Ar­chae­ol­o­gists help cul­tural her­itage in North­ern Iraq

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOG­ICAL NEWS -

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’.

Herds­men on the Jebel Bi­har plane

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