Warka Vase Status Updated. Sort of.

By | Thursday, March 18, 2010 Leave a Comment
One of the many (and there are oh-so-many!) under-reported tragedies stemming from G.W.'s invasion of Iraq is the theft and/or destruction of literally thousands of ancient artifacts that were housed in the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Included among the looted artifacts was the Warka Vase well-known as "one of the earliest surviving works of narrative relief sculpture." Narrative relief sculpture, for the uninitiated, is a scholarly phrase meaning comics carved in 3-D. In short, the Warka Vase is one of -- if not THE -- earliest example of comics/sequential art still in existence.

When I first reported on the Warka Vase's theft and resulting damage in 2008, I noted that the latest information I had been able to find dated from 2003. News about the Museum or any of the artifacts housed therein has been virtually nil since then. But I've kept my eyes open for any news about this for the past couple of years, and I finally came across this article from The Guardian.

The short version is that National Museum of Iraq re-opened late last month, although less than half of the pieces that had been looted have ever been recovered. The Warka Vase is mentioned specifically, however, it's not mentioned whether or not it was put on display. Several sections of the Museum remained closed. and none of the photos accompanying the article show the vase.

A little more digging beyond the article show that the Museum's opening was done at the request of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His intent was evidently to show that things are back to normal in Baghdad; however, the opening was only for one day. I can't seem to find mention of when it will be re-opened for good, although the article suggests that a great deal of progress has been made in the past six months, implying that a great deal more progress will be made in the next six months. The Museum's own web site has no information at all (at least in English) about progress or current status or anything, but it does note the Warka Vase as being a part of their collection and shows a thumbnail of the piece intact. Obviously, it could be an old photo or (given the size of the image) a reconstruction.

Ultimately, all this points to a vaguely positive sign for the vase itself, but nothing remotely concrete. I'll continue to try to keep tabs on this and report any further news or developments here.
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