6 Benefits to Using Leak Detection on Your Products

Leak detection tests are an important part of food production. When you have equipment on premises, it allows you to conduct more tests to learn about how seals and packaging will hold up at different altitudes, and more. The benefits to using leak detection are numerous.

1. You Avoid Leaks

You don’t want to find out that your food leaked. Whether it’s during transit, at the store, or at a customer’s home, leaks are a bad thing. It could make it harder to establish trust in your product in the future, too.

A simple test can tell you everything you need to know about pressurization and the packaging itself.

2. You Avoid Spoilage

Even the smallest leak can cause the food to spoil before the expiration date. People buy from you expecting a good product. If there is a leak, even if you can’t see it, the food will go bad. Spoilage often results in product returns, which affects your bottom line.

It might also make it hard for people to return to your brand when they have experienced spoiled products from you in the past.

3. You Provide a Better Product

Your goal is to provide the best possible product. By spending an extra day or two in testing, you can give people a product that is well sealed. You know it won’t give off any emissions and that there is no leak.

The expiration date stamped on the product is also more likely to be valid. Otherwise, if it expires before the date you have identified, people will be disappointed.

4. You Learn More About Packaging

As you conduct tests on premises, you will learn a lot more about packaging. Some methods of packaging might work better than others. If you have failed vacuum-sealed tests in the past, you might want to look at another way to package a product.

Boxes, bags, cans, and other packaging can be tested inside of leak detection equipment. If you have any kind of issue, you can go back to the drawing board until you find something you’re satisfied with.

5. You Reduce Waste

If you send out a case of a product that is leaking, it’s going to come back to you. This is an entire case of food that cannot be sold. It becomes waste that you have to deal with.

The more product you send out without testing, the more likely you are to encounter waste. By running a few tests, you can determine the better packaging to ensure that all food is properly packaged and can hold up against any shipping method that you use.

6. You Increase Profits

Profits will increase as you improve your packaging. This is because you are less likely to deal with waste and returns. You also provide a better product, which in turn ensures that customers are happy with what you have to offer.

Knowing about leak detection will provide your business with more information. You can create a better product and avoid problems throughout operations.


4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Leak Detection Equipment Today

The use of quality leak detection equipment in your facility is a necessity. After all, this equipment is responsible for ensuring that your product packaging is properly sealed before it ships out to the market for sale. However, many companies are currently using outdated equipment that performs rather poorly. Upgrading this equipment periodically is beneficial and even necessary at times. There are several great reasons why now may be the right time to invest in new leak detection equipment for your business.

1. Ensure the Quality of Your Products
The quality of your products is directly affected by the packaging that you use. This packaging may prevent breakage, spoiling, contamination and more. When such issues happen to your products while they are en route to the market or directly to customers, the image of your company and brand can be jeopardized. The last thing you want is to be known as a company that sells broken products or spoiled food. It can take many long years to reverse this type of public image, so it is best to avoid reaching that point altogether. Leak detection packaging can be used to confirm the integrity of the packaging before each shipment, and this can protect your brand image.

2. Take Advantage of New Innovations
You may already have related equipment in use in your facility, but it could be old and outdated. Older equipment may be more likely to fail, or it may be less effective overall at detecting leaks in your product packaging. New innovations in this type of equipment have dramatically improved the results for all types of businesses. The only way to take advantage of the many benefits associated with the new innovations in your business is to make an upgrade.

3. Reduce the Risk of a Liability Lawsuit
In some instances, the quality of your food or other products can be so poor that your company is exposed to a liability issue. For example, your company may unintentionally sell food that has become contaminated with bacteria, and your customers may fall ill after eating it. This could result in a liability lawsuit filed against your company to pay for your customers’ medical bills and other related expenses. Such expenses can be astronomical, and this can have a major impact on your business’s ability to operate successfully. When you use leak detection equipment to confirm the quality of the packaging that you are using, you are making a solid effort to reduce your exposure to liability issues.

4. Improve Your Bottom Line
Everything from returned products and negative reviews about your business online to liability issues and more can be the result of poor packaging. Packaging issues can have a direct effect on your bottom line, and this can erode away profits and prevent you from having funds required to grow over time. If you are focused on improving your bottom line, you cannot take chances by using low-quality or outdated leak detection equipment. Upgrading now will help you to bolster profitability in the months and years to come.

