Our Team | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Our Team

Meet the members of the AUIS Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE).

Tobin Hartnell
Founding Director, CACHE

Tobin Hartnell is an assistant professor of World History at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). Tobin teaches courses on archaeology, world history, world geography, and GIS. He uses the latest technology including geophysics and remote sensing to conduct non-destructive investigations of ancient sites. His research focuses on studying the ancient Medes, who both ruled a short-lived empire, and then partnered with the Persians to create the Achaemenid Empire (550 - 330 BC). They constitute a major force in the Kurdistan region, first as Media, then Media Atropatene, and finally Aturpatakan, until time of Islam.

The civilization of the ancient Medes is poorly known, and AUIS will host the only major research project in the Sulaimani region dedicated to this topic.

Prior to joining AUIS, Hartnell completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago on ancient Iran, and a Masters on ancient Iraq. He has worked as an archaeologist for twenty years and co-directed a project in Iran before becoming the director of the AUIS Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage.

Click here to view Dr. Hartnell's resume.

Christine van den Toorn
Senior Advisor

Ms. van den Toorn is the Director of the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, where she taught Middle East history for four years. She has conducted fieldwork all over the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with a particular focus on disputed territories in Ninewa and has delivered talks, moderated panels and been interviewed about her research. She is a reporter for Iraq Oil Report and has published articles with them as well as other leading publications like Inside Iraqi Politics, Daily Beast and Niqash. Ms. van den Toorn has also conducted baseline reports and social impact assessments for major international oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, working with teams of student researchers from AUIS.

Ms. van den Toorn received her M.A. in Middle East History from the University of Virginia and served in the United States Peace Corps in Morocco. She has studied Arabic at Middlebury College and Georgetown University, as well as at the University of Damascus in Syria and the French Institute for Near East Studies in Damascus.

Dr. Bakhtiar Qader Aziz
Advisor for Geophysics

Dr. Bakhtiar Qader Aziz completed a Bachelor of Science specializing in Engineering Geology at Salahaddin University in Erbil, before gaining a M.Sc. in Seismic Reflection Interpretation from Mosul University. Dr. Bakhtiar completed a Ph.D. thesis about using 2D tomography for mapping groundwater resources for the University of Sulaimani. He currently serves as the Dean of Sciences and Science Education at the University of Sulaimani, where he also teaches courses such as Introduction to Geophysics, Ground Penetrating Radar, and Advanced Electrical Resistivity. As part of a university-wide collaboration between AUIS and the University of Sulaimani, Dr. Bakhtiar has been training AUIS staff in geophysics since May 2015. He will serve as co-director of the proposed AUIS geophysical survey project.

Dr. Kozad Mohammad Ahmed
Advisor for Ancient Languages

Dr. Kozad Mohammad Ahmed graduated with a Ph.D. from Leiden University. His speciality is the study of historical texts about the first states of Kurdistan. He translates Hurrian and Akkadian and now serves as the Head of Archaeology at the University of Sulaimani. You can listen to a lecture on the historical evidence of the earliest states in Kurdistan by Dr. Kozad Ahmed in an AUIS podcast. He gave the talk during a symposium on the origins of the Kurdish civilization at AUIS. 

Dr. Gabrielle Puschnigg
Advisor for Ancient Ceramics

One of the leading experts on Sasanian ceramics in the world, Dr. Gabrielle Pushnigg has served as the Sackler Fellow at the Department for the Ancient Near East at the British Museum before joining the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, as a Research Fellow. She now serves as honorary fellow at the Institute of Archaeology and Assistant Director of the Ancient Merv Project.

Ricardo Cabral
Advisor for Virtual Archaeology

Ricardo Cabral is an expert in virtualizing places and objects. He has created 3D virtual landscapes of archaeological sites in Angola, Portugal, and Iraqi Kurdistan. His current project at Kani Shae involves the 3D digitization of all significant objects, making it possible to create exact replicas or digital archives of finds using high-precision lasers. You can see examples of his virtualization projects here

Click here to view Ricardo Cabral's CV.

Mustafa Ahmed
Program Coordinator

Mustafa Ahmed started as program coordinator on July 21, 2015. His job is to provide administrative support for conferences and symposia, assist in archaeological field projects, and help coordinate student volunteers and IRIS Fellows working in cultural heritage, and other supporters. 



Adam Azad 
Project Officer

Adam joined CACHE in the summer of 2017. He is passionate about computer visualization, virtual augmented reality and artificial intelligence. He is the lead project officer and has exhibited strong abilities in project management and coordination. His primary area of expertise is Web Development, in which he has more than seven years of experience. He is also experienced in aerial photography and photogrammetry. Adam’s ultimate goal is to make cultural heritage available to everyone through fun and interactive mediums. You can find CACHE’s 3D models on SketchFab.

Click here to visit Adam’s personal website.