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New museum spaces & education resources for children in Iraqi Kurdistan

Updated: Oct 5

New museum spaces and educational resources were officially launched today (5 September 2019) in Slemani and in Kalar, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Are you an Archaeologist? Museum of Garmian Civilisation, Kalar

Museums and schools will use these new resources to help children learn about the archaeology and history of the region, and explore their cultural heritage and identity. The majority of museum visitors in Iraqi Kurdistan are schoolchildren but, with decades of armed conflict and economic crises, museums have not been able to adapt to the needs of their young visitors.

INHERIT worked with the Directorate of Antiquities of Slemani Governate, the Slemani Museum and the Garmian Civilizations Museum in Kalar, and with an international team led by Dr Claudia Glatz of the University of Glasgow, to create the resources.

This initiative is part of a wider project – Archaeological Practice and Heritage Protection in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq – led by the University of Glasgow and funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Kamal Rasheed, the Director of Antiquities of Slemani Governate said:

This project is of immense importance for Kurdistan, because it involves everyone in the archaeology and history of this region and sets an example for future work. Among many other important activities and outcomes, this project has created the first ever museum space in Iraq that is dedicated exclusively to the education and enjoyment of our children.

INHERIT's Aphrodite Sorotou, said:

Encouraging stewardship from the youngest school child to the oldest members of rural village communities, the project hopes to inspire a type of heritage management and protection that contributes to sustainable development. It tries to demonstrate that heritage is a right that we ought to respect and be inspired by, for our present and future. ”

Dr Claudia Glatz of the University of Glasgow explained that:

The purpose of the new museum spaces and educational resources is to help widen access to, and the enjoyment of, the rich and diverse archaeological heritage and history of Iraq and the wider region. The new museum spaces and educational resources are also designed to communicate the importance and need of protection for the region’s archaeological sites and cultural heritage.”

Slemani Museum Kids – the new space at Slemani Museum – provides young visitors, their parents and teachers with a fun and active experience. The space has been designed to complement the school curriculum. It brings the landscapes of the western Zagros mountains into the museum. In this setting, children explore archaeological sites, ancient artefacts and their production and uses. They learn about archaeological methods and concepts, and the passage of time. They engage with interpretations of the past and with historical narratives through play, story-telling and enactment. A quiet space allows children to practice ancient crafts such as pottery making and cuneiform writing, while a state-of-the art interactive touch screen provides more structured instruction for older students.

The new space in the Garmian Civilizations Museum in Kalar, is called ‘Are you an archaeologist?’ It focuses on the practice of archaeology, using the example of the Sirwan Regional Project, which is co-directed by Dr Glatz. A trilingual exhibition, aimed at visitors of all ages, demonstrates the richness and importance of the largely-unexplored archaeological sites of the region. It looks at how archaeologists investigate these sites and landscapes, and at how plausible archaeological stories are constructed from archaeological finds. The exhibition encourages visitors to reflect on protection of the region’s unique heritage, and on preventing the loss of the meaningful stories that it can tell us about the past.

Three themed educational boxes have also been created for schools. The boxes and their multi-sensory contents are designed for use in classroom teaching. They help children to comprehend historical narratives, technological and social changes through time, and social interactions like those associated with communal eating. The boxes can also be used to encourage children to explore questions of cultural identity and heritage through play and discussion.

The contents include ceramic and stone replicas of ancient pottery, cuneiform tablets and seals, as well as charred grains and bones like those found on archaeological sites. They also include illustrated information booklets in Kurdish, Arabic and English, and games and fun activities that allow children who are unable to visit the museums to travel through time and get a sense of what life might have been like thousands of years ago where they live.

Schools will be able to borrow these boxes from Slemani Museum and the Garmian Civilizations Museum in Kalar from September 2019.

Further information about the project, the new museum spaces and the educational resources can be found on the project website (https://culturalheritageprotection.org/).

Copies of the educational booklets are available to download from the website.

The Institute for Heritage and Sustainable Human Development

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