The whims of a dictator, war, and salt water erosion have all contributed to the deterioration of one of the wonders of the ancient world in Iraq.
Babylon, built about 3,879 years ago, suffered under the weight of Saddam Hussein’s 1980s emulation of King Nebuchadnezzar, building his own palace on top of Babylon’s north palace. The weight of modern stones, concrete, and erosion caused by new salt water canals near the ancient palace have caused great damage to the site.
The structural and environmental impact of Saddam’s palace coupled with poor attempts at restoration twice kept Babylon from being recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.
During the US occupation, the ancient city was home to US and Polish troops whose trucks and helicopters further damaged the one-time centre of astronomy, science, and culture.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad on efforts to restore this wonder of the ancient world.