We have been spared the recent memory of global wars, such as the First World War, but armed conflict on a national or regional scale and sectarianism continues uninterrupted by the efforts of international politics and undeterred by legal protections.
In March 2003 the United States and a Coalition of nations began the Iraq War (Eck and Gerstenblith 2004:469-470). The Coalition avoided targeting cultural sites and moments, to comply with the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, but totally failed to prevent the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad from being looted (Emberling 2008:7). Journalists, who were embedded within the Coalition forces, created a storm of condemnation of their failure to protect the wealth of cultural heritage contained within the museum (Bogdanos 2005:479). Happily, the looting was significantly less than reported and the journalistic hyperbole provoked discussion and activity among archaeologists to redefine our ethical responsibilities for the protection of institutions, sites and artefacts (w…