The shasha reed bundle boat is a fishing boat made from reeds. In this picture two people sit and talk in a slim tailed boat in the middle of a green water.
Shasha reed bundle boat on the Euphrates ©

Rashad Salim

From documenting endangered watercraft heritage to recording, protecting and sharing Yazidi musical culture, there have been several projects that have taken place relating to Iraq, including a current 10-month project that is running until 2021. 

Find out more about the projects:

An Ark for Iraq

£108,196 awarded to Safina Projects to revitalise and document the endangered watercraft heritage of traditional boats in central and southern Iraq. This project is delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources - Centre for Restoration of Iraq's Marshes and Wetlands (CRIMW); Ministry of Culture - Basra Museum; the Natural History Museum of Basra; Dhi Qar University; Basrah University and Humat Dijlah.

In total, the project documented nine different boat types, including the construction of the Guffa coracle; three wooden Meshouf canoe types: Tarada, Matour, and Houri; and three basketry boat types. The project facilitated three boatbuilding workshops in Hilla, Huwair and Hit, to engage different communities at different locations. Boat reconstructions were documented through oral history interviews with experienced makers. Finally, a short documentary film showing the boat building craft has been created.

Archaeological practice and heritage protection in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

£301,178 awarded to University of Glasgow to monitor site damage to the archaeological heritage of Garmian, increase the capacity of local heritage professionals, and engage local communities with their heritage. This project is delivered in partnership with the Directorate of Antiquities, Suleymaniyah Governorate, Dartmouth College, and The Institute for Heritage and Sustainable Development (INHERIT), part of York Archaeological Trust for Research and Excavation Ltd.

The project has achieved numerous objectives including the creation of a geodatabase of 360 surveyed sites and the training of 40 antiquities officials in heritage protection policy development and site monitoring. In addition, the project established two educational museum spaces, designed to be appropriate for children, at the Slemani Museum and Garmian Civilizations Museum, Kalar.

The completion of the new Basrah Museum

£771,725 awarded to The Friends of Basrah Museum (FOBM)  to complete three galleries in the newly opened Basrah Museum, in Iraq. This project is delivered in partnership with The Department of Antiquities and Heritage, Basrah; The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, Baghdad; and HWH & Associates. This project was awarded a grant extension in our closing round, to develop a heritage resource centre within Basrah Museum which will house and share the British Institute for the Study of Iraq’s library collection.

The three galleries have been completed along with the installation of display cases, in order to provide a secure and well-managed environment for display and storage of cultural heritage. Additionally, the library has been completed with all furniture, desks and equipment in place and staff having received full training in library skills.

Ground survey, documentation and protection

£329,780 awarded to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Manchester to survey and document the pre-Islamic Alexandrian city of Charax, as well as 14 other sites in the Basrah Province (Southern Iraq) to increase understanding and provide baseline data for the management and support of the sites. This project is delivered in partnership with the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), Iraq.

In total, the project has recorded 34 sites and has also contributed material to the Basrah Museum Gallery.

Planning the future of Amedi

£100,000 awarded to World Monuments Fund Britain to enhance and document built heritage in the historic town of Amedi in Iraq. This project is delivered in partnership with The University of Dohuk.

Aerial footage of the entire town of Amedi was recorded to document the heritage of the town’s architecture and landscape. Oral and written interviews were gathered from a representative selection of local stakeholders and over 100 members of the local community engaged in community outreach and engagement workshops about what Amedi means to them. Through these documentation and outreach activities, the project designed a cultural heritage framework to improve the town for the local population.

Preserving Yazidi heritage and identity

£96,800 awarded to The University of Liverpool (UoL) to engage young Yazidis, and provide them with the relevant training to support them to engage with, record and share their cultural heritage. This project is delivered in partnership with the Printing and Media Centre of Khak TV and the Directorate of Antiquities of Sulaymaniyah (DAS).

Young adult Yazidis took part in documentary film-making workshops in relation to built and intangible heritage and oral history. As a result of this, a number of films have been produced recording the oral history and Yazidi memories of the festivals, pilgrimages, rituals and other social practices. The films were broadcast on national TV and received tens of thousands of views on social media channels. 

Recording, protecting and sharing Yazidi musical culture in Northern Iraq

£250,955 awarded to AMAR International Charitable Foundation to record and document Yazidi music, and develop a teaching programme guided by the Yazidi Spiritual Council (YSC) for Yazidis in the displacement camps of northern Iraq. This project is delivered in partnership with Yazidi Spiritual Council and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

The project held lessons in traditional Yazidi music, led by ten teachers across five IDP camps, reaching a total of 450 students. It also established a Yazidi women’s choir at Khanke camp. Over 100 recordings have been created which consist of 93 religious and 32 folk songs as well as a selection of songs notated.

Training in Endangered Archaeology Methodology

£2,161,054 awarded to a consortium of three UK higher education institutions (University of Oxford, University of Leicester, and University of Durham) with the University of Oxford acting as the lead applicant, to train archaeologists from eight countries in the use of an open-source aerial recording methodology, designed for conflict zones and other areas where access to the ground is restricted. This project is delivered in partnership with the Department of Antiquities, Jordan; Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, Palestine; General Organisation of Antiquities and Museums, Yemen; Department of Antiquities, Libya; Directorate General of Antiquities, Lebanon; Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisia; State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, Iraq; Ministry of State of Antiquities, Egypt; and Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt.

To date, 170 archaeologists have been trained in the use of an open-source recording methodology designed for conflict zones and areas with restricted ground access. Additionally, the project has contributed to enhancing records by supporting the creation of national databases.

10-month project for 2020-21

£749,790 has been awarded following the Impact round in order to capitalise on previous work. This involves extending the use of the database, better management of archaeological sites and by training professionals in local countries on new techniques in heritage management.