The British Museum’s Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme
(The British Museum, London, UK)
Keywords: British Museum, Iraq, Training, Emergency Heritage Management
In 2015, in response to the appalling destruction by Daesh of heritage sites in Iraq and Syria, the British Museum developed a scheme which, in the face of frustration and outrage, could offer something positive and constructive. Called the ‘Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme’, or simply ‘Iraq Scheme’ for short, the programme, which is funded by the UK Government, is designed to build capacity in the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage by training 50 of its staff in a wide variety of sophisticated techniques of documentation, geomatics and retrieval and rescue archaeology methodologies. The four-year programme prepares the State Board for the aftermath of destruction – the day when areas of the country, currently occupied by so-called Islamic State, are returned to secure governmental control. The training, undertaken both in the UK and on specially selected archaeological sites in safe areas of Iraq (Tello, ancient Girsu in southern Iraq and Darband-i Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan), is intended to provide participants with the expertise and skills they need to face the challenges of documenting and stabilising severely disrupted and damaged heritage sites in preparation for potential reconstruction.
This paper reports on the progress and impact of the scheme, now in its second year.
This is an invited paper for the Special Session “Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict”.