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Victors of War Go the Spoils Angers Chaldeans
By Rita Abro :: Thursday, December 4, 2008 :: 111114 Views :: Sports, Art, and Entertainment, Law & Order, Business & Finance, Government & Society

 

New York, USA – Chaldeans and Assyrians in American are appalled at Christie’s Auction House of New York.  “They are war profiteers moving the spoils of war,” says Chaldean art collector Enas Namoo from his downtown Chicago office.  The Chaldean art collector, well known for his Mediterranean art collection, was furious for what he saw in the catalog of the ancient art and antiquities auction at Christie's next week.  Among the collection was a pair of neo-Assyrian earrings established as artifacts of Mesopotamia.  “This belongs in the museum, not on an auction block,” said a angered Namoo.  

 

Along with Namoo, Iraqi authorities have also appealed to have the pair of neo-Assyrian earrings returned.  The 9,000–10,000-year-old earrings are expected to bring in up to $65,000, but Iraqi officials say they are part of the treasures of Nimrud and thus rightfully the property of Iraq.

Chaldean archeologist, art curator, antiquity expert, and former director of the Iraq Museum Donny George says, “I am 100 percent sure they are from the same tombs from Nimrud. I witnessed the excavation."

The treasures of Nimrud were discovered by Iraqi archaeologist Muzahem Hussein after a 19th-century British excavation of Nimrud, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire, missed the royal tombs.

Eight pairs of seemingly identical gold earrings were unearthed there, along with hundreds of bowls, ceremonial objects, and other gold jewelry. The finds were placed in bank vaults and displayed only once at the Iraq Museum before Saddam Hussein was ousted.

After the fall of Baghdad in 2003, U.S. investigators and Iraqi officials tracked down the treasures of Nimrud in a vault within a vault in the basement of Iraq's destroyed central bank.

“They know they will be challenged on this.  That is why they try to say the earrings were owned prior to the war,” says Namoo. 

Christie's listing for the pair of earrings on offer says they were acquired from their previous owner before 1969. The auction house's Web site refers potential buyers to a German archaeological text "for a similar pair from a royal tomb at Nimrud."

www.CHALDEAN.org has placed numerous calls and e-mails to the auction house asking for documentation, proof of ownership, or official certificates of rights to resell for antiquities, in the hopes that a confirmation can be made that the earrings were not part of a war booty.   All requests have gone unanswered at the time of this report.   

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.