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Press Release from the Multi-National Force - Iraq
http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27135&Itemid=128

Preserving the Ancient City of Babylon

Saturday, 04 July 2009

HILLAH — Soldiers of the 172nd Infantry Brigade are enabling documentarians, historians and
preservationists as they work to ensure ancient Iraqi history is preserved and documented in Babil
province.

The Soldiers provide these experts transportation and security as they conduct site surveys of
Babylon, an ancient city near the modern city of Hillah

The Babil Provincial Reconstruction Team hosted the World Monuments Fund as the surveys were
conducted to determine the possibility of making the Babylon ruins a sustainable historic and
tourism site and to develop responsible tourism associated with the ruins.

The World Monuments Fund is a New York-based private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the
preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites worldwide through fieldwork,
education and training. The WMF is launching a project with Iraq to preserve the ancient city of
Babylon, where King Nebuchadnezzar II, whose life spanned 630-562 B.C., built his hanging gardens,
one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

"We are involving the local populace in the solutions to create a sustainable situation," said Jeff
Allen, the project team leader. "What you don't want to do is develop something that outsiders are
just going to profit from. You want something where the local populace benefits from it."

"Future tourism will be one of the tools for economic development in Iraq, and we fear that Babylon
could be eaten up by unmanaged development like the paving of roads," World Monuments President
Bonnie Burnham stated at the beginning of the project. "The city has never been mapped, and there
have been very dramatic changes to it."

Gwendolen Cates, an independent filmmaker, is making a documentary titled "Mourning in the Garden of
Eden," illustrating the historical significance of the history of Babylon.

"I am making a documentary of the cultural heritage of Iraq and connecting the past to the present
and how that relates to us," said Cates, a native of New York City. Cates started this project in
2003, when she served as an embedded photojournalist with U.S. Army Military Intelligence in Iraq.

"Iraq has a lot of diversity and many Americans do not know about Babylon and where it is," added
Cates. "Bringing tourism back to Iraq is one of the main purposes of this project."

"Iraqi heritage belongs to all humanity," Samir Sumaida'ie, Iraq's ambassador to the U.S., said in a
statement. "In the immense task of caring for its world heritage, Iraq welcomes help from and
collaborations with the international preservation community."

(By Capt. Stephen Short, 172nd Infantry Brigade)
   
         
         
   

 

   
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