It may be easy to view this type of equipment as rather unimportant, but you can see that the quality of the leak detection equipment in use in your facility can play a very real role in the overall success of your business. You and your team work hard to create quality products, and you need to use the right equipment to ensure that your packaging will protect those products properly until they are ready to be consumed. Now is a great time to learn more about the different features available in modern equipment.


Looted Treasures Return to Iraq

Iraq announced the return of hundreds of antiquities that had ended up in the United States, although 632 pieces repatriated last year were now unaccounted for.


Iraq’s Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur’s Royal Cemetery

PHILADELPHIA — A new, long-term exhibition, “Iraq’s Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur’s Royal Cemetery,” opens Sunday, Oct. 25, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The exhibit will bring details of the famous expedition conducted by Penn Museum and the British Museum to life through field notes, photographs and archival documents and more than 220 ancient artifacts unearthed at the excavation. “Iraq’s Ancient Past” looks to the present and future as well, exploring the ongoing story of scientific inquiry and discovery made possible by those excavations as well as the pressing issues around the preservation of Iraq’s cultural heritage today.

In 1922, the same year that Howard Carter made headlines with the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, Penn Museum and the British Museum embarked upon a joint expedition to the ancient site of Ur in southern Iraq. Led by British archaeologist Leonard Woolley, this expedition astonished the world by uncovering a 4,500-year-old royal cemetery with more than 2,000 burials that detailed a remarkable ancient Mesopotamian civilization at the height of its glory.

Centerpiece of the exhibition is the collection of famous ancient artifacts uncovered and, in some cases, painstakingly conserved, including five objects that art critic and former Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Thomas Hoving called, “the finest, most resplendent and magical works of art in all of America”: the Ram-Caught-in-the-Thicket, the Great Lyre with a gold and lapis lazuli bull’s head, Queen Puabi’s jewelry, an electrum drinking tumbler and a gold ostrich egg as well as the queen’s headdress and other treasures large and small.

“Iraq’s Ancient Past” recounts the formation of the joint expedition to Ur, the setting up the “expedition house” for the excavation team and the many excavation challenges that Woolley’s team faced.

Known today as “Tell al Muquayyar,” or “mound of pitch (tar),” the site of Ur, near present-day Nasiriyah, was thought to be “Ur of the Chaldees,” the birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham. During his excavations, Woolley hoped to uncover Abraham’s home and other biblical evidence. In 1929, he interpreted a deep layer of river clay he uncovered to be the remains of a “great flood” from the biblical story of Noah. Like so much discovered at Ur, his sensational story made international headlines.

His major discovery, however, was the site of Ur’s royal cemetery. With a crew of hundreds, he began this massive excavation in 1926, eventually uncovering nearly 2,000 burials. Sixteen of these he named “royal tombs” based on their style of construction, evidence of royal attendants who were interred at the same time and the sheer wealth of the graves’ contents. The three most celebrated tombs were the looted tomb of a king, the remarkably preserved tomb of Queen Puabi and what he dubbed “the Great Death Pit” since it contained 74 carefully laid out and richly adorned bodies, all but six female.

The famous excavations attracted the attention and involvement of a number of personalities whom the exhibition also highlights. For example, T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was instrumental in securing the excavation and Woolley’s participation, while Agatha Christie, who eventually married Woolley’s assistant Max Mallowan, wrote “Murder in Mesopotamia” to mark her experience on site.

Since the excavations came to a close in 1934, scholars have continued to study Penn Museum’s Ur collection, incorporating new evidence from other ancient sites and using improved conservation practices and new scientific techniques to further investigate the material. For example, because almost nothing excavated from the royal tombs could have been created from locally available materials, the exhibition details how scholars are rebuilding the story of 4,500-year-old trade networks across the Near and Middle East.

The exhibition concludes with a look at the situation in Iraq today, where looting in the Iraq National Museum and at archaeological sites throughout the country has destroyed much evidence about the past. To date, the Ur excavation site has been largely preserved, having been contained within the boundaries of Tallil Air Base and under the control of allied forces until May 2009 when the site was officially returned to Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities.

