Friday 11 January 2013

From Kurdistan to Cambridge

In Kurdistan for BISI last May, I met local archaeologist Saber Ahmed Saber, who was helping colleagues from UCL choose a new site or two for excavation. Here he is with Rob Carter of UCL Qatar, identifying potsherds near a site called Gurga Chiya.

We encouraged him to apply for a BISI Visiting Scholarship to the UK, and I'm delighted to report that he arrived at Heathrow just over a week ago. Saber will be spending most of his two-month stay working with Mark Altaweel at UCL, writing up his excavations in the Sulaimaniyah region of southern Kurdistan.

But the first weekend after his arrival happened to be the date of this year's BANEA conference, which also happened to be here in Cambridge. So Mark and Lamia brought him to Friday's session: here we all are on the river after lunch (l-r: me, Mark, Harriet Crawford, Saber, Lamia Al-Gailani).

It was a delight to welcome him here, and I hope he and Mark have a very productive few months together. It's also my pleasure to thank everyone who's made the visit happen: BISI people Lauren Mulvee and Joan MacIver; Lamia Al-Gailani, Edward Chaplin, and Harriet Crawford; Barbara Porter and her staff at ACOR who hosted Saber in Amman while waiting for his visa; the staff of the British Embassies in Baghdad and Amman; Kate Carter, Saber's host in London; all at UCL; Augusta MacMahon and Nicholas Postgate at BANEA Cambridge; and, just as importantly, Kamal Rashid of the Sulaimaniyah Antiquities Directorate for granting Saber leave to take up the fellowship.

The next application deadline for BISI Visiting Scholarships is on 1 February: details are on the super-gorgeous new BISI website. If you know of an Iraqi cultural heritage professional or academic who would benefit from a period of collaborative research leave in the UK, with the option of a further month in Germany funded by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, do encourage them to apply.

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