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NEH Announces Iraq Initiative

Up to $500,000 for preservation, documentation of cultural heritage

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2003 -- The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced a special initiative, "Recovering Iraq's Past," to support projects that would preserve and document cultural resources in Iraq's archives, libraries, and museums. Projects funded under this initiative also would disseminate information relating to the materials and bibliographic records of civilization in Iraq from the earliest times to the present.

With this initiative, NEH joins the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other federal agencies in an effort to assist in rebuilding the cultural heritage infrastructure in Iraq.

"America is committed to preserving the cultural legacy of the Iraqi region, widely considered a birthplace of civilization," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "As President George W. Bush said following the liberation of Iraq, 'America now pledges to help Iraqis build a prosperous and peaceful nation.' This NEH initiative offers the Iraqi people the skills and knowledge of America's premiere humanities institutions and scholars. Working together, they can restore and revitalize Iraq's rich history and establish a solid foundation for valuable humanities scholarship, education, and public programming for generations to come."

The Endowment will award up to $500,000 in grants to support the following types of projects:

  • stabilization, conservation, or preservation of public cultural collections in Iraq;
  • preparation of inventories or catalogs of collections in Iraq;
  • digitization of records or objects relating to Iraq's cultural heritage located in Iraqi or U.S. institutions;
  • preservation surveys or assessments of humanities resources, historic sites, and archaeological sites in Iraq; and
  • preservation education and training for Iraqi nationals in Iraq.

NEH expects grants to range from $30,000 to $100,000 to support projects of up to two years in duration. This NEH initiative continues the Endowment's longstanding history of support for humanities scholarship to advance knowledge and understanding of Mesopotamia, the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq. Since FY 1980, NEH has awarded $12.6 million for 130 projects on topics primarily related to this region.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Office of Communications at (202) 606-8446 or info@neh.gov