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cultural heritage

Webinar on the Economic Benefits of Cultural Heritage

  February, 14, 2017 - Dr. Tobin Hartnell and the Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE) at AUIS, facilitated a webinar by Dr. Edward Salo, a professor at Arkansas State University, on the economic benefits of cultural heritage. The event was attended by AUIS students and a few guests from the University of Sulaimani. Dr. Salo talked about the importance of  using historic preservation as a way to help create communities and to encourage economic development, which as he explained is “not just about saving pretty buildings”. He started by explaining what historic preservation can do,“It can give us roots, enhance community pride, teach and inspire us, make communities more attractive and encourage travel and tourism.” He presented an interesting linkage between the past and future and how crucial historic preservation has been in unveiling the history of minorities in the United States. Dr. Salo also expressed his interest in the historic sites in Iraq, and mentioned how historic places are used in the United States and what they bring to their communities, “ They are used to create a basis for heritage tourism and that way they can enhance the economy and identity of communities,” he explained.  Photos contributed by Sara Aso. News contributed by Bana Aso.

Podcast: Protecting the Past

  A 2-day conference on October 30th and 31st brought together national and international experts to explore new approaches to monitor, protect and preserve the cultural heritage of all Iraq. The conference, Protecting the Past: Towards a Better Future with Cultural Heritage, jointly organized by the AUIS Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE), the University of Oxford Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa (EAMENA) project, and the University of Sulaimani, drew upon the experience of projects and approaches that have been successful throughout the wider Middle East in protecting local cultural heritage. The podcasts from the conference are now available online. Please click on individual talks in the program below or visit our podcast channel to listen to the conference speakers. Kurdish and Arabic translations of podcasts are available, where indicated next to each talk. The podcasts have been produced by EAMENA, and are also available on the Protecting the Past and the University of Oxford websites.  Sunday, 30 October: Towards a better future with cultural heritage in the MENA region  Protecting the Past in Iraq: Challenges and Needs Keynote: Robert Bewley (Director, EAMENA) - Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa (کوردی) May Shaer (UNESCO – Iraq) - Safeguarding Iraq's Cultural Heritage: An Overview of UNESCO's Activities (کوردی | عربى) Abdelamir al-Hamdani (State Board of Antiquities and Heritage) - Digitizing the Past: A New Digital Atlas and Database of the Archaeological sites in Iraq (کوردی | عربى) Iraq in the MENA Region: New Initiatives and Approaches (Part I) Graham Philip (SHIRIN & Durham University) The Shirin Project: the development of tools to support collective action in heritage protection and damage mitigation  (کوردی | عربى) Allison Cuneo (ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) - Monitoring, Protecting, and Preserving Cultural Heritage: Recent Results of the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives  (کوردی | عربى) Kozad Ahmad (University of Sulaimani) - The Types of Danger to the Cultural Heritage of the Middle East (کوردی | عربى) Abdullah Khorsheed (IICAH) - Archaeological Conservation Programs at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and heritage Katie A. Paul (Antiquities Coalition) - Culture Under Threat: Developing and Implementing Solutions to Cultural Racketeering and Terrorist Financing (عربى) Monday, 31st October: Safeguarding heritage in Iraq Iraq in the MENA region: New Initatives and Initiatives (Part II) John MacGinnis (Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Project, British Museum) - The British Museum’s Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme (کوردی) Roger Matthews (RASHID, University of Reading) - RASHID International: Formulating a Future for Iraq's Past (کوردی) Bijan Rouhani (AMAL Project, ICOMOS) - AMAL in Heritage: A cultural emergency management tool for MENA region (کوردی | عربى) Cultural Heritage and Capacity Building in Conflict Zones Layla Salih (State Board of Antiquities and Heritage) - The Destroyed Heritage in Mosul - reality and challenges (کوردی | عربى) Tobin Hartnell (AUIS) - Capacity Building for Cultural Heritage in the KRG (کوردی | عربى) Didier Bouakaze-Khan (METU, Ankara) - Archaeological Heritage in Conflict Zones  Protecting the Past in the Face of Development: Defining Goals and Expectations Ricardo Cabral (Kani Shaie Archaeology Project, Universidade de Coimbra) - Using Digital Technologies to Document the Endangered Archaeological Heritage of the Bazyan Basin in Slemani Emma Cunliffe (EAMENA, Oxford) - Site Destruction in the Iraqi Jazirah: a satellite imagery assessment Saman Ahmad (Kurdistan Botanical Foundation) - The status of Flora of Kurdistan region, Iraq (کوردی | عربى) Narmen Ali Muhamadameen (Salahaddin University) - The Citadel of Kirkuk: Reconnaissance and Assessment of Its Archaeological Heritage (کوردی | عربى)

