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Re: Baghdad National Museum Looted [personal, philosophical, and historical]

Dear HPs Patrick, Richard, Roger, and all other DML HPs,

We are witnessing, and are caught up in, human history's continuingly tragic
panoply, from Ashurbanipul to Cyrus the Great to Alexander the Great to
Caesar and Augustus to the Crusades to Saladin to Napoleon, Hitler, Tojo,
and Stalin.

As we mourn the losses to archaeology and natural history -- much of which
is irreplaceable, to be sure, and any such loss is a very personal one (see,
for example, my publications in the _Journal of the British Institute of
Persian Studies_ and the _Enclycopaedia Iranica_) -- let us ponder the costs
to humanity (Archimedes, killed at Syracuse, ca. 212 B.C., and Henry
Gwyn-Jeffreys Moseley, killed at Gallipoli, August 10, 1915, spring to
mind). We can -- we must -- recover and reconstruct. Thank goodness for HP
Adrienne Mayor and her colleagues for tracking down ancient thoughts and
speculations regarding paleontological remains.

Iraq (Mesopotamia and its immediate surroundings) gave us our very
civilization (and cities), writing, astronomy, mathematics, fundamenal laws,
and over time the basics of Judeo/Christian/Islamic/Zoroastrian beliefs. I
fear that we are caught, and trapped, in an East versus West pattern first
discerned by Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. We must all study human
history even whilst trying to understand the mysteries of the Mesozoic.

Believe me: I've been there, done that, and (barely) survived -- and I hope
no one else ever experiences looting and mob gunfire personally: it's ugly
and terrifying and demoralizing --  but I lived, and my specimens and data
(except for those regarding the crocodiles in Iranian Baluchistan and
Triassic theropod dinosaur tracks near Kerman, Iran) have endured and have
been referenced and/or formally published.

And, yes, I very much want to return to Southwest Asia and continue my
zoological research: no nationalism, no strutting, no assertions. I've
personally seen too many tribal and village children afflected with flies
and foul water and insect-infested rice in otherwise oil-rich regimes to
salute shahs and dictators and tyrants for their "tender" mercies.

After the humanitarian mess is cleaned up and set right and basic needs and
education are reestablished, let us all diligently work together to
stabilizie, rebuild, reconstruct, and reaffirm our common human right to
exist and flourish in this vast and wonderful universe.

And, no, this is not the way I would have dealt with it. But it's done, and
history (and we) will have to confront reality now.

-= Tuck =-