UNESCO mission to Nineveh, Iraq

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Description: This image was taken in April 2017 during a UNESCO mission to Nineveh, Iraq, which was heavily destroyed and excavated by ISIS. Destruction of cultural heritage and archaeological looting is a global issue that threatens the preservation of our shared cultural heritage. Illegal excavations have exponentially increased due to the conflicts in the Middle East. Illegal excavation destroys the archaeological context of cultural objects, which is vital for uncovering information about the cultures and people who produced them. Archaeological context gives an artifact a story, and connects it to the larger history of an ancient region. Looters systematically destroy the remains of civilizations in their quest for sellable artefacts. If these same artefacts were properly excavated, they could have provided very valuable historical and scientific information.