EAMENA blog: Towards a better future with cultural heritage

By Andrea Zerbini, Jennie Bradbury, Emma Cunliffe  Since the beginning of the Endangered Archaeology project it has been our aim to try and widen participation in cultural heritage discussions and to shift the focus away from events held in western institutions, and emphasise the importance of hosting events in the universities and museums of the MENA region. With this goal in mind, the Protecting the Past series was set up in order to enable local audiences, who are often unable to take part in the international congresses on these subjects in Europe and North America, to participate and attend. To this end, from the 30th–31st October 2016, EAMENA partnered with the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani and the University of Sulaimani to organise the second conference in the Protecting the Past series entitled, ‘Towards a better future with cultural heritage’ in Sulaimani, Iraq. Key for this year’s event was also the partnership with the European Union’s delegation to Iraq and the financial support of the Barakat Trust and G.A. Wainwright Fund of the University of Oxford. Over two days, twenty papers in Arabic, Kurdish and English were presented by specialists from all parts of Iraq, as well as from Britain, Iran, Portugal, Turkey and the US. Two round table discussions were also staged to discuss the current needs of local heritage managers in Iraq and propose potential actions to be taken for Mosul’s heritage after ISIS. The proceedings of the conference were simultaneously translated and recorded, and podcasts will soon be made available (in Arabic, Kurdish and English) via the University of Oxford’s MediaPub service and on One of the key themes addressed at the conference was the need for a comprehensive inventory of Iraq’s immensely rich cultural heritage. In some provinces, such as in Dhi Qar, officials from the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) have already made considerable progress on this front. Dr Abdelamir al-Hamdani (SBAH), for example, has mapped ca. 17,000 sites in southern and central Iraq, and more are in the process of being plotted. At a central level, efforts in this direction are being coordinated by the SBAH Remote Sensing unit. Training initiatives and facilities were also at the centre of discussions throughout the conference. Dr Abdullah Khorsheed, the head of the Iraqi Institute for Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH, Erbil), presented some of the Institute’s success stories. This included examples of their work, training practitioners from all over Iraq in the conservation of artefacts and buildings, as well as geomapping. Dr John MacGinnis (British Museum) also presented the British Museum’s Emergency Heritage Management Training programme, whose objective is to train a number of SBAH employees in fieldwork techniques to be applied on sites falling within areas formerly occupied by ISIS. Other speakers, such as the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiative, the SHIRIN collaboration for Syria and the RASHID International project for Iraq, focused on the role of international projects in the region, whilst Robert Bewley, the project director of EAMENA, stressed the importance of projects asking local heritage professionals how such international schemes could be useful. The importance of engaging with the next generation of heritage professionals was also emphasised throughout the conference and, in particular, May Shaer from UNESCO, emphasised how important it is to create children-friendly approaches (using games and cartoons) as part of their outreach and education strategy. The Protecting the Past event came at a critical time for the heritage of the region. More than 120 people attended the conference on its opening day, and attendance remained high throughout the event. Before and during the conference, the Protecting the Past website received more than 500 individual visitors per day, while its Facebook page (@protectingthepast) more than doubled its number of followers. Overall, the success of this event emphasised the importance of similar initiatives elsewhere in the MENA region and this will keep us motivated to organise more of these events in the near future. This blog was originally published on the Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) Project website, and is reproduced here with their permission.

Protecting the Past: Towards a Better Future with Cultural Heritage

Read more about the conference here.  The conference is jointly organized by the AUIS Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE) and the University of Oxford Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa (EAMENA) Project, in association with the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sulaimani, and in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to Iraq.  The conference will bring together Iraqi and international specialists to explore the range of threats impacting upon the cultural heritage of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, and the wider Middle East and North Africa and will draw upon the experience of projects and approaches that have been successful throughout the region as a way to explore possible solutions for the future. By encouraging debate and discussion between different groups, we aim to enhance regional understandings and develop long-lasting partnership.  This conference is unique in offering a two-day training workshop before the conference for interested cultural heritage professionals. These work shops will be conducted by Oxford’s EAMENA, which has designed a ready-made cultural heritage management platform that can help local professionals access records about their cultural heritage when making planning and development decisions. These type of information can help mitigate or prevent some of the damage caused by modern development projects and prepare future generations to assess and promote heritage for its economic and social benefits. We are pleased to acknowledge the invaluable support provided to us by a number of institutions and funding bodies without whom this initiative could not have been organised. Our partners are listed below:                    The Delegation represents the European Union in Iraq and, as a diplomatic mission, works closely with the 13 Member State Embassies that are represented in Baghdad as well as their Missions in Erbil, Kurdistan Region. The Delegation is the permanent and principal interlocutor of the EU vis-à-vis local authorities, the international community and all other stakeholders for all matters related to EU external action. Acting in close cooperation with all EU Member State diplomatic missions, the Delegation strives to ensure the unity, consistency and effectiveness of EU external action in Iraq. It ensures the follow-up of bilateral relations in the political, economic, trade, energy and development areas. The Barakat Trust supports the study and preservation of Islamic heritage, architecture, archaeology, art and culture by funding students, academic research, publications, digitisation, conservation, conferences and other projects.   The Gerald Averay Wainwright Fund for Near Eastern Archaeology, we would like to extend our thanks to the Gerald Averay Wainwright Fund for Near Eastern Archaeology for a grant providing financial support for this event. Please visit the conference website to view the program and list of speakers.  

