Tags / Antiquities
Opinions of Assyrians in Erbil, Iraq about the abduction of 150 Assyrians in Syria and the destruction of historical artifacts in Mosul.
November 30, 2014
An intimate look into the daily lives of several young men scrounging for objects of archaeological value in the countryside of Aleppo province, Syria. Though both the interviewed men and the specific area in which they are digging for archaeological remnants remain unknown and anonymous, the men delve into their motives for unearthing whatever objects they can find: first to support themselves and second, to support the revolution. To do so, they must contact potential buyers in Turkey (who serve as middle men for selling further abroad); locate particular objects of value; avoid digging in areas under control of rival groups, factions and parties; and avoid the ploys of other smugglers and diggers to keep them from locating certain valuable objects (by using decoys).
(Arabic, man) (01:24-01:29) We're very poor, so poor that we cannot even afford bread. That is the situation of each person who works in artifacts.
(Arabic, man) (04:21-04:31) We are hoping to find gold, so we can use it to support the revolution. We have been here for three days.
(Arabic, man) (04:32-04:39) We are here to look for gold because we do not have work, or anything.
(Arabic, man) (04:40-06:22) Interviewer: if you find gold, what do you do with it?
We export it to Turkey, and then there are people in Turkey who sell it to other countries.
Interviewer: what do you wish to do with gold or artifacts if you find any?
I wish to use them to improve our living conditions, to support the revolution, and to help those poor families who cannot even afford food. Personally, for myself, I wish to buy a house, help my family and help all the poor. Half of the people here are not working. We want to support them and support the FSA.
Interviewer: when you find artifacts and sell them, don't you feel guilty that you are taking something which is not yours and selling it?
Those things do not belong to anyone, we dig and work for months and hardly get anything, so I do not think it is wrong, and these are old things.
We are working very hard to get them; previously we weren't able to drill, but here it is easier. The FSA are good people, but when the regime was in control, we could not do this work because whoever got caught would be executed.
(Arabic, man) (06:31-06:37) The tools that we use are very basic, the shovel, the fork and other similar tools
(Arabic, man) (06:50-07:30) We have been working very hard for three months to find gold or artifacts, and until now, have found nothing. We hope to improve our situation, maybe buy a house or a car, because our current situation is very bad, and maybe we can help the poor.
(Arabic, man) (09:15-10:52) We took pictures of this statue and sent it to foreign merchants, but they were not interested. They said they wanted the treasury that contains the gold. However, we cannot get the treasury because it is buried in a mountain where we cannot go, it is an area controlled by a certain party. They saw the picture and did not want it. They wanted the gold. They told us that they used to place statues like that so that when someone found it, he would think it was the treasure and would stop searching for the gold. They did not want it, they wanted the gold.
(Arabic, man) (10:55-11:57) I am Abu Omar, I work with an archeologist, we found this in a grotto, this is a part of a mosaic floor, it is about 2000 years old. We do not have told to take out properly, so it broke into many pieces. This can be sold for almost 50,000$, but now after it all broke. it is no longer worth anything.
Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa is flanked by Egyptian media as he answers questions about the excavation of King Khufu's 4,500 year old solar boat.
The solar boat museum and excavation site stands dwarfed next to the Great Pyramids. Inside, tourists are able to see the first solar boat extracted from beneath the pyramids. Archaeologists hope that in a few years, tourists will be able to the second, fully assembled boat.
A member of the Egyptian media leaves the enclosed area where the excavation process has been happening. As a result of the precautions taken by the excavation team, very few people are allowed to enter the sealed area, and those that enter the excavation site are required to wear masks and suits.
A Japanese reporter examines the first piece of wood extracted from King Khufu's solar boat. The wood was only exposed for 15-20 minutes before it was wrapped up in order to prevent further decay.
A Japanese archaeologist rushes back to the excavation site to as members from the Egyptian and Japanese delegation arrive at the site. Behind him lies the pyramid of Khufu, the pharaoh whose boat the team has been excavating.
Flanked by bodyguards, the Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa makes his way to the excavation site to oversee the removal of wood strips from the solar boat.
The wood from the boat, while degraded severely in some areas, is still quite well preserved. Because of the desert climate, archaeologists will have a much easier time preserving the boat than if it had been found in a more humid climate.
The excavation site for the second pharaonic solar boat, sits below the Khufu pyramid of Giza. Discovered in 1992, the excavation site also serves as a museum for the first, fully assembled solar boat.
Members of the press as well as the excavation teams wait in an impromptu tent for the arrival of the Minister of State for Antiquities.
Leaders of the excavation team listen to the Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa answer questions.
The Minister of State for Antiquities holds a joint press conference with the leader of the Japanese delegation. The Japanese embassy, along with Nitori Holding Company have played a large role in the excavation process.
An Egyptian worker, part of the excavation process of a 4,500 year old solar boat, enters the small tent set up to house the press conference.
Archeologists from the Egyptian and Japanese teams carefully wrap up one of the first pieces of the 4,500 year old solar boat. The boat is believed to have belonged to King Khufu, and it was meant to ferry him and the god Ra across the heavens.
The Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa removes his mask to answer questions for the media. In order to enter the excavation area, workers and members of the delegations must wear suits and face coverings.
Japanese archaeologists from Waseda University have worked alongside Egyptian colleagues since 2007. They are in the process of removing and preserving the boat, with the end goal of displaying it for the Egyptian public.
Members of the Egyptian archeological team take a break as members of the government enter the area to inspect the excavation. All workers wear suits to prevent contamination of the site.
The Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa discusses the excavation process with the archeological team. The wood is at risk for damage from insects and pollution.
Almost 26 years ago, the American National Geographic Society inserted a small camera through a hole in the limestone to view the boat for the first time. Unfortunately, the hole allowed insects in. Along with the pollution, the insects have devastated much of the boat's wood pieces.
Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa talks with members of the archeological team. He helped remove the first pieces of the boat alongside members of the Japanese delegation. Eissa is a specialist in early Coptic Christian and Islamic art.
A member of the Egyptian archeological team examines a beam of wood from the 4,500 year old solar boat. Discovered in 1992, excavators have been working hard to begin the removal of pieces of the boat for transport.
The team from Waseda University will painstakingly digitize all of the pieces that are removed from the site. The aim is to construct a 3d computer model of the boat. This will allow the archaeologists to study and assemble the boat.
Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa discusses the excavation process with the teams from Japan and Egypt. Mr Eissa was appointed to this post in May, 2013. Prior to his ministerial position, he worked with early Coptic and Islamic art and architecture.
Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa and the Japanese archaeological delegation answer questions at a press conference set for the Khufu Solar Boat excavation in Giza, Egypt. Discovered in 1992, excavators have been working hard to begin the removal of pieces of the boat to transport the 4,500 year old wooden ship.