, the museum's director.

"Fortunately we did not have any original artifacts on display," Taher said. "I do not understand how they could have done this to their own heritage."


The Mesopotamian empire of Babylon dates back thousands of years and is recognized by experts as one of the most important cities of ancient times. It is the second most noted city in the Bible after Jerusalem, according to Army Capt. Avroham Horovitz, a Jewish chaplain supporting troops serving with the First Marine Expeditionary Force.


The Museum rehabilitation project is important to the Marines. They are investing more than $35,000 to protect the artifacts said Rivas.

"I am please with the people who we are working with," said [Marine Capt. Gavino] Rivas. "They are professional and have a lot of pride in protecting the artifacts. His goal is to have the rehabilitation project completed in time for the annual Babylonian festival that is scheduled for September 22.

"This is a cooperative effort," said Rivas who before becoming a civil affairs officer flew CH-46 helicopters. "Marines, Seabees, soldiers, Iraqis; everyone is working together to make this work."

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