Conflict and Living Heritage in the Middle East

Conflict and Living Heritage in the Middle East:   Researching the Politics of Cultural Heritage and Identities in Times of War and Displacement The Social Sciences Department at AUIS, in collaboration with the Institue français du Proche-Orient (ifpo), is hosting a two-day conference to discuss the conflict and living heritage in the Middle East on May 10-11, 2016.  View or download the conference program Read more about the conference View photo gallery About the Conference:  Cultural heritage is central to the wars currently being waged in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. The international media and organizations, together with governments and heritage professionals – including academics – have looked at the issue mostly from the perspective of damages to archaeological property or sites and artefacts with a highly emblematic global value, at times framed as 'universal.' The local meaning of such heritage is generally disregarded, and so are other aspects of affected populations' living heritage that give them a sense of collective identities. Yet local knowledge and know-hows, popular arts, crafts and traditions, religious beliefs and rituals, language and oral expressions, together with religious and vernacular architecture are all forms of heritage that suffer in the on-going wars. In many instances, this living heritage is deliberately targeted by parties striving to perform cultural cleansing. What then happens to living heritage and collective identities in areas affected by war and under new political authorities? What about the heritage and identities of the millions who have been displaced as a result of the recent conflicts in the region? More generally, what can an examination and conceptualization of the practices and discourses of local actors reveal about the nexus between cultural heritage, identities, armed conflicts and population displacement in the Middle East  yesterday and today? The proposed topic calls for considering on-going and recent situations together with more ancient ones such as – but not limited to – the Armenian, Kurdish, Palestinian, or Lebanese cases, and for a comparative perspective. The following themes will form the core of the discussions: Theme 1: Heritage and Conflict In conflict situations, cultural heritage tends to become a contested area where relations of domination and violence are expressed, and where competing groups strive to assert legitimacy. This is manifested through unequal control over space (within urban areas, or on emblematic sites and monuments), and the often brutal removal of cultural attributes or markers attached to collective identities (regional, ethnic, religious, gendered, etc.). Questions will be asked about how civilian populations, on the one hand, and political and military actors, on the other, engage through practices, discourses and representations with various forms of living heritage during and immediately after conflict. Discourses, representations, and practices will be considered to understand the role of heritage as a vehicle for violence between groups, or conversely as a medium to de-escalate conflict and reach comprise. Theme 2: Heritage and Displacement More often than not, people displaced by conflict experience violence (usually in gendered ways), a break-up of social ties, and a radical separation from their place of origin. Such situations can also brutally severe people's bonds with their tangible and intangible heritage, particularly when such heritage is targeted by warring parties. The interrelation between heritage and displacement opens up questions as regards the implications of the loss of identity reference points, the transformation and redefinition of heritage in exile, and the role heritage plays in the (re)construction of collective memory and cultural identity among refugees. Such issues call for an examination in different contexts and time-frames: in transient or liminal places and states (such as refugee camps, border or transit areas), and when exile endures near or far from the homeland. An important question relates to how experiences of exile become incorporated into new heritage discourses that serve as bases for collective memories and identities. Conference Program: View or download the program of the conference below.   

Symposium on the Origins of Kurdish Civilization

  In the last five years there have been a tremendous amount of new discoveries relating to the earliest history of the Kurdish highlands. In a symposium organized by the AUIS Center of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE) on October 28, 2015, local and international guest speakers discussed some of these latest discoveries. The symposium brought together scholars from the US, Portugal, Belgium and the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The panel included: Dr. Tobin Hartnell, director of AUIS Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Center Dr. Hashim Hama Abdullah, director of Sulaimani Museum Dr. Kozad Ahmed, director of Archaeology at University of Sulaimani Steve Renette, AUIS Archaeology/CACHE Fellow, University of Pennsylvania André Tomé, Universidade di Coimbra Dr.Kozad opened the symposium with a presentation on the historical evidence of the earliest states in the region of Kurdistan. You can listen to his talk in the AUIS podcast below.  The highlight of the discussion was a talk on the latest discovery of the Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh by Dr. Hama. The tablet has been acquired by the Sulaimani Museum and is on display there. André Tomé talked about the exciting findings from their excavation at the historical site of Kani Shaei near Sulaimani. He explained that the discoveries are related to different periods, including Ubaid, Uruk, early Bronze Age, Hellenistic period, and the Islamic period. Steve Renette then discussed some of the pottery and grave findings from the excavation site. The Portuguese team hope to continue their excavation project next year. You can find out out more about the Kani Shaei Archaeological Project on their website.  Podcasts of talks by all speakers will be posted here soon. Contributed by Shatoo Diyar Bakir - Communications student volunteer 

