UK Heritage Minister announces grants for projects in Middle East and North Africa
- £30 million Cultural Protection Fund supports conservation of international cultural heritage sites threatened by conflict
- University of Glasgow project will preserve archaeological heritage in a region suppressed by Saddam Hussein’s forces
A project to preserve unique archaeological sites in Iraqi Kurdistan dating back up to 10,000 years is to receive investment from the UK Government’s £30 million Cultural Protection Fund, Heritage Minister Michael Ellis announced today.
This is one of nine major overseas projects that will benefit from the Cultural Protection Fund which exists to safeguard heritage of international importance threatened by conflict in countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
The Garmian region was part of the front line during the Iran-Iraq War, suffered damage under Saddam Hussein’s repression of the Kurds in the 1990s and is only kilometres away from ISIS’ 2014 front line. The recent conflicts have led to the damage and destruction of sites containing key information and artefacts from ancient Mesopotamia’s civilisations.
The University of Glasgow is constructing a team to document and monitor the damage in Garmian using satellite and aerial imaging, before recommending how the site can be best preserved. The team, which has received more than £300,000 from the Cultural Protection Fund, will also train local archaeologists and work with school teachers in the area to highlight cultural heritage in their classrooms.
Michael Ellis, UK Minister for Heritage, said:
These sites tell the story of human history and show how our early ancestors first farmed and cultivated food. Their protection is therefore not only important to Kurdistan, but to all of humankind.
This project is just one example of how our Cultural Protection Fund is providing essential support to countries where internationally important heritage has been damaged or threatened by war, conflict and terrorism.
Tragically we have seen some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures destroyed in recent years. It is important, and right, that we share our expertise and support communities around the world to help preserve art, culture and heritage of global significance.
Stephen Stenning, Head, Arts and Society at British Council, said:
Important cultural heritage – from archives of music to ancient archaeological sites – is at risk of significant degradation or simply being lost forever.
British Council’s work managing the Cultural Protection Fund provides vital support to organisations on the ground working to protect and preserve heritage. This latest round of funding for innovative and ambitious projects, extends valuable and ongoing conservation work, training, and education. By employing local people, developing skills and building capacity, this work also benefits the local economy.
Since its launch, The Cultural Protection Fund has supported work on 41 projects to restore and protect heritage sites in each of the 12 countries it operates in.