Spiralling out of control

A quick addendum to our last post. You can be sure that archaeological sites all over Iraq are in danger. The Art Newspaper has just reported this, a police barracks being built on a site next to Samarra’s famous spiral minaret.

Alastair Northedge, Professeur d’Art et d’Archeologie Islamiques, Universite de Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne) comments

From the angle of the photo, it is possible to calculate that the complex is being built at E 396388 N 3785995 (UTM Zone 38 North) or Lat. 34.209760° Long. 43.875325°, to the west of the Malwiya (Spiral Minaret), and behind the Spiral Cafe. While the point itself may not have more than Abbasid houses under the ground, it is adjacent to the palace of Sur Isa, the remains of which can be seen in the photo. While the initial construction might or might not touch the palace, accompanying activities will certainly spread over it.

Sur Isa can be identified with the palace of al-Burj, built by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil, probably in 852-3 (Northedge, Historical Topography of Samarra, pp 125-127, 240). The palace is said to have cost 33 million dirhams, and was luxurious. Details are given by al-Shabushti, Kitab al-Diyarat.

Samarra was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO at the end of June. The barracks could easily have been built elsewhere, off the archaeological site.

The report was based on info from the blog of Jeff Emmanuel, a reporter with US Special Forces. Since it’s Halloween here’s something really deathly freaky and scary – his opinions.

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