Babylon Conservation

Babylon is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. And yet it is also one of the most endangered one. Babylon was subject to some questionable restoration works.

Starting with 1985 Saddam Hussein disposed the restoration of the ruins in a unique way; Besides the Processional way being restored and the Ishtar Gate being recreated, he ordered a new building to be erected on top of old ruins, had his name erected on bricks and placed a great picture of himself and King Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance of the site.

Lately it has been seriously damaged by the war. In 2003 US troops stationed here built a helipad atop some ruins and heavy army vehicles roamed through the ruins as US Marines were stationed in Hussein’s former palace. Finally, in 2005 the ruins were returned to Iraqi authorities.

Protecting the area from looters is a serious concern of the authorities, but in recent years there have been progresses in this regard.

The US Department of State has awarded $2.7 million in funding to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to collaborate with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in the development of policies and practices that will ensure future preservation of the site, and serve as a model for the management of other Iraqi heritage sites.

WMF also works closely with Iraqi preservationists to conserve key ancient structures damaged by erosion, neglect, and inappropriate use, including the 2,500-year-old Nabu-Sha-Khare Temple and Ishtar Gate.

A $1 million field training initiative, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, will enable comprehensive classroom instruction and on-site training of Iraqi preservation specialists involved in the project.