For my last blog post for ANP 264, I explored the topic of “Material Culture at Risk.” At the time, I specifically focused on a Newsweek article I stumbled across that discussed historic sites in Libya that were at risk of being destroyed by ISIS. The article sparked my interest, and I mentioned in my previous blog post that I was interested in exploring the topic further. While I did not initially plan to focus my blog post on the same subject, I explored similar content for this week’s assignment. In preparation for this week’s blog post, I chose to search twitter for the class hashtag (#anp264ss15). A tweet Ethan shared about German archaeologists protecting cultural heritage in Iraq caught my eye.
Upon reading the article, titled “German archaeologists will help protect cultural heritage in Northern Iraq,” that the tweet referenced, I learned that high ranking officials in the Dohuk province of Iraq signed an agreement in early February of this year with a professor at a German university. The agreement aims to preserve historic sites in the province and allows for surveys to expand to cover a larger area in hopes of discovering “ancient and historical settlements.” The agreement signed by officials of the Dohuk province and the German archaeologist paves the way for the historic sites to be preserved. For example, construction to expand a major road connecting Baghdad and Instanbul that runs through the area has been suspended to protect the sites and allow the archaeologists to work. Part of the route has also been changed.
I also saw evidence in the article of stereophotogramity, as archaeologists have used drones to make a 3D image of the area they are surveying. Such imaging has revealed 92 sites. Recent surveys have also demonstrated evidence of a lower city in the area – one that is now believed to possibly have been a major administrative city.
While the area is considered one of the safest provinces in Iraq, it is feeling the effects of the IS terrorist movement. The article cited that the area holds more than 1/2 million refugees. In spite of the “political and humanitarian challenges.,” the Governor of Dohuk signed the agreement because he sees importance of preserving the history of the area. He also believes that it is important to continue life as normal, sending a message in the process that the terrorist threat will not prevent the province from performing important duties like preserving historic sites.
Looking ahead, I am still interested in learning more about how other areas affected by the IS terrorist movement are responding to the threat of historic sites being destroyed.