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JULY 2005

Looting Patterns in Northern Dhi Qar


Aerial photos recently published in the media make looted sites look like "lunar landscapes" in the middle of nowhere. We looked at satellite imagery for this sample 190-square-mile area midway between An Nasiriyah and Al Kut, and found 64 sites that showed evidence of illegal archaeological probing and digging. The bigger picture, viewed screen-by-screen from a virtual altitude of 1500 feet, shows that these sites are most certainly not in the middle of nowhere, and suggests that to stop the looting will require more than any number of armed patrols.
Image 2005 DigitalGlobe, Google and Iraq Museum International.

ZABALAM, 31o44'35.96" N 45o52'36.82" E - This satellite image of a Sumerian site, at the southern edge of our sample area, reveals the outline of ancient structures and the "lunar landscape" tell-tale signs of modern-day scavenging. Compare this view with the photo released by the Italian Carabiniere.

SITE 1 (View 1), 31o55'22.39" N 45o55'31.62" E - Cropped tightly, this view of a site further north has the same isolated look of the landscapes published by CNN and the BBC.

SITE 1 (View 2) - However, a wider view of the same location shows that the edge of the pitted 5.5-acre site is actually only about 50 feet from a group of houses.

SITE 1 (View 3) - In fact, over a dozen buildings are within a quarter-mile radius from the center of the site. Also note the faint outlines, possibly of ancient structures, in the lower right portion of the image.

Within a half-mile radius from the center of Site 1 are 2 more sites, and a 4th is located only a mile away.


SITE 2 (Left), 31o55'05.17" N 45o55'23.68" E - a small, 2.5-acre site.

SITE 3 (Right), 31o55'42.41" N 45o55'45.46" E - a sizable, 12.5-acre site, with an outline similar to those found in the views above.

SITE 4, 31o55'23.37" N 45o56'27.68" E - another sizable, 10-acre site, only 200 feet from a group of buildings.


Those looting Sites 1-4 may be interested in Sites 5-8 further south. Starting on the left:

SITE 5, 31o53'44.76" N 45o57'44.18" E - possibly a half-acre probe site.

SITE 6, 31o53'36.12" N 45o57'49.23" E - a 1-acre site.

SITE 7, 31o53'14.09" N 45o57'27.41" E - a tiny half-acre site.

SITE 8, 31o52'47.36" N 45o58'27.31" E - a 1-acre site.

Most of these 8 sites are within a 2-mile radius from the center of the largest town in our sample area. Site 4, one of the largest, is only a half-mile from the edge of town.

Al FAJR - on the banks of the Shatt al Gharraf waterway, which thousands of years ago was the main channel from the Tigris to the Euphrates. Al Fajr is 3 miles from the main road to Nasiriyah, and within 13 miles from all 64 sites -- and the many small villages -- in our sample area.

The images above and the rest we will post show that the archaeological sites are not isolated, but part of the daily landscape of local residents. In the days ahead we will explore the challenges in patrolling these sites, including the social and economic forces that may lead local communities to condone, facilitate and participate in the ravaging of their own culture. As reported by Joanne Farchakh, "To cover their backs, local dealers buy the protection of the big clans in the nearby city of Al-Fajr who send their own people to plunder the sites."

Translation of the Qur'an, Chapter 89


Total Verses: 30
Revealed At: MAKKA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

YUSUFALI: By the break of Day
PICKTHAL: By the Dawn
SHAKIR: I swear by the daybreak,

YUSUFALI: By the Nights twice five;
PICKTHAL: And ten nights,
SHAKIR: And the ten nights,

YUSUFALI: By the even and odd (contrasted);
PICKTHAL: And the Even and the Odd,
SHAKIR: And the even and the odd,

YUSUFALI: And by the Night when it passeth away;-
PICKTHAL: And the night when it departeth,
SHAKIR: And the night when it departs.

YUSUFALI: Is there (not) in these an adjuration (or evidence) for those who understand?
PICKTHAL: There surely is an oath for thinking man.
SHAKIR: Truly in that there is an oath for those who possess understanding.

