The improved security situation in Iraq is permitting its government to focus some attention on the ruins of ancient Babylon.
The most immediate threat to preserving the ruins of Babylon, the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is water soaking the ground and undermining what is left in present-day Iraq of a great city from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar II.
It is also one of the oldest threats. The king himself faced water problems 2,600 years ago. Neglect, reckless reconstruction and wartime looting have also taken their toll in recent times, but archaeologists and experts in the preservation of cultural relics say nothing substantial should be done to correct that until the water problem is brought under control.
Ancient irrigation and intrusive projects by Saddam Hussein contribute to a high water table that affects the mud bricks. This news article notes that Iraq has many trained archaeologists, so we can hope for successful preservation work at Babylon and elsewhere.
I look forward to the day when a visit to Iraqi sites may be safe and affordable. From a biblical perspective, Iraq involves a large chunk of Genesis plus the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and Jonah.