A crater made by an airstrike against ISIS militants is pictured in Mosul,
Iraq, on Feb. 3, 2017. Credit: Ahmed Saad/Reuters
The city of Mosul is intertwined with human history, tracing its roots to 4,400 years ago when civilization rose in fabled, fertile Mesopotamia.
The long-term needs of preserving Iraq's ancient history are many. They start with securing and monitoring sites, drawing up an inventory of items that are safe or missing, restoring and digitizing manuscripts — a task that is dozens of years in the making, and with a bill to match.
But culture embodies universal values, and there is a deep well of goodwill for this venture.
"Culture implies more than just monuments and stones — culture defines who we are," says Unesco chief Irina Bokova.
That's a point of view shared by Najeeb Michaeel, an Iraqi Dominican monk who saved hundreds of manuscripts from the 13th to 18th century, spiriting them to safety in Kurdistan just before ISIS began its destructive grip on the plain of Nineveh.
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