YUSUFALI: Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the 'Ad (people),-
PICKTHAL: Dost thou not consider how thy Lord dealt with (the tribe of) A'ad,
SHAKIR: Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with Ad,

YUSUFALI: Of the (city of) Iram, with lofty pillars,
PICKTHAL: With many-columned Iram,
SHAKIR: (The people of) Aram, possessors of lofty buildings,

YUSUFALI: The like of which were not produced in (all) the land?
PICKTHAL: The like of which was not created in the lands;
SHAKIR: The like of which were not created in the (other) cities;

YUSUFALI: And with the Thamud (people), who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley?-
PICKTHAL: And with (the tribe of) Thamud, who clove the rocks in the valley;
SHAKIR: And (with) Samood, who hewed out the rocks in the valley,

YUSUFALI: And with Pharaoh, lord of stakes?
PICKTHAL: And with Pharaoh, firm of might,
SHAKIR: And (with) Firon, the lord of hosts,

YUSUFALI: (All) these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands,
PICKTHAL: Who (all) were rebellious (to Allah) in these lands,
SHAKIR: Who committed inordinacy in the cities,

YUSUFALI: And heaped therein mischief (on mischief).
PICKTHAL: And multiplied iniquity therein?
SHAKIR: So they made great mischief therein?

YUSUFALI: Therefore did thy Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements:
PICKTHAL: Therefore thy Lord poured on them the disaster of His punishment.
SHAKIR: Therefore your Lord let down upon them a portion of the chastisement.

YUSUFALI: For thy Lord is (as a Guardian) on a watch-tower.
PICKTHAL: Lo! thy Lord is ever watchful.
SHAKIR: Most sure!y your Lord is watching.

YUSUFALI: Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts, then saith he, (puffed up), "My Lord hath honoured me."
PICKTHAL: As for man, whenever his Lord trieth him by honouring him, and is gracious unto him, he saith: My Lord honoureth me.
SHAKIR: And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honor and makes him lead an easy life, he says: My Lord honors me.

YUSUFALI: But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), "My Lord hath humiliated me!"
PICKTHAL: But whenever He trieth him by straitening his means of life, he saith: My Lord despiseth me.
SHAKIR: But when He tries him (differently), then straitens to him his means of subsistence, he says: My Lord has disgraced me.

YUSUFALI: Nay, nay! but ye honour not the orphans!
PICKTHAL: Nay, but ye (for your part) honour not the orphan
SHAKIR: Nay! but you do not honor the orphan,

YUSUFALI: Nor do ye encourage one another to feed the poor!-
PICKTHAL: And urge not on the feeding of the poor.
SHAKIR: Nor do you urge one another to feed the poor,

YUSUFALI: And ye devour inheritance - all with greed,
PICKTHAL: And ye devour heritages with devouring greed.
SHAKIR: And you eat away the heritage, devouring (everything) indiscriminately,

YUSUFALI: And ye love wealth with inordinate love!
PICKTHAL: And love wealth with abounding love.
SHAKIR: And you love wealth with exceeding love.

YUSUFALI: Nay! When the earth is pounded to powder,
PICKTHAL: Nay, but when the earth is ground to atoms, grinding, grinding,
SHAKIR: Nay! when the earth is made to crumble to pieces,

YUSUFALI: And thy Lord cometh, and His angels, rank upon rank,
PICKTHAL: And thy Lord shall come with angels, rank on rank,
SHAKIR: And your Lord comes and (also) the angels in ranks,

YUSUFALI: And Hell, that Day, is brought (face to face),- on that Day will man remember, but how will that remembrance profit him?
PICKTHAL: And hell is brought near that day; on that day man will remember, but how will the remembrance (then avail him)?
SHAKIR: And hell is made to appear on that day. On that day shall man be mindful, and what shall being mindful (then) avail him?

YUSUFALI: He will say: "Ah! Would that I had sent forth (good deeds) for (this) my (Future) Life!"
PICKTHAL: He will say: Ah, would that I had sent before me (some provision) for my life!
SHAKIR: He shall say: O! would that I had sent before for (this) my life!

YUSUFALI: For, that Day, His Chastisement will be such as none (else) can inflict,
PICKTHAL: None punisheth as He will punish on that day!
SHAKIR: But on that day shall no one chastise with (anything like) His chastisement,

YUSUFALI: And His bonds will be such as none (other) can bind.
PICKTHAL: None bindeth as He then will bind.
SHAKIR: And no one shall bind with (anything like) His binding.

YUSUFALI: (To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
PICKTHAL: But ah! thou soul at peace!
SHAKIR: O soul that art at rest!

YUSUFALI: "Come back thou to thy Lord,- well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!
PICKTHAL: Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure!
SHAKIR: Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with him), well-pleasing (Him),

YUSUFALI: "Enter thou, then, among My devotees!
PICKTHAL: Enter thou among My bondmen!
SHAKIR: So enter among My servants,

YUSUFALI: "Yea, enter thou My Heaven!
PICKTHAL: Enter thou My Garden!
SHAKIR: And enter into My garden.

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