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Investigations into the division of the archaeological finds from the German excavations (1912–1939) in Uruk (Warka, Iraq) and the acquisition of those now held by the Vorderasiatisches Museum

This research project, led by Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert, will examine all the documents which shed light on how the archaeological finds from Uruk (Warka, Iraq) were divided between Germany and Iraq, and the circumstances of their acquisition by the Vorderasiatisches Museum (VAM) in Berlin between 1912 and 1939.

The documents will be studied, digitalised and indexed according to their content. At the same time, the project will also actively support the reconstruction of archives relating to the division of the finds in the Iraqi Museum of Baghdad, thus creating a basis on which, for the first time since 2003, research historians in Iraq will be able to study the German archaeological excavations in Uruk (Warka), the agreements reached at the time about the sharing of finds and the export of items of archaeological cultural heritage from Uruk (Warka) to Germany which took place on the basis of these agreements. By carrying out a comprehensive collation, appraisal and publication of the share-agreement documentation, it is hoped that the cultural, partnership-based dialogue between Germany and Iraq in the areas of ancient historical research and cooperation between museums can be improved and a foundation laid for all future cooperation in these areas.

The results of the provenience research into the archaeological objects from Iraq, which have belonged to the collections of the Vorderasiatisches Museum since the beginning of the 20th century, should also establish transparency in regard to the acquisition practices of the museum in the first half of the 20th century, a particular cultural-political desideratum, especially given the institution’s international connections. The research project is financed by funds from the German Foreign Office.

Project Director: Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert
Funding / Project partner: Auswärtige Amt