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NEH Awards First Grants to Preserve Iraq's Cultural Heritage

Six institutions receive $559,000 in endowment's initiative, "Recovering Iraq's Past"

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 8, 2004) -- The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced the first awards under the agency's special initiative, "Recovering Iraq's Past." Six grants totaling $559,000 will support projects to preserve and document Iraq's cultural resources and to develop education and training opportunities for Iraq's librarians, archivists, and preservation specialists.

"With these awards, American humanities scholars and institutions, working in close partnership with their Iraqi colleagues, will make significant contributions to preserving Iraq's cultural heritage for generations to come," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole.

NEH's "Recovering Iraq's Past" contributes to coordinated efforts by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other federal agencies to assist in rebuilding the cultural heritage infrastructure in Iraq. Projects funded under the initiative focus on the preservation and documentation of resources, which, because of their intellectual content and value as cultural artifacts, are considered highly important for research, education, and public programming in the humanities.

The following institutions received grants as part of the Endowment's "Recovering Iraq's Past" initiative:

  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., received $97,000 for the creation of a preservation tutorial in Arabic on the treatment and care of books, manuscripts, image and recorded sound collections, papyrus, and clay tablets that would be made available on the Internet and as a CD-ROM for distribution in Iraq;
  • The Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, received $65,510 for a conservation assessment of first millennium B.C.E. Neo-Assyrian palaces and related structures at Nineveh and Nimrud, Iraq;
  • Simmons College, Boston, Mass., received $100,000 for an education and training program that will enhance the professional knowledge and skills of up to 25 Iraqi librarians and archivists;
  • The University of California, Berkeley, received $99,357 for the preparation of an online catalog of 5,000 cuneiform lexical texts (similar to modern dictionaries) housed at the National Museum in Iraq. The cataloging records with images of the tablets, transcriptions, and annotations will be incorporated into a large database of cuneiform materials, the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI);
  • The University of California, Los Angeles, received $96,588 for the development of an online catalog of cuneiform tablets at the Iraq National Museum that documents Mesopotamian civilization from 3300 B.C.E. until 100 C.E. The records will be available in a separate Web site at the museum and through the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative created by UCLA in 2000; and
  • The World Monuments Fund, New York, N.Y., received $100,000 for a cultural heritage inventory of Iraqi archaeological and historic sites that will include an integrated database, a Geographic Information System (GIS), and a Geographic Positioning System (GPS) for documenting site information and locations.

Additional information about NEH's special initiative on Iraq's cultural heritage is available online.

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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