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Master Orthodox Occultist Oregon Chang, The 17th generation Disciple of Seven Stars Sword Master Hebei China

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Iraq: Can ancient Babylon be rescued?

By Christopher Torchia and Ammar Al-Musawi

BABYLON, Iraq — It was one of the world's first, greatest cities — a place where astronomers mapped the stars millennia ago and kings created an early code of law and planted what became known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Yet little remains of the ancient capital, as seen by The Associated Press during a trip to Babylon last month on one of the few permits issued by Iraq's government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The site has the aura of a theme park touched by the ambition of dictator Saddam Hussein and the opportunism of looters: Modern walkways run beside crumbling old walls, a reconstructed Greek theater and a palace built for Saddam atop an artificial hill.

Now, for the first time, global institutions led by the U.N. are thoroughly documenting the damage and how to fix it. A UNESCO report due out early next year will cite Saddam's construction but focus, at the Iraqi government's request, on damage done by U.S. forces from April to September 2003, and the Polish troops deployed there for more than a year afterward.

The U.S., which turned Babylon into a military base, says the looting would have been worse but for the troops' presence. The U.S. also says it will help rehabilitate Babylon, funding an effort by the World Monuments Fund and Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, but has yet to release precise funding figures.

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