Illustration from an 1930s Haggadah before (top) restoration and (below) after
restoration (photo: National Archives)
service for signs of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Submerged under four feet of water in the building’s basement, they instead happened upon five centuries’ worth of books and documents relating to Baghdad’s erstwhile Jewish community.
The thousands of waterlogged materials were quickly rescued and placed outside, but immediately began accumulating mold in Iraq’s powerful summer heat and humidity.
Two months later, the National Archives signed an agreement with Iraq’s Coalition Provisional Authority allowing all of the material to be shipped to the US for preservation and exhibition, “under the condition that, following the restoration, the documents are returned to Iraq.”