On History: Warka Vase Still a Question Mark

By | Tuesday, September 16, 2014 Leave a Comment
Back in 2008 and again in 2010, I noted here about the theft/damage done to the oldest known surviving piece of comic art: the Warka Vase. The short version is that our G.W.'s war on Iraq left the Iraqi Museum open to looting, and this artifact went missing, but was eventually returned in 14 pieces.

So, here it is, six years after I first mentioned it, eleven years after it first went missing, and there's essentially no news on it whatsoever. In fact, there's almost no news on the Iraqi Museum; as near as I can tell, their website stopped being updated in late 2011 and has since gone completely dark. There's a couple of notes about a few hundred more artifacts being returned in the past few years, but I can't seem to find what's been done with any of them.

The person who was director of the Musuem back when the Iraq War started and who helped to bring back several thousand artifacts after the looting was a man by the name of Donny George. After recovering the Warka Vase, he was forced to flee the country in 2006 after receiving death threats. He took up residence in New York, acting as a visiting professor at Stony Brook University. He died of a heart attack in 2011.

So, ultimately, after following the adventures of the world's oldest surviving comic for most of a decade now, nothing is known about its current state. We don't know where it is, what condition it's in, whether it's been repaired or broken further, when anyone might see it again... nothing. The latest info we have on the Warka Vase dates back to 2003.

I wish there were something I could report on here, but it's just locked away somewhere. No one even really knows what shape it's in. It's just a shake-my-head-sad kind of item that a pointless, wrong-headed-from-the-start war can lead to the destruction of invaluable articles like this so casually.
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