Focus: Missions in Iraqi Kurdistan, exploration of a new field of research

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Since 2011, Iraqi Kurdistan re-opened its foreign archaeological missions. Despite considerable constraints of a situation that is still unstable, the six new French missions supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development offer archaeologists a new field for exploration.

Some tracts of land have remained inaccessible for several decades, despite exploratory missions conducted in the 1950s. In the present context of the war in Syria, research can be pursued on the history of the Mesopotamian civilization on these sites of ancient Mesopotamia. In addition, these still unexplored tracts of land provide new approaches. The Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO), an institute of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) based in Erbil, is an important partner in scientific and logistical terms for these missions.

The Qasr-Shemamok Mission led by Maria-Grazia Masetti-Rouault, was the first to benefit from the re-opening in 2011. It aims to deepen the knowledge of the Erbil region’s ancient history, which is little known despite its particularly strong potential. It also makes it possible to understand both the contacts between the Iranian world and the Mesopotamian world, and the evolution of local societies at the time the Assyrian State was formed.

The rehabilitation challenge is also taken into consideration. The archaeologist, Jessica Giraud, who is also in charge of a mission (French archaeological mission for the Sulaymaniyah Governorate), implemented an educational course on archaeological maps for local students. The maps are the first step in protecting archaeological sites and heritage teaching students more about the sites that need to be protected and how to locate them.

Image Diaporama - Erbil: excavation of the Palace of the (...)

Erbil: excavation of the Palace of the Assyrian King, Adad-Nirari I. Photo: French Archaeological Mission at Erbil-Qasr Shemamok.

Image Diaporama - Erbil: panoramic view of the excavation work (...)

Erbil: panoramic view of the excavation work site. Photo: French Archaeological Mission at Erbil-Qasr Shemamok.

Image Diaporama - Iraqi professionals training at the Musée du (...)

Iraqi professionals training at the Musée du Louvre (conservation laboratory of the Musées de France) as part of the project “Archaeological Survey of the Soulaimaniah Governorate” (2014). Photo: J. (...)

Image Diaporama - Iraqi professionals training as part of the (...)

Iraqi professionals training as part of the project “Archaeological Survey of the Soulaimaniah Governorate” (2014): Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) training. Photo: J. (...)

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Updated: december 2016

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