Colonial Williamsburg Offers to Help Protect Iraq's Artifacts, Cyber Attack Follows

Screenshot of history.org, the official website of Colonial Williamsburg
Screenshot of history.org, the official website of Colonial Williamsburg

The website of Colonial Williamsburg -- www.history.org -- was hacked last weekend in one of several cyber attacks on U.S. websites by a group claiming to be Islamic State.

The incident followed an event at Colonial Williamsburg where president Mitchell Reiss, a former senior U.S. diplomat, hosted a team of Iraqi archaeologists and museum experts on March 2. He made an offer to store artifacts that are threatenend in Iraq. ISIS militants have been destroying antiquities and cultural artifacts across the region. 

Since the offer was not made public, experts say the attack was likely random and it is not known whether ISIS was behind it. The FBI is investigating.

“At Colonial Williamsburg, we well know that a nation’s past is a foundation for its future,” Reiss said in a statement. “It was here that the idea of American independence was first established, where our founding democratic institutions were conceived, and where our foundational values of human dignity and religious and economic liberty were first given voice. All that we are today—and hope to be tomorrow—started here.”

“It is the same for Iraq, a country known as the cradle of civilization for its scientific, cultural and artistic achievements — including invention of the wheel and the first alphabet, which date back 10,000 years and which continue to fascinate and inspire humanity,” Reiss continued. “That legacy, indeed our common human legacy, is contained in the vessels of civilization now being destroyed by ISIS.

“The Iraqi people once suffered at the hands of despots. They continue to suffer at the hands of terrorists,” Reiss added. “If we can join with them in an effort to protect these antiquities, we can protect Iraq and the world’s collective DNA until these clouds of divisiveness and chaos pass.”

“It is the same for Iraq, a country known as the cradle of civilization for its scientific, cultural and artistic achievements — including invention of the wheel and the first alphabet, which date back 10,000 years and which continue to fascinate and inspire humanity,” Reiss continued. “That legacy, indeed our common human legacy, is contained in the vessels of civilization now being destroyed by ISIS.

“The Iraqi people once suffered at the hands of despots. They continue to suffer at the hands of terrorists,” Reiss added. “If we can join with them in an effort to protect these antiquities, we can protect Iraq and the world’s collective DNA until these clouds of divisiveness and chaos pass.”

The Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and other Iraqi archaeological and historical organizations are currently reviewing Colonial Williamsburg’s offer

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