“Iraq’s Ancient Past” is co-curated by Penn Museum’s Richard L. Zettler, associate curator-in-charge of the Near East Section, and Holly Pittman, curator in the Near East Section. They are contributors to “Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur” (Penn Museum, 1998), a catalogue from an earlier exhibition that featured material from this site.

Additional information is available at www.penn.museum or by calling 215-898-4000.


Geospatial: Mapping Iraqs Ancient Cities

While many Soldiers head home in the late hours of the second shift, Sgt. Ronald Peters sits at his desk scanning over imagery, maps and the Internet, sometimes as late as 5 a.m., looking for answers.

Peters, a geospatial analyst from Fort Lewis, Wash., with Multi-National Corps-Iraq C-7, is undertaking the largest mapping projects of his career. His work is helping to resolve a concern shared by both the U.S. military and the Iraqi government as troops have pulled out of cities and continue the drawdown.

“We try not to say we’re mapmakers, it’s more like being able to geographically depict a possible solution,” Peters said.

Peters said while most everything has been mapped, geospatial analysts extract certain features from one map and combine it with features from another map to make a new one. For example, a map showing structures and roads could be combined with a map showing different types of soil to plan an irrigation system for farmers.

“What we can do is take the data that creates all the available maps and pinpoint what a customer specifically wants to create a new map that fits their needs,” he said.

What was needed in this case was something that had never been done before, a complete mapping of all available information on archeological sites in Iraq.

“Back in June, one of the engineers working on future operations wanted to see all the archeological sites in Iraq,” Peters recalled. “Everybody knows this is the cradle of civilization.

There’s Babylon, Ur, some pretty famous archeological sites in Iraq.”

As bases were closed and troops withdrew from cities, the existing bases need to expand, without infringing on historical sites.

“We need the Iraqi government’s permission to expand a camp to house relocated troops,” Peters explained. “The government, for a number of reasons, might say no. One of those reasons might be the presence of archeological sites in the area.”

Peters volunteered for the job and began the difficult process of creating a list of archeological sites.

“I started asking around for input from different people,” he recalled. “The more I got into it the more I realized there’s a lot more than just Babylon and Ur.”

The process was pretty straight forward. Chief Warrant Officer Jason Davis and Peters scanned imagery to identify a mound that stands out from the rest of the terrain that could be an old city buried in the sand. Peters then examined the appropriate imagery to identify the geographical coordinates, searching online resources for references to ancient historical places in the area.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I love doing it; being a social science major, history and geography are two areas that have been two of my academic passions.”

Rogers used a digital copy of a 1961 map of Iraq created by the Iraq director of Antiquities and, through a process called rubber sheeting, assigned geographic coordinates to the map. There were 270 different rock monuments, cultural and historical sites.

Even though the map was a good starting point, Peters questioned the accuracy of the locations. The 1961 map had Ctesiphon, a large site buried in history, located about 50 miles away from the location on Peters’ imagery.

“The mapping software we have is a lot more accurate than what they used 48 years ago,” he said. “So I can definitely compare two known spots, see its 50 miles off on the old map and adjust. But there are places out there from the older map that I have no idea where it’s at. There’s nothing anywhere near it on our maps.”

Peters confirmed the validity of about 100 sites using the Internet, but there were still more than 150 that left him puzzled.

When the project first started he spent half his day researching. At 250 sites, he cut back the hours, but continued working on tracking down sites on his own time from his trailer.

Then he came across an Arizona State University project claiming there were approximately 12,000 sites to be mapped and presented to the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq. After a series of phone calls and emails, Rogers linked up with Diane Siebrandt, an archeologist and cultural heritage officer at the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad.

Siebrandt shared with him information from the State University of New York.

“They had a project of about 700 sites,” he said. “I compared that to the 300 sites I had and most of them were confirmed by the SUNY list and other research.”

After months of work, Peters has established a map of more than 800 sites throughout Iraq.

“It would be nice to get all 12,000 but there’s no possible way for us to do it, so right now what we’re mainly concerned about is anything within where we are going to be operating, doing the best that we can not to infringe on any sites,” he said.

Peter’s ongoing effort to preserve Iraq’s archeological sites now is a part of the military’s diligence in caring for the ancient sites and history of the Iraqi people as U.S. forces withdraw from the country.



