New Aerial Survey of Iraqi Antiquities

“The report contains data gathered from satellite images and unmanned reconnaissance flights between 2015 and April 2017," he said. "It also contains several old photos from archaeological expeditions since the 1930s, reinforced by field information gathered from the inhabitants of the archaeological sites. Prepared under the supervision of archaeology experts, [the report provides] accurate details of what was destroyed in Ninevah. It also contains expert analysis on the extent of the damage and proposed methods of restoration.”

Shammari explained that to further compare the state of the site before and after the destruction, they will use an image analysis method involving a laser device to determine exactly which parts are missing or damaged.

He added, “According to the agreement with the Italian side and UNESCO, the first step would be to implement an emergency plan to rehabilitate the destroyed archaeological sites and to provide security protection. We will also begin urgent repair operations, make an itinerary of destroyed and lost items and try to track looted pieces. This will be done in cooperation with INTERPOL, governments and international archaeologists.”

Shammari said that in May, the independent archaeologist Mary Shepperson had begun a British Council-run program in London to provide eight weeks of training to Iraqi archaeologists in modern archaeological practices. The program is funded by the council's Cultural Protection Fund.

Iyad al-Shammari, rapporteur of the parliamentary archaeological committee, told Al-Monitor that the aerial survey has two stages. The first, already completed, dealt with Ninevah. The second stage, to take place later this year, also under UNESCO supervision, will cover archaeological sites in the center and south of the country.

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