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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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BU Archaeologists Partner with Iraqi University

November 9th, 2012

A team of archaeologists under the direction of BU Assistant Professor of Archaeology Michael Danti will partner with educators at Mosul University on an innovative program to revive higher education and cultural heritage management in Iraq. Centered on the study of Iraqi archaeology and culture, the new Mosul University Archaeology Program (MAP) will focus on curriculum development, design and implementation of online courses and real-time videoconferences, and cultural study programs in the US and in Iraq. The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

MAP is designed to help Iraq re-establish its tradition of excellence in higher education with particular distinction in the complementary fields of archaeology and cultural heritage management. The city of Mosul and its environs contain renowned archaeological sites, including Nineveh, Nimrud, and the Al-Hadba Minaret. Years of warfare, instability, embargoes, and isolation have hindered the growth and development of higher education in Iraq and have posed serious challenges in heritage management.

As leaders in undergraduate education in archaeology, international heritage management, and global programs, the MAP team is uniquely qualified to assist MU implement higher education revision, improve student outcomes, and link Mosul faculty to the global archaeological community. Ultimately, MAP activities will strengthen cultural cooperation and promote political, social, and economic development in Iraq consistent with the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.

“Cultural study programs and collaborative teaching will benefit scholars from both countries, providing valuable first-hand knowledge of the educational and heritage management challenges faced by each, and will lead to other collaborative agreements and follow-on activities,” says Danti. “MAP makes it possible for senior and junior Iraqi academics and students to gain access to the latest instructional materials and pedagogy.”

Ultimately, the project will promote and strengthen long-term cooperation and friendship between Iraq and the United States. MAP also will help reinforce national reconciliation and showcase the principles of democracy, diversity, and multiculturalism, which are rooted in a quality education.

Detailed planning for the project already is underway, and three online courses will be developed at BU and taught in Spring 2013 at MU and BU — Archaeology of Mesopotamia, Archaeological Method and Theory, and International Heritage Management. The lectures for these courses will be digitally recorded and translated into Arabic and Kurdish (Sorani dialect).

The project also includes the development of a MU-BU archaeological field school for teaching two capstone courses in Iraq: Archaeological Field Methods and Archaeological Analysis and Reporting. The five MAP courses comprise the core of an undergraduate program in Near Eastern archaeology.

The MAP Team

MAP will be staffed by experts in archaeological training and research, heritage management, global exchange programs, and curriculum review, design, and implementation. The team will work with MU faculty to complete a self-study at the start of the review process, and will be fully involved throughout the two-year project. The team includes the following scholars:

Michael Danti, assistant professor of archaeology at BU and project director, has been involved in archaeology as a researcher, museum professional, and educator for 25 years. He has directed archaeological excavations, tours, and surveys in Syria and Iran, and he has published widely on the ancient Near East. He serves as a professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and is actively engaged in academic advising and university governance.

Ricardo Elia, associate professor of archaeology at BU, is a prominent authority on international heritage management and has extensive experience in developing archaeological curricula for the international stage.

Grant Frame, associate professor of Near Eastern languages and civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, is an expert on ancient Mesopotamian languages and is the former director and research editor of the Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project.

William Hafford, Leon Levy Foundation Research Associate at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, is an expert in archaeological method, theory, and reporting as well as the virtualization of data sets.

Jessica Johnson, Director of Conservation Education at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Global Studies, serves as the Academic Director of the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage.

Mohammad Mughal, professor of archaeology at Boston University, is a renowned expert in international heritage management, policy, and law.

Richard Zettler, professor and chair of archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, has worked for decades in Iraq and Syria as an archaeologist and is the Curator-in-Charge of Penn Museum’s Near East Section.

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