Iraq’s Cultural Heritage between 2003 and 2023

March 2023 marked the 20-year anniversary of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Among the countless impacts of the war, violence and reconstruction efforts that followed has been their effects on Iraq’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Following the collapse of the government, looting occurred at an unprecedented scale—the most well-publicized instance was the looting of the national museum of Iraq (founded as the Baghdad Archaeological Museum nearly one hundred years ago in 1926), from which 15,000 artifacts were stolen over 36 hours in April of 2003. Meanwhile, displacement and violence following the expansion of ISIS in 2014 led not only to the destruction of heritage sites but to the targeting of minority cultures.