Iraq cries for help to restore ancient sites

BAGHDAD — Iraq appealed to other nations on Thursday to help save its archaeological treasures from ruin, saying ancient Babylonian and Assyrian artifacts and priceless medieval Islamic monuments were at risk without more funds.

Iraq, which the ancient Greeks called Mesopotamia or ‘land between two rivers’ because of its Tigris and Euphrates, is regarded by archaeologists as the cradle of civilisation.

Many believe it gave birth to such milestones of human development as agriculture, codified law and the wheel.

But historic sites have been woefully neglected and damaged by decades of war, sanctions and looting. Iraqi officials say they need to spend millions of dollars to reverse the damage.

Iraqi officials are hoping a sharp improvement in security will draw Western tourists to ancient sites like the biblical city of Babylon, home to King Nebuchadnezzar’s Hanging Gardens.

“International support is badly needed to complete works of maintenance, rehabilitation and training,” said Qahtan al-Jiboubi, Iraq’s Minister of Tourism of Antiquities.

High on the list is the national museum in Baghdad, once a trove of ancient artefacts which was plundered after the 2003 invasion while U.S. troops stood by.

Around 6,000 items out of the approximately 15,000 which were stolen when order collapsed after the fall of Saddam Hussein were back on display in February.

Officials from Greece, Egypt and Italy, each of which have much experience managing their own antiquities, attended a meeting in Baghdad to launch Iraq’s appeal for help.

There has already been some international assistance. Italy rehabilitated two museum exhibition halls from the Assyrian and Islamic periods.

The United States has donated cash to the museum and to help restore Babylon, which was looted, rebuilt by Saddam in a cavalier fashion and used as military base since 2003.

The head of Iraq’s tourism and antiquities board, Qais Hussein, said target sites included the al-Hadba minaret and ancient city of Namroud in Mosul, the medieval Islamic city of Samarra and an historic minaret in western Anbar province.

He estimated each site would cost almost a million dollars.



To Catch a Looter

San Salvador

AS United States troops begin withdrawing from Iraq, we should take stock of the staggering damage that Iraq’s ancient archeological sites have suffered from looting over the last few years. After the 2003 invasion, swarms of looters dug huge pits and passages all over southern Iraq in search of cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals. At Isin, where a Sumerian city once stood, I watched men sifting through tons of soil for 4,000-year-old objects to sell to Baghdadi dealers. It was mass pillage.

The worst of the looting appears to be over, say the experts who monitor archeological sites with armed inspections and aerial photographs. With security improving, Iraqi authorities now have the chance to bring long-lasting protection to what’s left of the country’s ancient heritage. They could take some pointers from an unexpected place: Peru.

In 1994, residents of eight villages in northwestern Peru — a region of deserts and oases that looks much like Iraq — organized citizens’ patrols. The patrols weren’t out to stop house burglars or cattle rustlers. They were looking for looters, who, for several years, had plundered the area to feed the robust international market for pre-Inca artifacts.

I spent a few days with one of these patrols in the village of Ucupe in 2002. The members were unarmed and well organized, and they knew the terrain as well as you know your dining room. When they spotted looters digging up the overgrown ancient burial mounds that dot the landscape, they surrounded them and called the police. In this way, I saw the patrols apprehend three potential looters without firing a shot.

Last year, archeologists excavated an intact tomb at Ucupe that contained the remains of a lord who ruled during the Moche civilization around A.D. 450. He was buried with golden headdresses, war clubs, silver rattles and opulent jewelry. If sold piecemeal on the black market, these objects could have fetched millions. Instead, their discovery opened the door to a new understanding of how power was exercised in the Moche world.

Without the civilian patrols, this tomb would certainly have been emptied by looters. The people of Ucupe will now benefit from the archaeological tourism that often follows such discoveries and that, in Peru, is booming. They protected a community asset, and it paid off.

This kind of grassroots organizing — where local officials, police officers and archaeologists join forces with local residents — is the best way to combat looting and protect sites from being swallowed up by the illicit antiquities trade. A similar strategy has proved effective in Mali, a country that has little in common with Peru besides a rich archaeological heritage. It would work in Iraq and elsewhere.

