GHF Award Supports Documentation of Endangered Heritage in Iraq
Supported by the Arcadia Fund and the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund (CPF) and based at the Universities of Oxford, Leicester, and Durham, the EAMENA project was established in 2015 to respond to the increasing threats to archaeological sites in the MENA region. The EAMENA project and its database integrates aerial, satellite and ground observed information. The prime purpose of the CPF grant to the EAMENA project is to provide training in new methodologies to assess threats to significant archaeological sites that have not yet been recorded, and thus improve the chances of monitoring and protecting these sites in the future. Twenty-one workshops for over 150 participants from seven countries have taken place since November 2017.
The EAMENA Project has recently teamed up with Global Heritage Fund (GHF) to offer important opportunities to those involved in our recent training workshops.
GHF’s mission is to empower communities through historic preservation beyond monuments®. The grants provided by GHF thanks to the J.M. Kaplan fund are a wonderful example of this.
The GHF Awards aim to fund community capacity building, training, and grassroots protection of endangered heritage in the MENA region. This year, three documentation projects have received grants, all conducted by heritage experts trained by the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project (EAMENA) for protecting threatened cultural heritage across the MENA region. Read about the progress of the 2019 recipients below, and look out for more updates when they present this December at the 2019 Protecting the Past Conference.
Aqeel Almasrawe is one of the trainees of the EAMENA Project’s Training Scheme, funded by the UK Government’s Cultural Protection Fund (CPF).
He joined the Iraqi State Board for Antiquities and Heritage in 2010, and he quickly learned that many of the most historic sites in ThiQar Province faced extreme threats. Flooding, encroaching sand dunes, looting, urban development, and agriculture endangered historic areas throughout the province. After training with the EAMENA Project, he was excited to apply for the 2019 GHF Awards to further support documentation of threatened heritage in his home province.
Aqeel is passionate about protecting the cultural heritage of his home. “I am a specialist in archaeology, and I deal with heritages and archaeological sites day in and day out. I see it as my duty to protect and record these endangered sites,” he explains.
This project is meaningful for more than just Aqeel. The people of ThiQar are eager to save endangered local historic sites, and they have welcomed Aqeel and his team. “The people see that these sites can help support the local economy through visitation and excavations,” says Aqeel. “Both ordinary people and heritage activities are excited to support this documentation as much as they can.”
The team has already made extensive progress. Having originally identified 90 sites in need of documentation and entry into the EAMENA database, they have already documented and entered 83 sites to date. In addition, they have met with engineers at Desertification Control Service to explore site protection from desertification.
There is still significant work to be done, as the remaining endangered sites must be urgently recorded before they vanish. Aqeel is confident that with the support of the GHF Award, and the key role played by the SBAH in backing his work, these sites will be better protected now and in the years to come. “Without this award, these 90 endangered sites would have been lost forever. Thanks to this documentation, we are able to protect the sites that are so important to the history of ThiQar Province and the local people.”