Smithsonian looks to preserve artifacts a world away

Protecting Artifacts. New program to protect and preserve ancient artifacts in Iraq and Syria.

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) - It was more than two years ago that videos first spread online of ISIS fighters destroying priceless pieces of history in a Mosul museum, much to the disgust of history loves across the globe. But less attention has been given to those who are fighting back, looking to protect and preserve those artifacts. 

"Culture is what they're attacking," said Richard Kurin, a Provost for the Smithsonian Institute. 

Kurin said the Smithsonian has been on the front lines, training locals in how to protect these artifacts. Hundreds of Iraqis and Syrians have already been trained in preserving and protecting these artifacts, and literature has been distributed to soldiers as well, so as to mitigate any damage. 

"You're horrified," said Kurin, in reference to the ISIS videos. "These are things in the museum world, we work our careers to save and preserve. And to see someone take a sledge hammer to 5,000 years of human history - not just Iraqi history... They're destroying a piece of who we are."

If objects are too large to move, Kurin said they are using 3D imaging to make virtual copies. 

"Because then if ISIS blows it up," he said. "Or it falls victim to an Assad barrel bomb, we have a record - a historical record of what human beings, and what culture created at that time."

Currently the Smithsonian is partnering with the State Department to begin a new $400,000 project in Nimrud, Iraq to preserve and protect the artifacts in that area. That city was just liberated from ISIS in November.

The program is meant for more than just war zones. The program started in 2010 to save artifacts in Haiti following a devastating earthquake. Similar work has been done in Mali and Nepal. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment