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Today projects are underway at the Freer-Sackler Galleries (Washington), at the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Berlin) and at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) to research, catalogue, photograph, and conserve their Samarra collections.With the stabilization of political conditions at the end of the War, foreign archaeologists were eager to excavate in Iraq.This viewpoint was encouraged by the British Museum, which argued that the finds were valuable research materials and that, in any case, Iraq itself lacked any archaeological expertise.The Foreign and India Offices preferred that antiquities be returned to Iraq, citing General Maude’s declaration.The first shipment to leave Basra were 448 boxes of Assur’s antiquities.But the War broke out when the ship was near Portugal, and took refuge in Lisbon.Eventually in 1921 then Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill ordered their shipment to London.The Foreign Office strongly protested, for the shipment was made without its permission.

The British therefore, as the authority over Iraq, claimed that the Assur antiquities in Lisbon should be given to them.

Meanwhile, great interest in the Samarra collection arose among international museums and they were divided among seventeen museums in Europe, the United States and Canada; only small samples were reserved for the future Iraq Museum.


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