Beginning in 2012, World Monuments Fund launched a training program in Erbil in the Kurdish region of Iraq. This initiative allowed WMF and course participants to immerse themselves in discovering the treasures of Kurdistan, a diverse landscape filled with historic sites, influenced by the many groups that have left their mark throughout history.
Today, as the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Erbil Citadel remains very much a living city. Decades of civil unrest however, have taken their toll on the ancient Citadel buildings, many of which lack electricity and proper drainage and sanitation systems.
WMF included Erbil Citadel on the 2000, 2002, & 2004 World Monuments Watch in an effort to provide conservation and technical assistance, critical to the future of the city as a whole.
In 2014, the Erbil Citadel became a World Heritage Site, following the first systematic archaeological excavations on the site in 2013.
Recent developments in Iraq bring with them an opportunity through which conservation work and repair of the citadel might begin. However, funds and technical assistance are critical to the future of the city of Erbil as a whole.
The cliff is decorated with reliefs of the king, deities, animals, mythical figures, and cuneiform inscriptions celebrating Assyrian King Sennacherib’s achievements, describing the politics and ideology of the Assyrian Empire.
In addition, the Khinnis reliefs represent Sennacherib’s accomplishments in agriculture, engineering, land management, and economic systems.
The use of the site, including the quarries and reliefs, in late antiquity indicate its importance throughout the centuries. Today the reliefs are threatened by encroaching development, and in need of more comprehensive heritage management planning, also requiring conservation work, as the stone surfaces suffer from exfoliation and staining caused by water runoff and the quality of the limestone.