The Iraqi National Museum represents unity among the different factions of Iraq. The museum is of utmost importance to the people of Iraq, no matter what their affiliations might be; the Iraqi people hold dear to their hearts their past and their heritage.
The museum’s collection of antiquities predates any collection known in human history and tells the story of human progress, which dates from the writing of the first code of laws in Hammurabi’s time up until the dawn of civilization. This collection is now largely lost.
The collection is the pride and joy of the Iraqi people, so the loss of the artifacts that dates back thousands of years has devastated the Iraqi community and shocked the world. As the Oriental Institute website puts it: “In the days following the conquest of Baghdad by U.S troops in April 2003, the Iraq museum was looted; many pieces were stolen, others damaged or destroyed. Irrespective of numbers, these losses are tremendous not only to the world of archaeology but to mankind in general.” (Iraq Museum Database, Oriental Institute, 2003)
In her article Raiders of the Lost Art, Meghan O’Rourke (2003) wrote, “Archaeologists in the United States consider the National Museum of Antiquities … to be among the 10 most important museums in the world.” (p. 2). She also explains that American archaeologists informed the Pentagon of the importance of the museum and requested it be protected from bombings. Further proof of the significance of the looting is evidenced by the April 17, 2003 resignation of the chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Property who cited the preventable destruction of Iraq’s National Museum in his resignation letter. (O’Rourke, 2003)