Surprisingly, though, relatively few governments have focused on getting rural people involved in protecting threatened sites. Most spend their energy pressing museums in the United States or Europe to repatriate looted artifacts, instead of focusing on safeguarding the archaeological riches still in the ground. Repatriation is a valuable goal, but an immense amount of historical information is lost whenever looting occurs and sites are damaged, even if the objects are later recovered. The government’s time would be better spent expanding the patrols to prevent looting in the first place.

In Iraq, the authorities could start by inviting provincial museums and archaeologists to work with local governments and police departments on organizing residents who live near key ancient sites. Rural citizens’ patrols aren’t expensive — they need binoculars, cellphones, maybe a few dirt bikes and some basic training. Financing could come from international conservation and community development organizations and should include money for education to encourage people to see the ruins in their midst as valuable community assets as much as potable water or clean streets. Once organized, the patrols need to be lightly armed if armed at all, and they have to be well regulated by the police. But as the good citizens of Ucupe have shown, they work.

Roger Atwood, a contributing editor at Archaeology magazine, is the author of “Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers and the Looting of the Ancient World.”


Current Watch Site: Al-Hadba’ Minaret

Known by locals as al-Hadba’, or the hunchback, because of its precarious slant, the minaret of the Great Nur al-Din Mosque is one of the primary landmarks of the old city of Mosul. Built by the Seljuk ruler Nur al-Din al-Zangi Atabeg, it was part of a religious complex including a mosque and a madrassa named for its patron. At the time of its completion in 1172, the minaret was 150 feet (45 meters) high, with seven ornamental bands of brickwork at different levels around its cylindrical shaft. Five times a day, a muezzin would ascend the spiral stairway and sing the call to prayer from the balcony. By the time the famous traveler Ibn Battutah visited the city in the 14th century, the minaret was already listing significantly and had been given its nickname, which has remained ever since. In 1942, as part of a renovation campaign by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities, the mosque and madrassa were dismantled and reassembled according to a new plan, but the minaret remains as one of the few original elements of the medieval Nur al-Din complex.

The minaret’s tilt has long been a source of concern. Despite efforts in the 1970s to stabilize the structures, cracks have proliferated along the minaret’s base. Meanwhile, some have built houses immediately adjacent to the minaret, and stand to lose their homes–if not their lives–were it ever to topple.

The entire country of Iraq has appeared on the past two Watch lists, emphasizing the ongoing threat to Iraqi cultural heritage sites in the aftermath of the war. It is hoped that listing this specific site, deemed a priority for conservation work by the Iraqi authorities, will draw focused technical assistance to this project and reiterate WMF support for the conservation of Iraq’s heritage.

Known by locals as al-Hadba’, or the hunchback, because of its precarious slant, the minaret of the Great Nur al-Din Mosque is one of the primary landmarks of the old city of Mosul. Built by the Seljuk ruler Nur al-Din al-Zangi Atabeg, it was part of a religious complex including a mosque and a madrassa named for its patron. At the time of its completion in 1172, the minaret was 150 feet (45 meters) high, with seven ornamental bands of brickwork at different levels around its cylindrical shaft. Five times a day, a muezzin would ascend the spiral stairway and sing the call to prayer from the balcony. By the time the famous traveler Ibn Battutah visited the city in the 14th century, the minaret was already listing significantly and had been given its nickname, which has remained ever since. In 1942, as part of a renovation campaign by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities, the mosque and madrassa were dismantled and reassembled according to a new plan, but the minaret remains as one of the few original elements of the medieval Nur al-Din complex.

The minaret’s tilt has long been a source of concern. Despite efforts in the 1970s to stabilize the structures, cracks have proliferated along the minaret’s base. Meanwhile, some have built houses immediately adjacent to the minaret, and stand to lose their homes–if not their lives–were it ever to topple.

The entire country of Iraq has appeared on the past two Watch lists, emphasizing the ongoing threat to Iraqi cultural heritage sites in the aftermath of the war. It is hoped that listing this specific site, deemed a priority for conservation work by the Iraqi authorities, will draw focused technical assistance to this project and reiterate WMF support for the conservation of Iraq’s heritage.



Neglect, Not Looting, Threatens Iraq Sites, Study Says

Fears of the continued plunder of ancient antiquities in war-torn Iraq may be laid to rest, according to a new survey of eight of the most important archaeological sites in the south of the country.

