WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Colonial Williamsburg, the living museum devoted to preserving early American history, has offered to help Iraqi cultural experts safely store relics threatened with destruction by Islamic State militants, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
The museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, has drafted an offer to work with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and other Iraqi archaeological and historical organizations to help protect and preserve artifacts of historical and cultural importance that are at risk, according to spokesman Joe Straw.
Colonial Williamsburg president Mitchell Reiss, a former senior U.S. diplomat, said the museum would accept all the Iraqi artifacts it can handle.
“At Colonial Williamsburg, we well know that a nation’s past is a foundation for its future,” Reiss said in a statement.
In recent weeks, Islamic State militants have systematically destroyed dozens of ancient temples, shrines, manuscripts, statues and carvings in northern Iraq.
There have been no direct threats against Colonial Williamsburg, but its website was among several U.S. sites hit in a recent cyber-attack that was attributed to ISIS.
Williamsburg, located about 150 miles south of Washington, served as the capital of colonial Virginia for most of the 18th century, and is now a popular tourist destination.
Reporting by John Clarke in Washington; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh