End timeâ€™s experts all over the world should be salivating over this article on the rebuilding of Babylon in the New York Times.
That is certainly years away given the realities of todayâ€™s Iraq. But for the first time since the American invasion in 2003, after years of neglect and violence, archaeologists and preservationists have once again begun working to protect and even restore parts of Babylon and other ancient ruins of Mesopotamia. And there are new sites being excavated for the first time, mostly in secret to avoid attracting the attention of looters, who remain a scourge here.
The World Monuments Fund, working with Iraqâ€™s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, has drafted a conservation plan to combat any further deterioration of Babylonâ€™s mud-brick ruins and reverse some of the effects of time and Mr. Husseinâ€™s propagandistic and archaeologically specious re-creations.
In November, the State Department announced a new $2 million grant to begin work to preserve the siteâ€™s most impressive surviving ruins. They include the foundation of the Ishtar Gate, built in the sixth century B.C. by Nebuchadnezzarâ€™s father, Nabopolassar, and adorned with brick reliefs of the Babylonian gods Marduk and Adad. (The famous blue-glazed gate that Nebuchadnezzar commissioned was excavated in the early 20th century and rebuilt in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.)
The objective is to prepare the site and other ruins â€” from Ur in the south to Nimrud in the north â€” for what officials hope will someday be a flood of scientists, scholars and tourists that could contribute to Iraqâ€™s economic revival almost as much as oil.