Preserving the Past: the Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments Project

Posted in: Ancient Near East Today, ASOR
544000 By: Helen Malko Since the appearance of the so-called Islamic State or Daesh in Syria and Iraq, the world has been faced with a vicious attack on cultural heritage aimed at erasing the rich and diverse history of the people in this region. Local and international scholars have been working to document and assess the damage inflicted on archaeological and historical sites through various projects that grew in response to Daesh’s activities. However, the destruction and looting of cultural heritage sites and monuments in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, has a longer history rooted in the aftermath of the US invasion of the country and the complete destruction of its infrastructure in 2003. For many years, security worries and chaos prevented archaeologists and heritage specialists from onsite documentation of the heritage sites. It was not until a few years ago when slowly Iraq became accessible once again for archaeologists, and documentation with a possibility for future conservation could begin. It was with this in mind that the idea of the project Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments was born. Zainab Bahrani, the Edith Porada Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology at Columbia University started Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments in 2012 as a means of countering the erasure of the past and the continuous destruction of sites and monuments in the

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