Sunday, 2 October 2011

Italy to Help Iraq Preserve the Past

It has been announced by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities that Italy has agreed to train Iraqi archaeologists and modernize several halls of Iraq’s National Museum.
Abdulzahra Talaqani said some of the halls dedicated to the Assyrian and Islamic civilizations were to be rehabilitated by the Italians. He said the sides have signed a memorandum on the latest Italian assistance to the country’s national heritage.“The Italian side, in accordance with the memorandum, shall rehabilitate the 2nd Assyrian Hall in the museum and an Islamic hall. The agreement also calls for the training of Iraqi personnel involved in excavation and tourism,” said Talaqani. The Italian side will pay for the rehabilitation and the training, he added. Italy is actively involved in upgrading Iraqi museums. Previously, it rehabilitated two other halls in the museum and offered designs for the repair and modernization of provincial museum in Najaf, Nasiriya and Diwaniya. Italian experts have organized several seminars for their Iraqi counterparts on how to preserve and safeguard antiquities."
We recall that it was the Italians who (as part of the US-led 'Coalition of the Willing' which shamefully attacked Iraq in 2003) took the cultural preservation more seriously than most, sending a team of specially trained carabinieri there to protect archaeological sites. It is good to see this activity followed up in times of peace by concrete action in the form of international co-operation and exchange of expertise.

Shaymaa Adel, 'Italy to train Iraqi archaeologists and rehabilitate National Museum', Azzaman, September 30, 2011
Vignette: Assyrian hall in National Museum in Baghdad

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