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Operation Iraqi Freedom IMINT - April 02, 2003

Imagery Released on 04/02/03 by the Australian Department of Defence

Satellite imagery of the museum complex at Ctesiphon, Iraq. Shown on the roof is the symbol of protection as a special site under the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property
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Imagery of the museum complex at Ctesiphon, Iraq, shown from another angle with military vehicles lined up in the car park. These photos were taken in mid March, and the were vehicles since moved elsewhere. According to the Australian DoD, this image is an example of the type of cultural protection issue being faced by the coalition
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Ctesiphon is located 20 miles SE of Baghdad, and has a tumultuous history, passing from the hands of one ancient empire to another. The city was built on the ruins of Opis on the left bank of the Tigris river. Its history is intertwined with the city of Seleucia, located just opposite of Ctesiphon across the Tigris river. Seleucia was built at the end of the 4th century by king Seleucus. The Parthians moved the western capital of their empire from Seleucia to Opis, and it was at this time that the city was renamed Ctesiphon. The city became an important trade and cultural destination in the ancient world. After 129 BCE the Parthinian kings used it as their winter home.

The year 43 CE saw an end to the rebellion of Seleucia against the Parthinian King Vardeanes. The conflict served to further Ctesiphon's importance due to the military utility its proximity to Seleucia provided. Ammiaus Marcellinus, a Roman historian, identified Vardanes as the "founder of Ctesiphon," meaning Vardanes did something that improved the stature of the city. Later, in the same era, walls were added and Ctesiphon encompassed 30 square kilometers.

Rome, which had hopes of toppling the eastern Parthinian Empire, believed the fall of Ctesiphon would prove critical to achieve that. Several Roman emperors were unsucessful in that endeavor, and it was not until Septimius Severus took Ctesiphon and Seleucia in 198 CE that the Parthinina Empire began to collapse. Severus took massive amounts of gold and silver from the Parthinina Empire further weakening the latter.

In 226, the Persian king Ardasir conquered both Ctesiphon and Seleucia, thereby inaugurating the Second Persian Empire.

Over the next century, Ctesiphon would be attacked by various Roman emperors, before being successfully taken in both 262 and 283. In 637, the city was ransacked by Muslims as they conquered Mesopotamia. Ctesiphon was, like its neighboring cities, looted and plundered. The region's government then proceeded to move to the new city of Baghdad after the latter was built in 732.

The ancient city again served as a battleground in 1915 when British troops confronted Turkish opposition forces at the Battle of Ctesiphon. The battle resulted in the defeat of the British forces who were forced to retreat. Taking advantage of apparent confusion within British ranks, the Turks inflicted heavy damages killing or wounding 4,500 on the British side.

This is the emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

This distinctive emblem of the Convention consists of a shield made up "of a royal blue square, one of the angles of which forms the point of the shield, and of a royal-blue triangle above the square, the space on either side being taken up by a white triangle"

For more information, you can visit UNESCO's website on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict or the International Council on Monuments and Sites website

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Page last modified: 27-07-2011 23:53:08 ZULU