The Field Museum’s experts are currently training Iraqi archeologists in the latest methods of artifact restoration through the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project. Over the next two years, eighteen archeologists will spend six months at the Field Museum to learn advanced techniques in artifact conservation and collections management. Participants can then teach their colleagues to use updated methods in uncovering ancient Mesopotamian relics. The U.S. State Department is supporting the program through a $13 million dollar grant. In 2003, the Iraq National Museum was damaged during the fall of Saddam Hussein’s reign. “There has been a lot of looting in the anarchy since the fall of Saddam,” says James Phillips, PhD, who is the director of the project. The program will also renovate the museum’s structure and improve the facilities with an equipment upgrade. During Hussein’s rule, Iraq’s archeologists were shut off from the international archeological community thus prohibiting them obtaining the latest technology. The program is making strides in changing that by allowing the archaeologists to learn “a whole suite of new technologies to be able to apply to their own cultural heritage,” Phillips says.
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