Struggling to save the past

Published 2:28 PM ET, Mon July 20, 2015
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A visitor to Berlin's Pergamon Museum admires the reconstructed Ishtar Gate from Babylon, Iraq. The creatures shown on the gate come from hundreds of thousands of fragments that were found by a German archaeological expedition in Babylon from 1899 until 1917. Ben Wedeman/CNN
The fragments of Babylon's Ishtar Gate were later reassembled. The artifact is now on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Babylon, south of Baghdad, is under Iraqi government control. Ben Wedeman/CNN
A museum visitor takes notes in front of one of the figures on Babylon's Ishtar Gate. A replica now stands in Babylon. The original was built in about 575 B.C. by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II as the eighth gate to the inner city. Archaeologists say excavations and conservation work carried out under Saddam Hussein's rule greatly despoiled the site. Ben Wedeman/CNN
Figures are depicted on a relief of the Assyrian royal guard from Nineveh in northern Iraq. Nineveh is in an area now under ISIS control. Berlin-based group Heritage for Peace is working to trace and document the looting and destruction of Syria's ancient heritage. The region has been threatened by the presence of ISIS and organized crime. Ben Wedeman/CNN
A relief of a lion hunt from Tell Halaf is on display in the Pergamon Museum collection. Tell Halaf is located in what is now northeastern Syria. The remains of an ancient palace were discovered there in 1899. The area is now under Kurdish control. Many statues from Tell Halaf were destroyed during the British bombing of Berlin in World War II. Ben Wedeman/CNN
A highly detailed relief from Babylon, Iraq, is on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The museum houses a large collection of reconstructions from modern-day Iraq and Syria. Pergamon claims the most visitors among German museums. Ben Wedeman/CNN