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Islamic State advance halts archaeological research in Iraqi Kurdistan

Advances by Islamic State (IS) forces have threatened one of the last safe regions of Mesopotamia still open to archaeologists by driving up the risks of working in Iraqi Kurdistan, it is feared. This month, a team of Italian archaeologists left their excavation site in Irbil, heading overland to Turkey.

Archaeological research in key sites in the region has been badly hit by war in Iraq and subsequently Syria. There are new risks in Lebanon, while disputes over artefacts have added to permit difficulties in Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan had drawn archaeologists as a result, but interest is also growing in the safer central Asian countries of Turkmenistan and Georgia, experts say.

Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, an expert on Assyrian archeology at the University of Udine, was leading a ten-strong Italian team near Irbil in August. The security situation was “quite normal”, he said, but rapidly deteriorated with the IS advance. After US air strikes began, the team left overground for Diyarbakir, Turkey. A German archeological team remains in the area, and Bonacossi plans to return in January. But university teams, including some from the US, cancelled planned trips in August.

Read entire article at The Art Newspaper