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No guards to protect 700 Mesopotamian sites in Iraq’s Kirkuk

By Shaymaa Adel

March 10, 2012

There are 700 archaeologically significant sites in the northern Province of Kirkuk but there are only 20 guards to protect them from smugglers and illegal diggers, the head Antiquities Department in the province said.

Qais Rasheed said most of these ancient mounds were located in farms outside the province. Others, he said, were located close to rivers.

"The archaeology department in Kirkuk has surveyed the province and has registered 700 mounds as archaeologically significant," he said

Unprotected, these sites could easily be targeted by smugglers and illegal diggers, he said.

Rasheed said allocations for Kirkuk antiquities were insufficient and only enough to pay 20 guards.

"I urge the government to increase our allocations so that we can appoint more guards and build fences to protect Kirkuk’s ancient sites," he said.

He said there were already "encroachments" on several ancient mounds in the province.

"We have registered 60 violations of some of the richest ancient sites in Kirkuk," he said.

Kirkuk is famous for its castle with splendid Ottoman style houses. The castle itself is built on a huge ancient mound which archaeologists say it was used as a metropolitan by successive Mesopotamian civilizations that flourished in the area.

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