An international team of scholars who visited the historic sites in June found no obvious evidence of recent looting, according to a report recently published by the British Museum in London.

The findings came as a surprise to antiquities experts and scholars who had expected continued destruction of Iraqi heritage sites after the U.S. invaded in 2003.

“We didn’t see any new looting at the eight sites, which was really very, very encouraging,” said team member Elizabeth Stone, a Mesopotamia specialist from Stony Brook University in New York.

While the study team cautions that the situation may be very different elsewhere in Iraq, the findings suggest a dramatically improved situation at the eight locations since 2003, when widespread illegal digging was recorded in the region.

The survey, however, uncovered other significant damage to ancient Mesopotamian monuments caused by neglect and military activity.

The British Museum-led expedition to Basra and three other southern provinces was supported by the British Army, which provided armed security and helicopter transport.

Using high-resolution satellite images from 2003, Stone, a National Geographic Society grantee, identified extensive looting at more than 200 sites in southern Iraq.

Larsa, an important second millennium B.C. city nearly 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of modern-day Baghdad, was among the badly looted sites visited by the team.

“If there was major recent looting there we would have expected to find it,” Stone said. “But I didn’t see anything that was there in late 2003 or early 2004.”

Looting activity identified at other southern sites, including Tell el-‘Oueili, Tell al-Lahm, Lagash, and Eridu, is also thought to have occurred at least four years ago.


Sumerian Capital

Other types of damage were revealed at sites such as Ur, capital of the Sumerian civilization from 2100 to 2000 B.C.

Famous for its terraced temple, called a ziggurat, and royal tombs, Ur was hit during the bombing of the adjacent Tallil Airbase in the first Gulf War (1990-1991).

Stone says one of the temples, the Kassite temple next to the ziggurat, has “deteriorated considerably” since she last inspected it in 1992.

She now suspects the bombing may have cracked a protective concrete covering, allowing water to erode the temple’s ancient brickwork.

The team additionally found that walls of the royal tombs have begun to collapse.

“In places like Ur we’re seeing this kind of wear and tear,” Stone said.

Damage to monuments caused by Iraqi defensive positions dug prior to the 2003 invasion and subsequent potentially harmful uncontrolled access by coalition troops was also highlighted in the report.

“Tens of thousands of military boots tramping over an archaeological site is not what we want,” observed team member Paul Collins, curator of later Mesopotamian collections at the British Museum.

But, overall, the most serious threat is neglect, Collins said.

“The ongoing problem is not so much looting or military damage, it is the fact that these sites have faced 30 years of neglect,” he said. “The lack of resources for the Iraqi Department of Antiquities means they simply haven’t been able to inspect the sites or do conservation or restoration work.”

Many ancient buildings “are simply eroding away,” Collins said.

The apparent halt to looting at the study sites may be partly due to better security since Iraq’s Facilities Protection Service (FPS) was set up with Italian assistance in 2003, Collins said.

The FPS started as a unit of 4,000 government-building guards and by 2006 had grown into a paramilitary force of nearly 145,000. U.S. officials have repeatedly called it unreliable.

However, Collins said the research team found the FPS to be very effective. “They turned up, fully armed, at several of the sites we visited,” he said.

At some sites local tribes have taken responsibility for guarding ancient artifacts from potential looters, he added.


Not the Whole Picture?

Collins stresses that the study gives only a limited snapshot of the current situation in Iraq.

“It’s just eight sites out of tens of thousands of archaeological sites, most of them unexplored,” he said.

Similar surveys need to be undertaken across Iraq to “really get a picture of what did happen and what the situation is now,” he added.

Lawrence Rothfield, director of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, believes there are good reasons why the sites visited by the team didn’t show evidence of recent looting.

Some sites were located near or within coalition bases, while others “did not contain artifacts of interest to collectors,” Rothfield wrote in an email.

“There is plentiful evidence that serious plundering of sites since 2003 has occurred,” Rothfield said.

He noted, for instance, that Polish and Italian forces in Iraq have reported “widespread looting” and “continuous and methodical illicit digging.”

“We know that as of 2006, 17,000 artifacts looted from unregistered archaeological sites had been recovered, surely only a fraction of what has been lost,” Rothfield said.

