The British Museum is embarking on a programme of co-operation with colleagues in Iraq made possible with £3 million grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
This will enable the Museum to deliver a programme of in-depth and specialized training to establish a dedicated corps of Iraqi heritage professionals, fully skilled to deal with the aftermath of the destruction by so-called Islamic State of key archaeological sites such as Nineveh, Nimrud (pictured) and Hatra.
The programme will build on many years of collaboration between the British Museum and our colleagues in Iraq, demonstrated by the Museum’s response to the damage to Iraqi cultural heritage as a result of the last conflict in the region.
While, at present, the situation on the ground in Iraq prevents direct intervention to protect those ancient sites that are currently held by so-called Islamic State, the scheme will instead plan for the day when the territory is returned to effective and legitimate governmental control.
In readiness for this, it is essential that measures are put into place now to ensure that maximum help and support are available to the appropriate authorities to allow them to record and document the scale and extent of the destruction and to begin the processes of reconstruction and preservation.