Case study of Erbil

(TU-Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

Keywords: Erbil, Heritage, Conflict, State-building, Identity

Civil Wars have dominated the late twentieth-century leaving many cities vulnerable. Since World War II there has been a marked shift in global warfare trends from interstate to intrastate conflict, and the clashes are mainly concentrated in the big urban centers. In such cases (Intrastate armed conflict) the battle-related death is highly from urban civilians same goes to destruction apart from infrastructure.
Armed conflicts in the middle east did not stop since World War II (Palestine-Israel, Lebanon Civil War, Syrian Conflict), leaving the basic urban centers almost totally destroyed, where in a place like the middle east, most of the big cities evolved around a still existing historical core. The worst part is that sometimes, executed plans of rehabilitation and rebuilding, causes a greater damage than the battle-related destruction itself.
This paper aims to give a short review about the armed conflict in the Middle East, and the divided cities as a side effect. Based on the study case of Erbil in northern Iraq, it gives an overview of the main obstacles in defining the strategies of rehabilitation. The second part is devoted to showing the methods followed in my PhD research “Strategies of rehabilitation in the old city of Erbil” and its results. The last part brings to discussion the final question of identity, and the role of architectural monuments as a tool for the state building.

Relevance conference / Relevance session:
It is relevant for the conference as an update for an ongoing project, with similar and different methodologies of mapping

My project is in the field of building archaeology, concentrating on building arcaheology in a city context.


  1. Divided Cities: Belfast, Beirut, Jerusalem, Mostar, and Nicosia (City in the Twenty-First Century)
  2. Entwicklung und Struktur einer orientalisch-islamischen Stadt, Damaszener Forschungen 1, Mainz 1989.