Our Project

We take a multi-pronged approach to cultural heritage protection, which includes:

• The documentation and monitoring of archaeological site damage and risk

• Capacity building among Iraqi archaeologists and heritage professionals to ensure that heritage protection continues independently and sustainably

• The co-creation of a sustainable framework and engagement programme that will enable local heritage professionals to engage key stakeholders in cultural heritage protection

• The co-development of a Cultural Protection Strategy for the project region

Documentation and Monitoring of Archaeological Sites

Only when we understand the nature and extent of past damage and current and future threats, can we devise effective strategies of protection and damage control/limitation. A central pillar of the proposed project, is therefore, the monitoring of archaeological sites and other physical cultural heritage for existing damage and current as well as future risks.

Following training in Iraq and Glasgow, the project’s Cultural Heritage Monitoring Officer, Nawzad Latif, has been monitoring archaeological sites and documenting past damage and future risks to archaeological in the Garmian region of southern Suleymaniyah using a combination of satellite-based monitoring, aerial photography and on-the-ground site visits.

Nawzad’s work focuses on the Iraqi Kurdish region of Garmian/southern Suleymaniyah, an area of ca. 4000km2 . Archaeological sites in this region are of immense historical significance, offering an untapped source of knowledge regarding key developments in human history: the emergence of sedentary agriculture, the development of the world’s first complex societies, and the cultural interactions that took place between imperial centres in Mesopotamia, Iran, and beyond.

Erosion damage to an archaeological site in the Iraqi Kurdish region of Garmian/southern Suleymaniyah
Site damage from erosion and a recent earthquake

The Sirwan Regional Project (SRP), an archaeological survey and excavation project co-directed by Dr. Claudia Glatz and Prof. Jesse Casana, has been investigating the archaeology of this area since 2013. SRP has identified over 600 archaeological features including settlement mounds, lithic scatters, rock reliefs, hydraulic works and standing structures. Almost all of the sites identified have been subject to varying forms of damage and destruction.

Site damage from looting
Site damage from looting

By the end of the project, the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Officer will have collected detailed data on at least 360 archaeological sites, which will provide an unprecedented, evidence-based understanding of past and current sources of destruction and damage as well as future risks to the region’s cultural heritage.

Capacity Building and Training Workshops

In order to ensure the sustainability of the project’s monitoring and engagement efforts, the project builds local capacity through a series of training events targeted to local needs.

Iraq Project Staff

This includes the training in Iraq and at Glasgow of the Iraq-based Cultural Heritage Monitoring and Community Engagement Officers, who will in turn take on increasing training responsibly as the project progresses and will ensure the training of others following the end of the project.

Our Cultural Heritage Monitoring Officer, Nawzad Latif, being trained in Glasgow
Our Cultural Heritage Monitoring Officer, Nawzad Latif, being trained in Glasgow

Archaeological field-skills

During the ongoing field-seasons of the Sirwan Regional Project, the project provides training in archaeological field practice to Iraqi antiquities officials and archaeologists in archaeological survey, excavation and finds processing skills.

A composite image of people carrying out archaeological excavation and survey in a hot, dry environment
On-site training in archaeological excavation and recording methods at Khani Masi

Interpretation and Narrative Building
Two sets of training workshops will be held for Iraqi antiquities officials, archaeologists and educators in Suleymaiyah in 2019.

The first workshops will take place from the 20th to the 23rd of February 2019 and will cover sessions on
• Archaeological interpretation and the political dimensions of the past
• Archaeological and museum narrative building
• Monitoring of archaeological sites and damage documentation
• Looting and the illicit antiquities trade

Travel bursaries are available for workshop attendees. As spaces are limited, please contact us here for further details and expressions of interest.

Education and Engagement

A third project focus is the creation of educational spaces, teaching materials and engagement activities to widen awareness and public participation in cultural heritage and its protection.

This includes the design of two new museum spaces for children in Suleyaminah and Kalar in collaboration with local school teachers and education specialists.

The two bespoke spaces will help young visitors familiarise themselves with what archaeologists and cultural heritage professionals do; why their work is important and how this relates to their every-day life. The spaces will offer a range of structured activities that will complement school curricula and engage them with selected artefacts on display in the two museums.

Schools will also have the opportunity to borrow one of three themed educational boxes designed for this purpose. The aim of these boxes is to provide a well-structured context for classroom teaching, helping children to comprehend historical narratives; engaging with multiple cultural identities and bridge the gap between different time periods.

More details about the educational boxes will be available in early Summer 2019.

A building in an arid, environment, with some scrubby plants in the foreground
Rural farmstead near the town of Kalar

The project is also working towards the design of engagement initiatives targeting especially rural and remote communities, who live on or near archaeological sites. The project’s education and engagement initiatives are supported by the Cultural Engagement Officer, Amanj Amin, who is based at the Suleymaniyah Directorate of Antiquities.

We will be posting updates on work in progress here.

Cultural Protection Strategy and Sustainability

The data on site damage and risk gathered during this project, the results and lessons learnt in the course of the project’ engagement activities and best-practice co-developed with local antiquities officials during workshop activities will feed into a Cultural Heritage Strategy. This will be a forward-looking and sustainable framework for action for archaeological practice and heritage protection in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.