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What can a Grand Challenges Small Grant achieve for you?

Small Grant Report for a 2011-12 award

1. Project title

Archaeology, Heritage, and Civilisation in Iraqi Kurdistan

2. Amount


3. Applicants, Departments

Lead Applicant

Professor David Wengrow (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Main collaborator

Professor Karen Radner, (UCL History)

Additional collaborators

Dr Mark Altaweel (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Professor Dorian Fuller (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Professor Arlene Rosen (then UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Dr Robert Carter (UCL Qatar)

4. Summary of project / activity

Launch a new programme of interdisciplinary research in the Shahrizor Plain

of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Initiate sustainable partnerships with the Suleimaniya Board of Antiquities and


In May 2012 six faculty members from UCL and UCL Qatar travelled to Suleimaniya

to consult with local authorities on current research and training priorities in

archaeological research and heritage management. We visited archaeological sites,

local museums and conservation facilities, took environmental samples of ancient

landscapes, and agreed a programme of multi-disciplinary research for the next five


5. Outcomes

a) Leadership

As a direct result of this work it has been possible for Prof. Wengrow and Dr. Carter to set in motion the first major research collaboration between UCL (Institute of Archaeology) and UCL Qatar, which has involved assembling and leading a team of experts in archaeology, environmental science, and conservation in the field. Prof. Fuller, Prof. Radner, and Dr. Altaweel have been similarly able to recruit leading researchers to their individual ventures in Iraqi Kurdistan. Since the completion of this work all individual participants (with the exception of Prof. Rosen, now of Univ. Texas) have returned at least once to the region in order to consolidate working relationships with the Suleimaniya Board of Antiquities, and each has had the

opportunity to develop and/or consolidate new leadership skills and capacity on an international stage. Fuller has conducted a short trial season of excavation at the important Neolithic site of Jarmo. Altaweel and Radner have begun a detailed investigation of long-term climate change in the region. And Wengrow and Carter have completed a full season of archaeological fieldwork spanning two multi-period sites in the vicinity of Halabja.

b) Cross-disciplinarity

Combine UCL and UCL Qatar expertise in archaeology, history, conservation,

museums, and cultural heritage in a common field project.

c) Impacts achieved

i) New collaborations

Establishment of a collaboration with Suleimaniya Board of Antiquities and Museums (SBAM), creating a wide range of opportunities for research and training during our survey and excavation work. Wengrow and Carter have since commenced a major field project (a research collaboration of SBAM, UCL, and UCL Qatar) in the Shahrizor Plain, involving the mapping and excavation of two previously unexplored archaeological sites, as well as engagement with museums, conservation, and heritage professionals in Suleimaniya and Erbil; Altaweel continues his work on environmental change in the same region; and Fuller (UCL, IoA) has secured an excavation permit for the important Neolithic site of Jarmo.

SBAM's Saber Ahmed Saber spent the spring term at UCL, hosted by Altaweel and Radner, in order to prepare the publication of two of SBAM's excavation projects (Sitak, Mirquli). This was funded by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq. Saber remains affiliated to UCL as an Honorary Research Fellow.

ii) Papers submitted

Radner, K. “A Neo-Assyrian legal document from Tell Sitak.“ In Y. Heffron, A. Stone & M. Worthington (eds.), Festschrift J.N. Postgate (working title), Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, forthcoming.

Saber, A.S., Rajab, Z., Altaweel, M. In Review. Report on the Excavations at Merquly: The 2009 Season. Iraq

Saber, A.S., Hamza, H., Altaweel, M. In Review. Report on the Excavations at Tell Sitak. Iraq

Carter, R. and Wengrow, D. (in prep.) “The Shahrizor Prehistory Project: a First Preliminary Report” (to be submitted to the journal Iraq)

iii) Papers published

Altaweel, M., Marsh, A., Muhl, S., Nieuwenhuyse, O., Radner, K., Rasheed, K., Saber, A. S. 2012. New investigations in the Iraqi hilly flanks: Environment, archaeology, and history of the Shahrizor. Iraq:74:1-35.

iv) Grant applications submitted

ERC Advanced Grant application 2013 “Understanding history in a dynamic social-environmental system: Five Millennia in the Shahrizor Plain of Iraq”. Applicant Professor Karen Radner. €1.998,933. APPLICATION FAILED

ERC Consolidator Grant application 2013 “First Global Village”. Applicant Prof. David Wengrow. . €1.998,933. APPLICATION FAILED

ERC Consolidator Grant application 2013 “Understanding Five Millennia in Iraq's Hilly Flanks within a Dynamic Social-Environmental System”. Applicant Dr Mark Altaweel. . €1.998,933. APPLICATION REACHED FINAL ROUND, DECISION PENDING (DUE 12/2013)

v) Grants awarded Seed funding (£20k/annum) has been secured for five seasons fieldwork at the sites of Gurga Ciya and Tepe Marani (D. Wengrow/R. Carter), sourced mainly from UCL Qatar

2013 PI: (with Alan Wilson, UCL) Two small research grants from the UCL and Faculty in the Arts and Humanities (£7,993.50). Grant funds new forms of modelling and simulation work on ancient empires and political dynamics.

2012 - (PI) Small Research Grant for the Faculty in the Arts and Humanities. UCL (£7,350)

d) Novel insights

The critical step has been the agreement and signing of MoDs with the Suleimaniya Board of Antiquities. The Small Grant has been essential in allowing us to obtain first hand information on the current research infrastructure of the region, and to establish viable local partnerships with realistic mid-long term goals. We have also been able to commission a detailed Risk Assessment for fieldwork, tailored to the specific history of the areas in question.

6. Next steps from this project / activity

Over the longer term this project will provide a major vehicle for linking UCL’s expertise across the fields of archaeology, history, and heritage studies, applying them in an area where they are badly needed, and providing opportunities for UCL staff and students to contribute to a wider project of cultural regeneration in one of the Middle East’s most rapidly developing regions. In particular, the excavations conducted in 2012 and 2013 have already provided opportunities for a number of

UCL staff and PhD students.

ERC Consolidator Grants applications by Wengrow and Altaweel focusing on work in Kurdistan are currently under review.

Page last modified on 02 jan 14 15:47