2021 - 2023 | Antiquities Coalition | $1 million

Known as the Cradle of Civilization, Iraq is the birthplace of some of humanity’s most ancient stories. USAID supports the preservation of cultural heritage to often marginalized religious and ethno-religious minorities in Iraq.

Project Snapshot

  • Partners: Antiquities Coalition (Prime Implementer) in partnership with the Catholic Dioceses of Mosul’s Centre Numérique des Manuscrits Orientaux (CNMO), the Syriac Heritage Museum, and Yazda.
  • Project Duration: May 2021 – May 2023
  • Total estimated Assistance: $1 million
  • Locations: Erbil, Dohuk, and Sinjar


The ruthless campaigns led by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to destroy cultural artifacts and sites in northern Iraq between 2014 to 2018, seeking to erase Iraq’s rich cultural and religious history and diversity, sent shockwaves across the globe. ISIS destroyed worship sites, including churches, mosques, shrines, and tombs, as well as museums and libraries. With minority communities increasingly fragmented due to persecution, documenting their traditions digitally is crucial to preserving their heritage, rebuilding intercommunal understanding, and fostering communal healing and stability.


USAID works with the Antiquities Coalition to train and equip local partners in documenting and digitizing heritage artifacts and activities, creating and organizing digital records, and data management. Digital documentation will preserve invaluable pieces of tangible and intangible cultural heritage while making them more accessible to local, regional, and international audiences. Furthermore, making these digitized antiquities accessible through online platforms can also facilitate identifying and repatriating missing objects.

Key Results 

  • With the support of USAID, the Antiquities Coalition has digitized over 3,200 manuscripts, covering more than 800 years of history in northern Iraq.
  • Over 3,200 manuscripts digitized, covering more than 800 years of history in northern Iraq.
  • Three videos of historical site documentation and eight videos of oral heritage, religious exercises, and stories recorded to preserve and present the cultural heritage of Yezidis in Iraq.
  •  Launching of the Ray of the Sun Program, an educational project to preserve Yezidi cultural heritage, in Sinjar, the historical homeland of the Yezidis.
  • Three local civil society organizations (Yazda, Syriac Heritage Museum, and CNMO) trained on techniques of cultural preservation to establish local capacities that are led by ethnic and religious minorities targeted by ISIS.
Archbishop Najeeb Michaeel works with his team at the CNMO on proper conservation techniques for an ancient manuscript as part of the USAID-funded activity.
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