In December 2014, soon after the military occupation by ISIS, a joint Iraqi-Italian project involving the present team started recording, evaluating, and monitoring through satellite-based remote sensing the damage and destruction inflicted on a series of crucially sensitive archaeological contexts in northern Iraq, in particular at Nineveh and Mosul.
The organisations supporting this work, financially and otherwise, as part of a wider international effort of observation anddocumentation, were the Ministry of Cultural Heritage (MIBAC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Italy, along with the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) in Iraq.
Well-informed reports appeared during the course of the project on the website of the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR) and other accounts were published by Monuments of Mosul in Danger (Oriental Institute of Prague; http://www.monumentsofmosul.com) and by Gatesofnineveh, authored by C. Jones (http://gatesofnineveh.wordpress.com).
The generosity and support of all these organisations were greatly appreciated by the project team and their associated institutions, as was help provided by ALIPH Foundation (the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas).
The initial two years of remote monitoring were followed in November 2018 and February 2020 by a drone-based survey and fieldwork of archaeologically sensitive sites and monuments at Nineveh.
The Iraqi-Italian team also carried out a systematic inspection of the entire circuit of the great defensive walls built by Sennacherib in the early 7th century BC, using field-walking and drone-based observation and recording. Together with visits to other locations within the enormous Neo-Assyrian compound this culminated in a first assessment of the results from satellite remote sensing and drone-based aerial survey, including a new topographic map of the ancient city along with its defensive and hydraulic systems, and listing of damage or destruction of varying severity in hundreds of individual locations.
This first experience was extremely formative, allowing us to set up the Iraqi-Italian team, a methodology aimed to map damage at best in association with mutual knowledge transfer between our team and our Iraqi archaeologist colleagues. Furthermore we developed a dissemination pattern based on publishing the outcomes on international scientific journal (Antiquity), on general public magazine (Archeo) and open data publication (Zenodo).