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Iraq: the Italian cooperation of the safeguarding and enhancement of the Erbil Citadel

The joint Cooperation project by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and La Sapienza University, named “Safeguard and Enhancement of the Cultural Heritage of the Region of Kurdistan in Iraq” has concluded its activities, with various conferences held at the Erbil Citadel and at the Museums in Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Duhok.

This project, set up by the Anquities Department in La Sapienza University- Rome, on a mandate by  the MAECI Development Cooperation, was born in 2012 with an aim to help Iraqi Kurdish authorities in the formation of archaeologists, restoration technicians and experts in the field of safeguarding and enhancing the heritage of the region.

During the implementation of the project, the group of experts from La Sapienza, led by Professor Carlo G. Cereti, operated in parallel with the Directorate General for Antiquities in the Kurdistan Regional Government, as well as with the Museum Directorates of  Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Duhok, and with the High Commission for the Erbil Citadel Revitalization (HCECR). Various training courses were organized and methodological update was provided to Kurdish operators while always supporting the action of local partners by means of joint documentation, safeguarding and studying  activities.

Nine training courses, held both in Italy and Kurdistan, were provided. Alongside the courses, exhibits, publishing and geophysical prospections were part of the output of the program, as well as archaeological heritage documentation campaigns.

The 2014 crisis did not lead to a stop in these activities, notwithstanding delays and difficulties. On the contrary, it reinvigorated the will to help and support local institutions fighting for the protection of an heritage that belongs to humanity as a whole.

The final meetings of this project, far from pointing to a conclusion of Italian commitment in the region ( Italy’s action is represented by three archaeological mission and several cooperation activities within this area) were an important occasion to assess the results reached so far as well as to strengthen ties with the local partners.