British Museum to train Iraqi archaeologists
A picture taken on January 13, 2009 shows an aerial view of a part of the world-renowned ancient city of Palmyra. AFP PhotoThe British Museum is to set up a training scheme for Iraqi archaeologists to tackle the aftermath of destruction wrought by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Art Newspaper has reported.
A museum spokeswoman said the program, which has been awarded a 3 million-pound grant from the U.K. government, would help Iraq to document the damage and start the process of reconstruction and preservation.
Archaeologists with extensive field experience in Iraq will lead the program, which will run for six months. They will train Iraqis in techniques including 3-D scanning, emergency retrieval techniques, forensic collection and documentation techniques, together with conservation and restoration techniques, the British Museum said in a statement.
The museum’s plan is to recruit two international archaeologists to head a training project. Small groups of Iraqi archaeologists will come to London for a three-month course and then return to their home country, where they will receive three further months of training from the two international specialists. The courses in Iraq will take place in the more secure regions in the north and Basra, in the south. Altogether 50 Iraqis will be trained to work on damaged sites over a five-year period.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said “Civilizations tell their stories through their art, which is why people who are hell-bent on destruction, target it. Removing places and things that have helped to give people a shared sense of history and identity helps to undermine social cohesion and makes reconciliation less likely.
Many heritage sites are used for military purposes to shield and conceal soldiers and weapons, and valuable objects are trafficked to finance warmongering. It must be tackled head-on.”
Whittingdale is also expected to reaffirm the U.K. government’s commitment to ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.