“If there is any grounds for optimism from this report,” he said, “it is that it shows that an intelligently devised anti-looting policy by the military could have prevented much of the looting that has occurred, and that future looting can be controlled as well, if the Iraqis can get the support they need to do the job.”



US Ratifies Treaty to Protect Cultural Property in Time of War

On September 25, 2008, the United States Senate voted to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. This international convention regulates the conduct of nations during war and military occupation in order to assure the protection of cultural sites, monuments, and repositories, including museums, libraries, and archives. Written in the wake of the widespread cultural devastation perpetrated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and modeled on instructions given by General Dwight Eisenhower to aid in the preservation of Europe’s cultural legacy, the Hague Convention is the oldest international agreement to address exclusively cultural-heritage preservation. The US now joins 121 other nations in becoming a party to this historic treaty. By taking this significant step, the US demonstrates its commitment to the preservation of the world’s cultural, artistic, religious, and historic legacy.

Although the US signed the convention soon after its writing, the Pentagon objected to ratification because of increasing cold-war tensions. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union did the US military withdraw its objections, and President Bill Clinton transmitted the convention to the Senate in 1999. The public attention given to the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in 2003 and the looting of archaeological sites in southern Iraq during the ensuing years revived interest in the convention, and the Senate finally voted to give its advice and consent to ratification last week.

A number of understandings were established in connection with the ratification, mostly to ensure that the convention does not interfere substantially with the US military’s ability to wage war. The final element of the ratification is a “declaration,” which states that the treaty, though self-executing: (a) does not require the US government to prosecute anyone who violates the convention (implicitly meaning that such prosecution is required only if a US law is also violated); and (b) does not give individual persons a right of redress in US courts.

Peter Tompa at the Cultural Property Observer provides a summary and commentary on what happened in the Senate. CAA has posted PDFs of both the introduction of the Hague Convention to the Senate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the ratification of the treaty, from the Congressional Record.


Statements by Hague Convention Advocates

While US policy has been to follow the principles of the convention, ratification will raise the imperative of protecting cultural heritage during conflict, including the incorporation of heritage preservation into military planning; ratification will also clarify the United States’ obligations and encourage the training of military personnel in cultural-heritage preservation and the recruitment of cultural-heritage professionals into the military. Cori Wegener, president of the US Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS), noted that “Ratification of the Hague Convention provides a renewed opportunity to highlight cultural-property training for US military personnel at all levels, and to call attention to cultural-property considerations in the early stages of military planning. The US Committee of the Blue Shield will continue its commitment to offering cultural-property training and coordination with the US military and to increase public awareness about the 1954 Hague Convention and its international symbol, the Blue Shield.”

Patty Gerstenblith, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP), cited among the advantages of ratification, “Most importantly, it sends a clear signal to other nations that the United States respects their cultural heritage and will facilitate US cooperation with its allies and coalition partners in achieving more effective preservation efforts in areas of armed conflict.”

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has advocated ratification of the Hague Convention for more than fifteen years. John Russell, AIA vice president for professional responsibilities, commented that “By ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention, the US has affirmed its commitment to protecting cultural property during armed conflict. The Archaeological Institute of America will continue to work with the Department of Defense to integrate the Convention’s provisions fully and consistently into the US military training curriculum at all levels.”

Since the founding of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation in 2004 and of the US Committee of the Blue Shield in 2006, ratification has been among their primary priorities. AIA, LCCHP, and USCBS formed a coalition of preservation organizations that submitted testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of ratification and worked with members of the Senate to achieve this historic step. The Statement in Support of US Ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention urging Senate ratification, joined by twelve other cultural preservation organizations, is available from LCCHP.

LCCHP acknowledges the additional assistance of the Society for American Archaeology and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the effort to achieve ratification of the Hague Convention.


CAA Standards and Guidelines

CAA has advocated for the ratification of the convention for decades. CAA has also published its own Standards and Guidelines on issues related to international cultural heritage: the CAA Statement on the Importance of Documenting the Historical Context of Objects and Sites (2004), A Code of Ethics for Art Historians and Guidelines for the Professional Practice of Art History (1995), part of which addresses trafficking in works of art; and the Resolution Concerning the Acquisition of Cultural Properties Originating in Foreign Countries (1973).