Cataloging the Cradle of Civilization





The first known depiction of a human face in stone . . . A vase documenting the daily tasks that defined activity as people built a future in the Fertile Crescent . . . Towering walls that heralded the end of rootless wanderings and the beginning of urban society . . . They have all come from sites in what we now call Iraq, and they are irreplaceable evidence of our species' cultural evolution.

The locations--Uruk and Ur--that gave birth to these treasures are in peril. The cradle of civilization lies largely unguarded. The winds of war, progress, and time threaten to erase the sites and the knowledge they hold, leaving only traces and tales.

To prevent this loss is the mission of the World Monument Fund's two-year project to catalog the cultural resources of Iraq. The ambitious undertaking is under the direction of Gaetano Palumbo, director of Archaeological Conservation for WMF Europe. In cooperation with the Getty Conservation Institute and in coordination with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Palumbo is developing a program with Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage to collect information about the country's cultural resources in order to document and assess the status of archaeological sites and historic urban centers.


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