TURLOCK – Dr. Donny George Youkhanna, an Assyrian archaeologist and scholar who was instrumental in recovering many of the artifacts looted from the National Museum in Baghdad during the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, will speak at California State University, Stanislaus on Saturday, December 13 at 2 p.m. in the Vasché Library West Reading Room.
Sponsored by the University Library, the program is open to the public and admission is free.
Described as “the man who saved the Iraq National Museum,” Youkhanna is an Assyrian Christian, a native of Iraq’s Al Anbar province. Forced to flee Iraq in 2006 along with his family, Youkhanna is currently a visiting Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University in New York.
Former Director General of Baghdad’s National Museum, he was instrumental in recovering nearly half of the 15,000 Mesopotamian artworks and artifacts that date back as far as 6,000 years. They were looted from the museum and Iraq’s 12,500 archaeological sites during the chaos that followed the 2003 invasion. Proceeds from many of the artifacts were sold on the international antiquities black market and have helped fund the insurgency in Iraq, according to Youkhanna.
His efforts to recover the museum items led to death threats, the cessation of financial support, and lack of security that eventually prompted Youkhanna’s decision to move to the United States. In addition to his leadership at the Iraq National Museum, he was also the Chairman of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and the president of the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.
Youkhanna has authored two books on the architecture and stone industries of Tell Es-Sawaan, and has given presentations on the current archaeological and museum conditions in Iraq at conferences all over the world. He has worked tirelessly for the recovery of the stolen Iraqi artifacts, rehabilitation of the National Museum, and on staff training and projects through the Iraqi government in cooperation with international governments and organizations.