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Iraq: Cultural Heritage
From Grolier's The New Book of Knowledge
Ruins of the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar and the foundations of the Hanging Gardens. (Photo: Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS)

Art and Architecture.

Iraqi art and handicrafts are essentially Arabic. Miniatures painted on camel bone or ivory, mosaic inlay work, as well as rugs, textiles, and copper and brass utensils, are produced for both the local market and the tourist trade.

One distinctive type of artistic work associated with Iraq is the silverware produced by the Mandeans (a people also known as the Sabeans). The Mandeans are a small religious sect whose beliefs require that they live close to running water. Their silverware is decorated with scenes or figures well known in Iraqi life and history. Iraq is also known for its distinctive embroidered rugs.

Iraq has many places of historical interest. The ruins of Ur, one of the world’s first cities, is located in the southern part of the country. The ziggurat (Sumerian temple tower) at Ur is believed to date back to about 2500 B.C. South of Baghdad are the remains of the Arch of Ctesiphon, an imposing palace that dates to about A.D. 225, as well as a re-creation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the Baghdad suburb of Kadhimain stands a famously beautiful Shi’ite mosque (Muslim house of worship). Its two domes and four major minarets are covered with gold.

Literature. Iraq was a center of Arab learning in the Middle Ages. Its literary achievements are part of the Arabic culture as a whole.

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