Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Bettina Arnold

Committee Members

Patricia Richards, Robert Jeske


Archaeology, Asia, Looting, Middle East, Nationalism, Politicization


Archeological resources have been used by political regimes to further their own interests since the discipline was established in the late 19th century. Regime-backed 20th century dictators in Iraq, Iran and Egypt understood that whoever controls a nation’s archeological resources controls its memory and its people. However, power changes hands and archeological resources are not immune to the shifting of power, be it through external conflict such as an invasion or internal conflict such as a revolution. In situations where the ruling party is overthrown and a power vacuum forms, destructive activities such as looting and land development increase and it is often a struggle to get the new governments to recognize archeological resources as having value. This thesis explores how archeological resources were affected when power changed hands in Iraq under the Ba’athist regime led by Saddam Hussein and after his removal. The focus will be on how different political, societal, and academic forces interacted with archaeological resources in Iraq after the 2003 invasion and the rise of ISIS/ISIL. Identifying the patterns and preconditions that characterize such transitions can help to mitigate negative impacts under similar circumstances elsewhere in the future.