Friday, March 13, 2009

U.S., Iraqi Leaders Aim to Restore Iraq's Historic Sites

By Army Pfc. Jasmine N. Walthall
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 13, 2009 - U.S. forces and Iraqi officials are working together to restore ancient monuments in Iraq. Army Brig. Gen. Jefforey Smith, deputy commanding general of support for Multinational Division Central and 10th Mountain Division, and other senior leaders escorted Qahtan Jubouri, Iraq's minister of tourism and antiquities, through the ancient cities of Ur and Nuffar on March 10. "The purpose of this visit was to have the minister of tourism and antiquities meet with public state officials to talk about future projects that are under consideration to reconstruct and excavate some of these sites," Smith said.

Ur is one of the most well-known ancient sites in Iraq. It was once the capital of the ancient civilization of Sumeria. The city is mentioned several times in the Bible as "Ur of the Chaldees," and is the birthplace of Abraham. It once stood on the banks of the Euphrates prior to the shift in the river, and is home to the best-preserved ziggurat, a raised platform, in Iraq.

Nippur, which is now modern-day Nuffar, is an ancient city in southeastern Iraq. Ruins from a temple that once housed administrative, economic and religious functions are still there. The temple, called E-kur, is said to be the home of the god Enlil, and where man is said to have been created. More than 40,000 tablets have been recovered in the ruins.

Jubouri also met with archeologists from area museums.

"It is humanity's duty to preserve this site," Abdul Amir Hamdani, director of the Inspectorate of Dhi Qar, said. "We must take advantage of this duty."

Hamdani also pointed out that it was "necessary and urgent that more attention and care be paid to the structures in order to maintain the existing buildings."

Jubouri, along with U.S. forces and local officials, are in the planning stages of restoring the historic monuments.

Looking ahead, "Along with amenities for tourism, we will make it a haven for tourism and bring all the visitors and tourists from all over the world," Jubouri said.

"It is important that we revitalize this land," Jubouri added. "The Iraqi people will remember what the American people have done for them."

(Army Pfc. Jasmine N. Walthall serves with Task Force 449.)

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