The State Board of Antiquities (SBAH) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have been extremely supportive of this initiative. The Governor of Erbil provided the former Erbil central library for use as a large residential teaching facility in downtown Erbil, and the KRG Prime Minister committed funds to renovate, equip and furnish the building. As part of this project the University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum, and the Walters Art Museum worked in partnership to design and develop a state-of-the-art training institute where modern concepts in cultural and historic preservation could be taught. The Institute facility now includes full accommodations for up to 28 students (equal facilities on separate floors for 14 men and 14 women, including 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, etc.), up-to-date, fully-equipped conservation laboratories (including a general lab, a "clean lab," and a "dirty lab"), a digital documentation laboratory (CAD, GIS, Digital Imaging), a secure collections storage room, three classrooms and a library stocked with books and periodicals donated by U.S and Iraqi individuals and institutions. Additional facilities include office, conference, and exhibit/event space, outdoor demonstration areas (designed for showcasing traditional building techniques and performing mock archaeological digs), security facilities, loading dock, and a small gymnasium. Dormitories have been incorporated within the walls of the Institute facility so that all students could live in a safe environment and develop close relationships with newly-met colleagues. Academic Director Jessica Johnson’s archived weblog of the Institute’s construction is available through this link.
During an Open House held at the Institute on December 13th, 2010, Martin Quinn, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs in the US Embassy in Baghdad, described the Institute as “nothing short of miraculous” and noted he had never seen anything like this in Iraq or the rest of the Middle East.Those in attendance – from Baghdad to Erbil agreed.
Despite these important and exciting first steps, Iraq continues to suffer from a critical deficit of expertise in cultural heritage preservation and management, exacerbated by the challenges of a damaged national museum system and archaeological site plundering that occurred on an unprecedented scale in recent years. In recognition of these needs and with a mandate from our Iraqi colleagues who recognize that they are not yet prepared to carry out training alone, we have expanded our core partners to include the University of Arizona, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Conservation Institute to broaden our areas of expertise. A recent award by the US Department of State will allow us to augment the existing academic program, and we are actively seeking donations of supplies, particularly books for the Institute library.
Other Programs at the Institute
The IICAH is also being used by programs initiated by other countries. The largest of these is an Italian training program. The program is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and executed by Italian experts for the Superior Institute for Conservation and Restoration in Rome of the Italian Ministry of culture and is part of the Cooperation Initiatives of the Italian Government. In 2011 this program offered courses on preventive conservation of manuscripts (3 months) Sumerian and Akkadian language (3x 1 month), conservation of antique carved ivories (2x 6 weeks) conservation of archeological metal (2x 6 weeks) .
For 2012 this program will offer an advanced course on preventive conservation of manuscripts (6 months) and a course on Sumerian and Akkadian language and conservation of clay tablets (3x 1 month).
An archaoelogical field school at the site of Kelek Mishik was jointly sponsored by the Polish Embassy in Baghdad, the IICAH, Salahaddin University in Erbil, Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań, Warsaw University and the “Past and Present” Foundation. Archaeologists from the University of Athens have used the dorminory facilities and laboratory facilities to support their excavations at Tell Nadir. Over time it is hoped that more and more of these collaborations will develop to support archaeological and historical researh throughout the country.