The Nahrein Network


Large research grants awarded

These awards support interdisciplinary research on themes relating to one or more of the Nahrein Network’s five aims in fostering the sustainable development of antiquity, heritage and the humanities

map illustrating locations of home institutions of large grant awardees



A Cultural Heritage Network for the Kurdistan Region: Challenges and Opportunities

Team: Dr. Saad Bashir Eskander, Dr. Rozhen Kamal Mohammed - Amin, Dr. Alan Faraydoon Ali (Sulaimani Polytechnic University); Prof. Roger Matthews (University of Reading, UK); Dr. Ruth Young (University of Leicester)

Duration: 1 September 2018 - 30 April 2021

The project team will establish a local cultural heritage network and centre based at Sulaimani Polytechnic University, bringing together cultural heritage stakeholders and experts from academia, the NGO sector, and policy-making, as well as the local communities. Structured and semi-structured focus groups and workshops will identify and analyse cultural heritage challenges and opportunities.  A series of seminars and lectures by local and international experts will explore best cultural heritage practices, while increasing connection and interaction among the network members. 

Babylon - Modern Heritage or Ancient Ruin?

Team: Haider Al-Mamori, Ibrahim Algadi, Kadhum Salman (University of Babylon), Mudhar Salim (Iraqi Oragnization for the Conservation of Nature and Culture); Ruth Young, Harjinder Sambhi (University of Leicester); Emma Dwyer (Museum of London Archaeology); Sarah Zaaimi 


Duration: 1 March 2019 - 30 June 2021


The aims of this research project are to:

better understand what the ancient site of Babylon means to the people of nearby Hillah, how it is valued, and their views on the future of the site;  develop new university modules to techniques for standing buildings and satellite imagery within a heritage context; use all this information to support the work of the local government who manage the site, as well as the NGOs and CSOs working towards UNESCO World Heritage inscription.

Rural Heritage Recovery and Post-Conflict Development in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG): The Case of Erbil’s Rural Periphery

Team: Dr Howayda Al-Harithy (American University of Beirut); Dr Jala Makhzoumi (Ecological Landscape expert); Prof Camillo Boano (UCL); Salahaddin Yasin Baper (Salahaddin University)

Duration: 1 September 2019  - 30 June 2021

The project looks at rural-urban heritage in Erbil as a catalyst for socio-economic development in a post-conflict environment.  Villages in Erbil’s rural peripheries are repositories of ancient and vernacular practices which form the cultural identity of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). They include buildings, networks of seasonal and perennial watercourses, forested lands, rangeland, and rain-fed agriculture. However, the rich heritage of these villages is neglected and its inhabitants subject to mass displacement. The research team proposes that, by understanding how rural-urban heritage is conceptualized and practiced by locals and internally displaced people (IDPs), heritage recovery becomes an aid to socio-economic development.

In practice, the project will focus on research, citizen science, and capacity building. The early pilots will take place in the villages of Gazna, Quretain, and Bartoroq. It will train citizen scientists from the periphery of Erbil to participate in the research and co-design a long-term, bottom-up, participatory, socially just, and inclusive framework for heritage recovery. Additionally, the team will design and conduct a capacity building workshop in Erbil.

Open Cultural Heritage Resources and Education (OCHRE): Open Educational Resources as a Platform to Raise Academic Skills and Public Awareness of Cultural Heritage in Iraq

Team: Dr Robin Shields (University of Bristol); Dr Ahmed Al-Imarah (University of Kufa), Dr Waad Ibraheem Khaeel Abad (University of Mosul

Duration: 1 November 2019 - 30 April 2021

The research will investigate the use of Open Educational Resources (OER), such as Massive Online Open Courses, podcasts, and so on, to improve awareness of Iraq’s cultural heritage. The study will look at changes in staff attitudes towards online learning and competencies, including course design and content creation.  

The project will train eight Iraqi university experts in cultural heritage in the design of online courses and help them to design and deliver a new OER. Using questionnaires and focus groups, it will seek to identify topics, outreach strategies, and learning design approaches that promote engagement with and completion of the OER. 

Taken together, the study of academic staff and OER learners will provide an evidence base of how OER can be used to develop critical engagement with cultural heritage in Iraq.  It will also provide a base of skilled professionals and initial content that can motivate future work on OER and open educational resources in Iraq.