Ch. E. Jones
(The Oriental Institute, Chicago, USA)

In the months preceding the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq in March 2003, efforts were made – mostly by individuals – to raise the public profile of potential risks to cultural property in Iraq. Several members of the Oriental Institute staff met repeatedly with officials of the US government, and supplied lists of archaeological sites believed to be at risk and provided detailed information on the locations of these sites. Small groups of these individuals in Chicago and elsewhere shared information among themselves, using electronic and telephonic media, as well as private face-to-face communication. Little effort was made to develop new media, or to make use of existing electronic media to inform a broader scholarly community of such efforts or to document their specifics or to organize and distribute information on political actions beyond the solicitation of signatures for petitions.
Shortly after the outbreak of the war, efforts began to coalesce, primarily in response to the anarchic destruction of cultural institutions in the vacuum of authority following the precipitous collapse of the Baathist government.
In Chicago, we formed an Iraq Working Group, whose efforts have focused on Communication, Documentation and Visualization – with all efforts focused on electronic data collection, manipulation, presentation and distribution. The development of publicly accessible, and cooperatively organized central places for the coordination and communication of efforts in response to the continuing destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage are at the core of the efforts of the Chicago group.
This talk will focus on the work of the Iraq Working Group, and will present this work in the context of global response to the crisis in Iraq, and of the developing role of electronic communication in scholarly discourse.