Thursday, June 17, 2010


I will likely never see the true ziggaurat of Ur, the site of the most well preserved remaining Mesopotamian pyramid of the Sumerians from nearly 5000 years ago.  This is one of the things, if things were different, I would like to see in Iraq.  I fear that this will not be a peaceful place to visit as a tourist for many years, if ever, and possibly not in my lifetime.  [So sad that this is true for the large majority of this part of the world].  Alas, 20th-century ziggaurats within the walls of this base will have to suffice.

For reasons mysterious to me, a French company, contracted by the Iraqi military, built several bunkers shaped liked ziggaurats around the base (maybe the French were clairvoyant and preparing for Desert Storm which they supported).  Some of these bunkers are simple 2-3 rooms structures with air handling systems.  Others, are much more complex with dozens of connecting tunnels and rooms (see above left).  Unfortunately, for Sadaam, the bunkers were able to be busted after all (see above right), so these are essentially non-functional piles of bricks and twisted metal littering the base - and the country, as I understand.  From the pictures, it is also clear to see the thousands of circulating dust particles reflecting the flash of the camera (see below left).  Big explosion followed by 7 years of no air handling in this dessicated wasteland equals a real pulmonary workout - masks recommended.

Walking through this eerie, man-made underground maze was exhilirating.  It felt as though we were driving a submarine through the wreckage of the Titanic for the first time, complete with equal amounts of debris and filth; though, realistically, nothing could be farther from the truth, it was fun to be exploring, unraveling a mystery, and imagining, in our minds, what happened in these places before the war.

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