Thanks to the work of Professor Roger Matthews, the rich cultural heritage of Iraq – the world’s cradle of civilisation – is being helped with the protection it needs to survive.

Under the remit of the Central Zagros Archaeological Project (CZAP), along with Dr Wendy Matthews, Roger Matthews works on the ground in Iraq, enhancing skills in heritage protection among Iraqi antiquities staff. Their world-leading research into early agriculture and ancient village life in the Fertile Crescent has led to local and global public engagement, with plans underway to redevelop the Iraq Prehistory Gallery in Slemani Museum, the only fully functioning museum of its kind in Iraq. There are also plans for a site visitor centre at Bestansur, which was recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List following its nomination by the Iraq government. The importance of Bestansur is due to its elaborate architecture, and artefacts that attest networks of more than 1500km, and its early date – the earliest village in Iraqi Kurdistan at 7700 BC.

As President of RASHID International, a multinational group of academics, professionals and individuals set up to promote and protect Iraq’s heritage, Roger Matthews is involved in high-level engagement with officials in the Iraq government, internationally and at the United Nations, and liaises often with the global media. In this role he is co-organising major workshops and conferences, as well as contributing knowledge and expertise to the UN Human Rights Council in particular with regard to cultural rights in Iraq. He has also worked with military planners to address threats to Iraqi sites and co-authored a UN report on the destruction of Mosul’s heritage.


Shortlisted for the University Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2017

First published: June 2017