Italy for Cultural Heritage of Iraqi Kurdistan
The cooperation project “Safeguard and Enhancement of Cultural Heritage in Iraqi Kurdistan”, directed in 2012 by the Department of Sciences of Antiquity - Sapienza University of Rome, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has its origins in a long series of constructive scientific relations with the local counterpart.
The activities of the Italian-Iraqi joint mission, carried out in the provinces of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, begun with a preliminary survey in Sulaimaniya, in February 2006. This way The Italian Institute for Africa and the East , IsIAO, was one of the first institutions to develope relationshipa with regional institutions after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. This pilot project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the funds of the Iraq Task Force. In July 2006 a second mission was organized and, in accordance with the local authorities, the first research activities on this territory were planned. These activities started with an archaeological campaign during autumn 2007. During this period a group of Italian archaeologists, restorers and epigraphists worked as consultants and agreed with the Directorate of Antiquities of the KRG, the preliminary stages of the "Paikuli Project", in order to study, restore and the excavate the site of the memorial tower of Paikuli. At the same time the team worked on the reorganization of the inscribed blocks of the site of Paikuli in the Slemani Museum.
During 2007 and 2008 training courses of the duration of two months were organized in Italy. Eight members of the staff of the Museum of Sulaimaniya and ten members of the Directorates of Antiquity of Sulimaniya, Erbil and Dohuk attended these courses, organized by IsIAO in collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Ostia Antica. At the end of the courses several conferences were organized, for the dissemination of the results of the project, involving institutional authorities of the Kurdish Regional Government.
The years 2009-2010 mark an important step for the Italian Cooperation project. The activities carried out during these 18 months involved various aspects related to the training of local staff and the enhancement of the Kurdish museums and archaeological sites of the three provinces of the autonomous region.
Thanks to agreements with the local authorities such as the Ministry of Municipality and Tourism and the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization, it has been possible to articulate a series initiatives in various fields such as archaeological documentation, cataloguing, survey, conservation plans and GIS design.
Since 2012 the new cooperation project supported by the Department of Sciences of Antiquity - Sapienza University of Rome, is continuing all those activities which over the years have cemented the relationship between the two countries in the field of the Cultural Heritage.