what we do

The present research team has been established within a joint Iraqi-Italian project which started in 2014 and was aimed at monitoring through satellite-based remote sensing the damage and destruction inflicted by DAESH in northern Iraq.

In February 2020 we conducted the first damage assessment mission, funded by the Aliph foundation.

The vandalic actions by ISIS, although ruinous and dramatic, were only the last episode of decades of disrepair and neglect, in spite of the hard efforts at maintenance of SBAH. Our survey makes clear that the gradual recovery of Hatra will require large-scale practical actions and substantial investments that, in the present economic context of the Iraqi nation, might be provided only by influential international agencies.

The overall aim of the present initiative, promoted by the Italian “Associazione Internazionale di Studi sul Mediterraneo e l’Oriente” (ISMEO) in collaboration with the University of Siena and the University of Padua is to provide support to the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) in the re-establishment of proper control over the archaeological site, and making heritage available again for the local community through:

1. remote sensing assessment based on the collection and analyses of satellite imagery, historical aerial photography and drone-based aerial survey.

2. restoring and relocating on their original setting next to the entrances of the Great Iwans the large human-faced corbels and to put in secure conditions and restore a large stone royal statue in room 1 of the South Iwan both of them smashed by DAESH in 2015;

3. to carry out a pilot project on the Temple of Allat, which will establish the best methodology for stopping the ongoing decay of its floors, walls, and sculptures placed on its fa ade;

4. tidying up – a general cleaning of Hatra’s sanctuary is absolutely necessary by removing war remnants and other obtrusive refuse from the site’s premises; and cleaning the stone flooring of great part of the site from soil, moss and grass that have grown on them.

5. 3D digitalization – achieving a highly detailed 3D digital documentation of the state of the art of the site indispensable to implement in the next future conservation assessment and a comprehensive site management plan through the development of a 3D WEBGIS system. The quality, technical peculiarity and the high resolution of the digital record will also allow the implementation of virtual realty experience.

6. capacity building – transfer to the Iraqi partners of methodological and practical know-how to be applied to comparable archaeological compounds.