A tour of the Museum, arranged under the Iraq Scheme

Iraq Scheme

In response to the destruction of heritage sites in Iraq and Syria by Daesh (or Islamic State) in 2015, the British Museum developed the Iraq scheme.

It aimed to offer something positive and constructive, in the face of frustration and outrage from this destruction.

Backed by the UK government, the British Museum was granted £2.9 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

The four-year programme finishes in 2020 and aims to rebuild the destruction caused by Daesh – now defeated – during its reign.

Teaching vital rescue techniques

Teaching vital rescue techniques

The Iraq Scheme – a pilot project for the Cultural Protection Fund – builds capacity in the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage by training 50 of its staff in a wide variety of retrieval and rescue archaeology techniques.

The programme, undertaken first in the UK and then on two specially selected archaeological sites in areas of Iraq, delivers state-of-the-art training in all aspects of archaeological fieldwork.

This includes geophysical and geomatic surveying and documentation, to complex excavation methodology.

The training gives participants the expertise and skills they need to document and stabilise severely disrupted and damaged heritage sites in preparation for potential reconstruction.

The scheme operates in six-month cycles, with each group of six to eight participants spending two to three months at the British Museum, followed by two to three months in the field in Iraq: Tello and Darband-i Rania. The two excavation projects have provided an ongoing wealth of experience for the participants.

A significant impact

A significant impact

The first group of participants arrived at the Museum in May 2016 and completed their field training in Iraq in November of the same year. The final group will complete their training by the end of 2019.

The participants come from all provinces of Iraq and they're already helping to shape the future of the country's archaeological heritage. One of the 'graduates' from our first group has been appointed by the Iraqi State Board to lead the assessment of the site of Nimrud, released from Daesh control and a graduate of our second group has been made Director of Mosul Museum. In addition, another participant has been appointed Director of Anbar province and one has recently published a book on northern Mesopotamia.

Thank you

Thank you

The British Museum is grateful for the support and funding for the Iraq Scheme from the UK government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) since 2015. We'd also like to thank Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage for their collaboration and the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in London for their assistance throughout the project. We're also thankful for Turkish Airlines for enabling our participants and staff to transport equipment to Iraq, and for the many individuals who've supported the project and delivered training since the project's beginning.