After the U.S. troops entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003, at least 13,000 artifacts were stolen during the looting, including many moved from other sites into the National Museum for safekeeping. U.S. American troops and tanks were stationed in that area but without orders to stop the looting "watched for several days before moving against the thieves."
The beautiful Warka vase, carved in 3000BC, was recovered though smashed into 14 pieces.
The exquisite Lyre of Ur, the world's most ancient musical instrument, was found badly damaged. Clerics in Sadr City were ingeniously asked to tell wives to refuse to sleep with their husbands if looted objects were not returned, with some success. Nothing could be done about the fire-gutted national library and the loss of five centuries of Ottoman records (and works by Piccasso and Miro).
The archaeology awareness playing cards are a set of playing cards developed by the United States Department of Defense designed to educate members of the United States military that are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan about the importance of respecting ancient monuments, in order to try and preserve the Iraqi and Afghan national cultural heritage:
About the cards;
* Ace ♠: "Ancient walls of mud brick are easily damaged."
* King ♠: "Many DoD sites in the US have protected archaeological sites. Learn more about your home installation." Lewisburg Furnace, Fort Drum, New York, United States of America.
* Queen ♠: "Use a monitor when digging in archaeologically sensitive areas."
* Jack ♠: "Stop digging if you find artifacts or features."
* Ten ♠: "Heavy excavation equipment can do great harm to archaeological sites. Be aware and prepare to stop."
* Nine ♠: "Helicopter rotor wash can damage archaeological sites. Avoid where possible."
* Eight ♠: "Every DoD installation has a cultural resources manager. Call yours with questions about archaeology, history, or culture."
* Seven ♠: "Taking pictures is good. Removing artifacts for souvenirs is not!"
* Six ♠: "Use your camera to document archaeological and historic sites."
* Five ♠: "A looted archaeological site means that details of our common past are lost forever."
* Four ♠: "If possible, fill sandbags with clean earth, free of man-made objects."
* Three ♠: "Leave artifacts like broken pottery or inscribed bricks in place."
* Two ♠: "In the dry climate of the Middle East, a wall of mud brick could be thousands of years old." Qalai Bost, Afghanistan.
* Ace ♣: "The DoD needs your help in protecting heritage resources."
* King ♣: "Remember this international symbol for a PROTECTED CULTURAL SITE."
* Queen ♣: "Remember! The buying and selling of antiquities is not condoned by the U.S. Armed Forces."
* Jack ♣: "Ancient cultural artifacts and objects of art are also heritage resources that must be protected."
* Ten ♣: "A mound or small hill in an otherwise flat landscape could be a sign of ancient human occupation." Tell Rimah, Iraq.
* Nine ♣: "Future generations will be thankful for the monuments and sites spared today." Bent Minaret, Mosul's Great Mosque, Iraq.
* Eight ♣: "Stop digging immediately you find buried walls, broken pottery, or other artifacts. Report what you find!" Ancient walls near Great Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq.
* Seven ♣: "This site has survived for seventeen centuries. Will it survive you?". Ctesiphon Arch, Iraq.
* Six ♣: "Respect ruins wherever possible. They protect you and your cultural history." Samarra Minaret (Malwiya), Iraq.
* Five ♣: "Drive around - not over - archaeological sites".
* Four ♣: "Look before you dig!"
* Three ♣: "No graffiti! Defacing walls or ruins with spray paint or other materials is disrespectful and counterproductive to the mission"
* Two ♣: "Ancient Iraqi heritage is part of your heritage. Old stories say that Jonah of the bible [sic] was buried in this hill." (Naba Yunis Mosque in Mosul, Iraq)
* Ace ♥: "The main goal of archaeology is to understand the past - your past."
* King ♥: "If it's a defensible position today, it may have been for thousands of years. Watch for archaeological remains."
* Queen ♥: "Archaeological sites matter to the local community. Showing respect wins hearts and minds."
* Jack ♥: "Local elders may be a good source of information about cultural heritage and archaeology."
* Ten ♥: "Religious monuments, such as the Bamian Buddhas in Afghanistan, are often targets for intentional destruction during times of conflict." Buddhas of Bamyan, Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan.
* Nine ♥: "The Bible's Tower of Babel referred to an Iraqi Ziggurat." Great Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq.
* Eight ♥: "Iraq's civilisation originated in the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Humans first created agricultural settlements here over 8,000 years ago."
* Seven ♥: "Iraq has been described as the "Cradle of Civilisation." Illustration of the Northwest Palace Throne Room at Nimrud, Iraq.
* Six ♥: The world's oldest complete legal code was found in Iraq on a stone carved with an image of Hammurabi, King of Babylon, ca. 1760 B.C."
* Five ♥: "Protecting archaeological sites helps preserve them for future generations."
* Four ♥: "Protecting art and archaeology is the responsibility of all ranks within a unit."
* Three ♥: "To understand the meaning of an artifact, it must be found and studied in its original setting." Hoard of Sumerian statues, Tell Asmar, Iraq.
* Two ♥: "Ninety-nine percent of mankind's history can only be understood through archaeology". Ancient ruins at Samarra, Iraq.
* Ace ♦: "Buying looted artifacts is forbidden. These objects will be confiscated if discovered."
* King ♦: "Buddhist statuary from Hadda in Afghanistan has been heavily looted for sale on the illegal market."
* Queen ♦: "Monumental art, such as the Bamian Buddhas in Afghanistan, should be preserved in place for all humankind." Buddhas of Bamyan, Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan.
* Jack ♦: "How would you feel if someone stole her torch?" Statue of Liberty, New York, United States of America.
* Ten ♦: "Mesopotamia is considered the birthplace of writing. Clay tablets such as this one are primary evidence." Ancient cuneiform tablet from Nippur, Iraq.
* Nine ♦: "The Joint Interagency Task Force recovered more than 5,000 artifacts, including this one stolen from the Iraq Museum." Mask of Warka.
* Eight ♦: "The Joint Interagency Task Force recovered 62,000 artifacts removed from the Iraq Museum in the years, months, and weeks before the war."
* Seven ♦: "Museums are also victims of warfare and need protection where possible." Kabul Museum, Afghanistan.
* Six ♦: "Thousands of artifacts are disappearing from Iraq and Afghanistan. Report suspicious behaviour."
* Five ♦: "Looters leave destructive holes and tunnels throughout archaeological sites. Report all observed war damage and looting."
* Four ♦: "Report to your OIC any observed looting activity or attempts to sell or purchase ancient artifacts."
* Three ♦: "Purchasing ancient "souvenirs" helps fund insurgents. Do not buy them!"
* Two ♦: "Cylinder seals look like carved pieces of chalk. As with other artifacts, do not buy them!" cylinder seals
The great monument and souk at Kifel, north of Najaf - reputedly the tomb of Ezekiel, have been all but destroyed.
After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Americans built a helicopter pad on the ruins of Babylon and filled their sandbags with archaeological fragments from the ancient city.