Archaeologists help cultural heritage in Northern Iraq
High-ranking officials from the autonomous Kurdish province of Dohuk have signed an agreement with Professor Peter Pfälzner of Tübingen University’s Institute of Ancient and Near Eastern Studies, aimed at researching and preserving Dohuk’s ancient sites.
Pfälzner, an archaeologist who has worked in Syria and Iraq for many years, signed the declaration with Dohuk governor, Farhad Saleem Atrushi, and the Director of the region’s Departments of Antiquities, Dr. Hasan Qasim in Tübingen on February 5, 2015.
Under the agreement, Pfälzner and his project team – part of the DFG-backed collaborative research centre Resource Cultures – plan to expand on surveys taken over an area of 4400 square kilometres in 2013 and 2014, which were aimed at discovering ancient and historical settlements. The archaeologists used dronemounted cameras to make 3D models of the landscape and have already located 92 relevant sites. Many of the settlements can be dated by finds such as pottery sherds.
Cooperation between the archaeologists and the local authorities will enable important sites to be protected. The Bronze Age settlement of Bassetki became famous due to objects such as a bronze statue of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin found during excavations in the 1970s. Pfälzner’s latest survey of the area revealed an extensive lower city at the site – and the Kurdish authorities have agreed to suspend expansion there of the main road from Baghdad to Istanbul and to change part of the route to allow archaeological work to be carried out. Going ahead with the road-building would have destroyed this part of the ancient site.
Despite the explosive political situation in nearby regions, Governor Atrushi stressed that Dohuk is one of the safest provinces in Iraq. It is located between two mountain ranges and is protected by Peshmerga troops. The United Nations estimates the region now hosts more than half a million refugees from the campaigns of the IS terrorist movement. Governor Atrushi underlined that it was important to protect the region’s history despite the tremendous political and humanitarian challenges: ‘We must send a signal that normal life continues. That includes protecting our historical sites’.
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