The Iraq War started in 2003 when U.S. forces invaded Iraq. During the war, many artifacts were looted from museums, palaces, places of worship, and other structures. It is believed that thousands of items still remain lost to looters. In addition, many artifacts were destroyed through munitions such as bombs or by tanks. These factors make it difficult to ascertain exactly what the Iraqi people have lost due to looting.
The Iraqi people have lost many valuable artifacts such as historical items stolen from museums and houses of worship. Those items are irreplaceable and have historical value that far outweighs monetary value. Individual Iraqi people have lost items that were of historical significance to their family and to their culture.
Looting often occurred in personal homes and the Iraqi people were often unable to protect themselves from thieves. There were also famous cases of looting that resulted form the Iraqi War. For example, the Iraqi National Museum was subject to looting because of the military, law enforcement and Iraqi people's inability to protect the structure. That museum contained artifacts and artwork that was of major significance to the Iraqi people.
When the Iraqi National Museum was looted during the Iraq War, valuable and historic items went missing. Those artifacts are likely to remain unaccounted for due to the inability to track such items. Looting of archaeological sites continues to be a problem in Iraq and other war-torn countries.
Looters take advantage of the many distractions caused by war. Law enforcement, military personal and even the Iraqi people tend to be focused on efforts that directly affect the outcome of the war. There is simply not enough manpower available to protect artifacts, archaeological sites and museums from the acts of looters and others intent on damaging such valuable items.
There have been increased efforts by the Iraqi people and many others to recover items looted during and after the Iraqi War. Amazingly, many items have been recovered due to those efforts. However, many items remain unaccounted for because of the many ways that criminals are able to hide such artifacts.
There is a vast underground network centered on making money off of artifacts. Many times, artifacts end up in the hands of private collectors and those items remain lost forever.
Like many wars, the Iraq War resulted in the loss of many valuable and historical artifacts. The loss to the Iraqi people is immeasurable. The Iraqi people will likely never recover many of the stolen items, which results in the permanent loss of artifacts that are a large part of the history and culture of the people