Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) and UWTSD to Rehabilitate the Citadel of Heet in Anbar


08.06.2022

Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) has announced that it is partnering with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to study and rehabilitate the historic citadel of Heet in Anbar governorate in consultation with the families inhabiting the site and the wider local community.

Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) announced today that it is partnering with University of Wales Trinity Saint David to study and rehabilitate the historic citadel of Heet in Anbar governorate in consultation with the families inhabiting the site and the wider local community.

Photo by Professor Andrew Petersen

The project aims to clean up parts of the site, make it safer for the resident community and conserve certain structures and buildings. The project will then develop a long-term conservation and site management plan to make the citadel suitable for visitors and tourists while raising awareness about its value in world history.

Heet is one of Iraq’s most significant historic cities, having been settled by Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian and later civilisations such as the Abbasids. Known for its production of bitumen, which was used to build the ziggurats of Babylon and in shipbuilding, Heet’s importance was attested by the ruler of the first empire in recorded history, Sargon of Akkad, in the 23rd century BC. The citadel of Heet is one of the most historically significant in Iraq, along with those of Kirkuk and Erbil, and can also be compared with that of Aleppo, Syria.

“Ongoing threats to Heet Citadel include a combination of neglect, unregulated development, urban sprawl and the consequences of armed conflict, including previous occupation by Islamic State”, explains UWTSD archaeologist Professor Andrew Petersen, who will lead the international team working on the citadel. “The work will consist of clearing rubble in select areas and recording archaeological findings, then landscaping those areas, building walkways, installing lighting and stabilising damaged structures”.

Tens of families own homes on the site, potentially complicating these efforts and requiring their input through every stage of the process. “In close consultation with the local community, especially local women, the project will then develop a long-term conservation and site management plan to facilitate its long-term protection, enable the community to continue to live and work there and support tourism”, Petersen says.

By joining forces in this endeavour, SBAH, UWTSD and Liwan demonstrate the value of cooperation and shared experience in heritage conservation, with an innovative approach that hinges on the involvement of the local community, especially women.

According to architect Dr Hossam Mahdy, responsible for site and conservation management at the citadel of Heet, “through adherence to the best international practices, the rehabilitation of the citadel may hopefully serve as a case study for future SBAH projects in Iraq combining archaeological excavation with community outreach and conservation management”.

Scheduled to last 24 months, the project is supported by  the Geneva-based International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH Foundation), with Iraqi heritage conservation NGO Liwan Organisation for Culture and Development acting as the implementing partner.

Further Information

For more information please contact Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 07384 467076 / arwel.lloyd@uwtsd.ac.uk