A project by the University of Glasgow to preserve archaeological sites in Iraqi Kurdistan has been awarded funding from the UK Government’s Cultural Protection Fund which is administered by the British Council. 

The 2018 round of funding was announced in August with Glasgow University one of nine projects to benefit. The £30 million fund is designed to protect internationally important heritage threatened by conflict across the Middle East and North Africa.

With the help of their £300,000 award, the University of Glasgow will work to preserve sites in the Garmian Region of Iraq, some of which date back up to 10,000 years. The area has previously been on the front line of the Iran-Iraq war, the 2014 ISIS conflict, and suffered significant damage under Saddam Hussein’s repression of the Kurds in the 1990s. As a result, important information and key artefacts from ancient Mesopotamia’s civilizations have been destroyed. 

The University of Glasgow will bring together archaeologists and cultural protection professionals who have specific expertise in working with communities in challenging cultural and ethnic contexts. Over 18 months, they will document and monitor the damage via satellite & aerial imaging, before recommending ways to best preserve the site.

The team will also train local archaeologists and work with local teachers to highlight the benefit of incorporating cultural heritage lessons in to their classrooms.

Archaeologist Dr Claudia Glatz will lead the University of Glasgow team. She describes the project as ‘unique in Iraq and the Middle East’ due to its combination of archaeological practice and training, social and political capacity building, and the creation of community educational resources.

Since being established by the UK Government and the British Council in 2016, the Cultural Protection Fund has supported over 40 projects to restore and protect heritage sites in each of the 12 countries it operates in. 

Other projects supported in this round of the Cultural Protection Fund include preserving the traditions of the Bedouin community in Lebanon, assessing the Afgan national art collection, and restoring community museums in Western Sudan. 

Click here for more information on the work of the Cultural Protection Fund and the full list of successful projects.