A joint German-Iraqi initiative is providing Iraqis with training in Berlin to help them preserve historical artifacts back home.
As Iraq continues to rebuild its infrastructure following its liberation from ISIS, the rehabilitation and preservation of archaeological and historical sites are also amongst its main objectives. The destruction that many of the cultural sites faced under ISIS’ rule is considered a loss for humanity, according to some experts. As a result, the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin has cooperated with the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Antiquities to provide training for Iraqi archaeologists using modern methods of excavation and preservation.
“Every year, [the archaeologists] go to Berlin to train for weeks on modern maintenance methods and archaeological excavations,” said an Iraqi official overseeing the program. “This is very important for archaeology because today, we desperately need these modern techniques.”
This exchange of information between Iraq and Germany also included providing courses on documenting heritage sites that were destroyed during the years of conflict.
“In cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, a training course, for the documentation of heritage buildings, was completed,” said Abdulrahman Imad, an Iraqi archaeologist participating in the program. “I wrote a research [paper] on the Hadbaa Minaret, which was blown up by ISIS days before the liberation in 2017.”
The efforts of the German Institute were welcomed by Iraq’s Minister of Tourism, Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, who said that such workshops and training courses help in his efforts to preserve Iraq’s rich cultural heritage.
“Germans have an active and vital role in preserving antiquities,” said al-Hamdani. “Therefore, the ministry is supportive of such cultural projects.”
Since the defeat of ISIS in December 2017, similar projects have been launched throughout the country by different international actors. In March of this year, a new wing was opened in the Basra Museum, which was completed with the assistance from the British Council, who stressed the importance of the country’s heritage.
These and similar attempts have been encouraged throughout Iraq as they help to preserve its identity and history. Furthermore, the preservation and rehabilitation of these sites will also attract thousands of tourists to the country so that they can learn more about Iraq, which is known as the cradle of civilisation.