文化遺産国際協力コンソーシアム Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage JCIC-Heritage logo JCIC-Heritage

Third Country Cultural Heritage Training

Third Country Cultural Heritage Training

The Institute for Cultural Studies of Ancient Iraq, Kokushikan University

Iraq

The Umm Qais site and etc.

2004-2009 Human Resource Development,Conservation and Restoration
01/03/2011
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BACKGROUND

Ancient Civilization of Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia which boasts one of the oldest civilizations in the world originated in the Republic of Iraq. The history of Iraq starts from the Paleolithic Period as indicated by the caves and rock remains in the mountainous area of Northern Iraq. Then there was the Neolithic Period shown by the domestication of crops and animals in the plateau and the base of the Fertile Crescent. Then it gradually became more urbanized shown by the city-state of Sumer in south Mesopotamia which saw the birth and development of civilization; Akkad in central Mesopotamia which ruled the whole of Mesopotamia; the Old Babylonian Empire, Assyria in north Mesopotamia which ruled the Orient; and then there was the rise and fall of the ancient civilization of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in central Mesopotamia. Further, the Islamic civilization started to flourish in the empire capital of Baghdad in the Abbasid Caliphate of the Islamic Age. As described above, Iraq has a long history of civilization, and is a cultural superpower in terms of its legacy of plentiful and excellent cultural heritage.

The Iraq War and Cultural Heritage

The looting of the National Museum of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War and the Iraq War which broke out in March, 2003 is still fresh in our minds. Further, the Museum of Iraq was not the only place affected. The central library and university library were also looted, causing immeasurable damage. Security remains unstable in Iraq and valuable cultural heritage has been damaged in recent years such as the illegal digging of remains. Further, some cultural heritage has been taken out of the country and there currently seem to be little prospect of the post-war recovery of cultural heritage.

Training scene - practical surveying lesson

Umm Qais site

ACTIVITIES

Support to Recover Cultural Heritage in Iraq

The International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Iraq was established by UNESCO to start working on the recovery of cultural heritage in Iraq. Based on the advice of that Committee, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNESCO, the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Institute for Cultural Studies of Ancient Iraq, Kokushikan University co-hosted third world cultural heritage training. It was decided at an experts conference held in September, 2004 that training would be held at the Umm Qais site in Iraq's neighboring country of Jordan, and 15 Iraqis and 5 Jordanians were invited for training from spring, 2005. The objective was to provide training in various areas and put this into practice at the Umm Qais site. These training areas included studying locational conditions, environmental research (geography and environment teams), excavational research (archaeology team), conservation and restoration (conservation science, civil engineering and construction team), and then applying such cultural Heritage (cultural heritage team). One to two month training was provided for 15 people in the summer and two week training for 4 people in the spring. Lecturers were mainly made up of members of the “Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Academic Frontier’’ Project - “Cultural Heritage studies for the Reconstruction of Social Infrastructure in Post-war Iraq”(2005 to 2009) (Research representative: Ken Matsumoto). Further, German and Umm Qais investigation team researchers and UNESCO experts also took control of training. This training continued until the summer of 2007, and subsequent training was implemented up to the summer of 2009.

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The excavated area of the Umm Qais site

RESULTS

Umm Qais Site in Jordan

The Umm Qais site, where Iraqi researchers were trained and investigative research was undertaken, is known as one of the ten cities of the Decapolis (federation of 10 cities) of the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The city was called Gadara is ancient times. There was a colonnaded street stretching east to west for 1.7 km in this city of Gadara, and a theater, a nymphaeum, baths, imperial forum, an octagonal hall, and an amphitheater line both sides of the street. The section of the site targeted for training and investigative purposes was the area inside the city gates of the early Roman era. As well as being a public facility, this place allows us to investigate the everyday lives of ordinary citizens throughout the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad eras. In regard to the findings of the excavational research, a large facility with a mosaic floor and a building that appears to be the house of a citizen were excavated. Coins, tiles, and fragments of earthenware, glass and animal bones were also collected from the site. Discussions are ongoing with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan about how to restore and conserve this excavated street, buildings and relics, as well as about how to use them for educational and tourist purposes.
Further, exchange between a girls’ junior high school near the Umm Qais site and Misono Elementary School in Tokyo was conducted via the Internet. Such activities foster deeper mutual understanding of the importance of cultural heritage and of other cultures.

Training Results and Future Issues

Investigative research at Umm Qais and cultural exchange activities were used to train Iraqi researchers, increasing awareness of cultural heritage protection and activities in Iraq. Further, these trainees have applied knowledge, skills, and experiences gained through this training to training and awareness-raising activities in Iraq, and these activities have gained a high reputation.
There are plans to carry out training with leading technology, and there have also been requests to implement training for even more Iraqi people involved in cultural heritage activities. The day when order is restored and cultural heritage training can be carried out in Iraq itself is awaited.

Computer and GPS training

Exchanging works such as calligraphy pictures

The excavated area of the Umm Qais site

MAP