Thursday, 14 August 2014

A plea for the future of Samarra

Dear Colleagues, 

Iraq is a very strong country. Her cultures need to be preserved for future Iraqi generations. They need to be preserved for the sake of all humanity, discoveries still to be made, and future stories to be told. Three years ago, in 2011, my colleague Rachael Woody and I were allowed to attend the meeting of the Ernst Herzfeld Society in Berlin. We reported on the first results of an ongoing collaborative digitization project of the Samarra records. I was very proud to have had the opportunity to meet everyone and speak among such a group of distinguished and learned scholars. 

Even though Iraqi colleagues were not present, it is my strong wish that this will happen at future events. All of us will study this world cultural heritage site together.  I remember listening to Arzu Terzi’s report on the remarkable discoveries made in the archival materials in Istanbul, the overview of the impressive work conducted by the team of Alastair Northedge, and our wish, to repeat such meetings. A wonderful exhibition was curated by our colleagues Julia Gonnella and Stefan Weber in Berlin. The Samarra Finds Project Blog is so masterfully maintained by Mariam Rosser-Owen and Rosalind Wade Haddon. Matt Saba has finished his dissertation. The recently published volume on the history of the people of Samarra, edited by Julia Gonnella, Rania Abdellatif and Simone Struth included the long overdue report by Jens Kroeger on the history of the excavations. It contained Alastair’s recommendations for the future for the safeguarding we need to make sure that the past is protected for a strong Iraq. 

It is important to show strength and solidarity. It is our responsibility to help our Iraqi colleagues to make sure there will be a Samarra to be studied by future generations in Iraq. I condemn the military destruction and the destabilization of the political infrastructure. I condemn looting. I condemn the illicit trade in antiquities. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your continued attention to the future of Samarra.

Dr. Alexander Nagel

Disclaimer: Please note that these are my own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any institutions for which I work.

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