Iraqi experts are currently attending the training programme of the Iraqi-German Expert Forum on Cultural Heritage (IGEF-CH) in Berlin.
IGEF-CH is part of the ArcHerNet joint project “Stunde Null – A Future after the Crisis”. The expert forum provides support to the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq for the preservation of Iraq’s extremely rich cultural heritage. The military conflicts of the last few decades, water damage and soil salination threaten cultural heritage in the region. In Northern Iraq intentional destruction by ISIS is an attack on the cultural identity of the population. Iraqi experts from the regional antiquities authorities and universities face major challenges. The transfer of know-how and science and technology exchange are important conditions for local experts to enable them to counter cultural destruction on their own.
The IGEF-CH programme is intended for Iraqi collaborators from the antiquities authorities and academic teaching staff. The participants acquire the skills to implement autonomous cultural preservation projects and to transfer the acquired knowledge to students. The reinforcement of decision-making skills for the use of traditional and up-to-date technologies is an important objective of the training programme. The two-month training in Berlin is the prelude to a one-year project. During the training year the Iraqi experts analyse a building, document damage and come up with possible solutions for the preservation of monuments.
The participants of the Iraqi-German Expert Forum on Cultural Heritage present their cultural preservation projects | © Götting, DAI.
This year ten Iraqi experts travelled to Berlin to take on a cultural heritage project of their choice. At the German Archaeological Institute the participants discussed possible issues. The scientists came from different regions in Iraq. Their first task was to choose a monument: caravanserai, medieval minaret, citadel or Mesopotamian ziggurat – there was a variety of possibilities. There were also numerous questions posed by the heritage experts: When will the medieval ruin be cleared of mines? How to deal with inhabitants who use a monument as a living place or a cemetery?
After an initial meeting to choose the issues the training programme starts. In addition to education in architectural documentation, geographical information systems (QGIS) and structure from motion (SfM), the training is completed by a course in film making and mud brick techniques. The training in building documentation using up-to-date methods provides the participants with the skills required for the best possible implementation of their project.
IGEF-CH is intensively supervised by the scientific director of the DAI Orient Department, Dr. Margarete van Ess, and by Dr. Ulrike Siegel. The programme is taught in Arabic with the help of engineers Fidaa Hlal, Razan Khalil und Ibrahim Salman. The programme is based on trust and cooperation over decades between the German Archaeological Institute and the State Board of Antiquity as well as teaching concepts developed with the universities of Baghdad and Kufa in cooperative agreements. The German Federal Foreign Office supports the project as part of its cultural preservation programme.
Title Image: The participants of IGEF-CH train the use of Geoinformation systems (QGIS) | © Götting, DAI.
Iraqi-German Expert Forum on Cultural Heritage – Gemeinsam für den Kulturerhalt im Irak