Development, not just Daesh, poses a threat to Kurdish history

Alexander Whitcomb's latest article for Rudaw highlights the dangers to Iraq's and Kurdistan region's cultural heritage from extremist forces as well as unplanned and rapid development over heritage sites, as discussed by experts at the Iraq Cultural Heritage Symposium, hosted by the AUIS Social Sciences Department and the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS). 

AUIS Hosts First Annual Iraq Cultural Heritage Symposium

The Department of Social Sciences and the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), organized the first annual Iraq Cultural Heritage Symposium on April 26, 2015. The symposium, “Iraqi Cultural Heritage in Crisis: Strategies for the Future”, brought together prominent scholars, policy makers, government officials, cultural professionals, and journalists from the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and beyond to discuss the complex and pressing issues relating to cultural heritage in the region. The Symposium addressed vital issues pertaining to preservation and management of Iraq’s cultural heritage in three different panels. The discussions were moderated by Tobin Hartnell, an archaeologist and professor of social sciences at AUIS. Panel 1: From Mesopotamia to Iraq: Valuing the Past for Iraq’s Future The speakers in the first panel spoke about the importance and value of cultural heritage and why it is important to safeguard and preserve it. They included: Gyorgy Busztin, Deputy-Secretary of UN Assistance Mission Iraq (UNAMI) - Building a Positive Future through Cultural Heritage Mala Awat, Director of the Erbil Directorate of Antiquities - Cultural Heritage in the KRG Hashem Hama Abdullah, Director of the Sulaimani Museum - Restoring the Museum and Future Projects Iqbal Kadhim Aajeel, Director of the Nasriyah Museum - Provincial Museums and Cultural Heritage: A Closer Look at Nasriyah Museum Marie Labrosse, Lecturer, AUIS - Preserving Archives against a Future of Conflict The discussion was followed by a musical performance by internationally renowned Kurdish musician and daf (frame drum) player, Hajar Zahawy. Panel 2: Destruction and Sale of Iraqi and Kurdish Civilization The second panel focused on the destruction of important heritage sites by the Islamic State (ISIS), as well as the smuggling and looting of antiquities in Iraq and Kurdistan. The speakers included: Axel Plathe, Director of UNESCO, Iraq - UNESCO’s Mission to Protect Cultural Heritage in Iraq Ahmad Kamel Mohammed, Director of Iraqi Museum in Baghdad - The Significance of Reopening the Iraqi Museum Bilal Wahab, Assistant Professor, AUIS - Funding ISIS with the Illicit Trade in Antiquities Muayad Said Damerji, Former Director of Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage - Managing Cultural Heritage during Sanctions Panel 3: The Future of Cultural Heritage Management in Iraq The final discussion focused on the future of the cultural heritage in Iraq. Speakers talked about government policies, training and international support for preserving and managing cultural heritage in the region. Experts presented examples of cultural heritage restoration in the Kurdistan Region using the latest methods and technology. AUIS Professor, Tobin Hartnell, also discussed the opening of an Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Center at AUIS in the future, one dedicated to training and educating local cultural heritage management professionals. The speakers on the third panel at the symposium included: Simone Mühl, Assistant Professor, Ludwig-Maxilimian-Universität - Rescue Excavations and Cultural Heritage Management Jessica Giraud, Research Fellow, Institut Français Proche Orient, Head of French Mission to Sulaimani - The Potential of Remote Sensing in Cultural Heritage Management Tobin Hartnell, Assistant Professor, AUIS - The Future of Archaeology at AUIS Kozad Ahmed, Head of Archaeology at University of Sulaimani - Investigating the History of Ancient Kurdistan Mustafa Ahmed, Research Fellow, Institut Français Proche Orient - Syrian Culture in Crisis The conference was held at a pivotal time, as ISIS is systematically destroying the cultural heritage of northern Iraq. However, the recent openings of the Baghdad and Nasriyah Museums highlight the positive role cultural heritage can play as an alternative to the extremist narrative. As cultural heritage management requires local, regional, national, and international collaboration to be successful; this symposium hopes to provide a regular platform for addressing these issues and build ever-closer collaboration between the most important stakeholders around the region and the world. The event was sponsored by Vinci, an architecture and interior design company in Sulaimani. See more photos of the event on our facebook page.


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