The damage done to archeological and heritage sites in Iraq under ISIS did not stop when these places were liberated and the radical group expelled, says Abdullah Qader, the director of Iraqi institute for Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil.
He believes that the damage to major sites such as Nimrud and
monasteries and churches should have been documented immediately after
liberation, which was not the case, for lack of planning and money.
Qader, who also heads the Association of Archaeologists in Kurdistan,
argues that the sites should be closed until proper documentation is
done to make ensure that nothing is or will get stolen and so rebuilding
will be possible.
What should be the policy for the archeological sites, after ISIS?
Abdullah Qader If I were to decide, I would send
teams of archeologists with the army to start documenting the sites. But
we are an institute for training, and this is an issue for the
authorities in Baghdad. Only in Mosul we had ninety archeologists
working, as guides, supervisors, teachers; most of them are now living
in Duhok, Sulaimani and Erbil. What is their role now? In Amman, a
workshop has been held for ten archeologists in Iraq and Syria, who even
got a bag with cameras and other things to use for the documentation of
liberated sites. But we see on TV that churches are being liberated and
then people go there and start cleaning. That should not happen. First
the damage needs to be documented, then they can clean. I would prefer
these areas to be closed so that nobody can go there until the
specialist teams have done their work.
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