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Press launch: New tasks introduced to guard cultural heritage abroad

  • 30 million cultural protection funds support the preservation of conflict-endangered sites of the international cultural heritage
  • The University of Glasgow project will preserve the archaeological heritage in an area oppressed by Saddam Hussein’s forces

A project to preserve unique archaeological sites in Iraqi Kurdistan that are up to 10,000 years old is being invested by the British government’s 30 million cultural protection fund, Minister of Culture Michael Ellis announced today.

This is one of nine major overseas projects benefiting from the Cultural Protection Fund, which exists to protect heritage of international importance threatened by conflict in countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Garmian region was part of the front line during the Iran-Iraq war, suffered damage from Saddam Hussein’s repression against the Kurds in the 1990s, and is just a few kilometers from the 2014 IS front line. Recent conflicts have damaged and destroyed sites that contain important information and artifacts from ancient Mesopotamian civilizations.

The University of Glasgow is building a team to use satellite and aerial imagery to document and monitor the damage at Garmian before making recommendations on how best to conserve the site. The team, which has received more than 300,000 from the Culture Protection Fund, will also train local archaeologists and work with school teachers in the area to highlight cultural heritage in their classrooms.

Michael Ellis, UK Minister for Cultural Heritage said:

These sites tell the story of humankind and show how our early ancestors first grew and cultivated food. Your protection is therefore not only important to Kurdistan, but to all of humanity.

This project is just one example of how our cultural protection fund provides essential support to countries where internationally significant cultural heritage has been damaged or threatened by war, conflict and terrorism.

Tragically, we have seen some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures destroyed in the past few years. It is important and right that we share our expertise and support communities around the world to help preserve the arts, culture and heritage of global importance.

Stephen Stenning, Head, Arts and Society at the British Council said:

Important cultural heritage – from music archives to ancient archaeological sites – is at risk of deteriorating significantly, or simply being lost forever.

The work of the British Council, which manages the Cultural Protection Fund, provides vital support to local organizations working to protect and preserve cultural heritage. This latest round of funding for innovative and ambitious projects expands valuable and ongoing conservation work, training and education. By employing locals, developing skills and building capacity, this work also benefits the local economy.

Since its inception, the Culture Protection Fund has supported work on 41 projects aimed at restoring and protecting cultural heritage sites in each of the 12 countries in which it operates.

Notes to the editors:

The Culture Protection Fund, set up by the UK Government and the British Council in 2016, aims to protect conflict-threatened heritage in countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The University of Glasgow team is led by archaeologist Dr. Claudia Glatz headed. She said:

Our project is unique in its approach to the protection of cultural heritage in Iraq and the Middle East. We combine research-led archaeological practice as part of the ongoing surveys and excavations of the Sirwan Regional Project with knowledge sharing, capacity building in practical skills and the social and political implications of interpretation and cultural narration, and the creation of inclusive museums and community-oriented educational resources.

The nine projects that were funded in this round of the Kulturschutzfonds are:

  1. Action for Hope Music Schools for Refugees, Lebanon – 290,073 Led by Action for Hope (ASBL), this project aims to increase the recognition of traditional Syrian music among a population of 20,000 refugee and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan.
  2. Archaeological Practice and Monument Conservation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq – 301.178 Led by the University of Glasgow, this project will document and monitor damage to Garmian’s archaeological heritage in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, as well as increasing the capacities of local heritage experts through qualification workshops and field training and the involvement of local communities in their cultural heritage.
  3. Community Museums of Western Sudan: Omdurman, El Obeid, Nyala, Sudan – 997,000 Under the direction of the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), this project will restore three museums after decades of conflict and for educational purposes – and cultural needs of their communities, visitors and tourists.
  4. An Ark for Iraq: Emergency Relief Program for the Endangered Watercraft Heritage in Iraq – 99,246 Led by Safina Projects CIC, this year’s project expands Safina Projects’ ongoing work to revive and document the endangered heritage of traditional boat craft in central and southern Iraq .
  5. Planning Amedi’s Future: Building Community Capacity and Management Framework to Protect Historic City in Iraq – 100,000 This project is sponsored by World Monuments Fund Britain Ltd. directed and aims to enhance and document the built heritage in the historic city of Amedi, Iraq.
  6. Assessment of the Condition of the Afghan National Art Collection, Afghanistan – 50,000 Led by the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society, this project will conduct a preliminary needs assessment and restoration work on 150 paintings in the Afghan National Collection that have been destroyed by the Taliban. Capacity Building to Protect Palestinian Land and Heritage through Museology, Occupied Palestinian Territories – 94,650
  7. Led by the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at the University of Bethlehem, this project will document the Palestinian ethnographic heritage with particular attention to the agricultural practices along the cultural route of the Abrahamic Path in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  8. The Life Jacket: The Revitalization and Development of Rural Jerusalem, Occupied Palestinian Territories – 1,018,470 Under the direction of RIWAQ – Center for Architectural Conservation, which will work with local communities and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiques to develop the historic centers of Al Jib, Qalandiya, to restore. Jaba and Kafr Aqab
  9. Preserving the living memory of the Bedouin Pastoral Routes and Heritage in Lebanon – 100,000 This project is led by the Institute for Heritage and Sustainable Human Development and aims to collect and archive the skills and traditions of the Bedouins from the Bekkaa Valley in Lebanon and share. The Bedouins are a group of nomadic people who have traditionally inhabited

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