Today at the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Jonathan Cohen and Dr. Ahmed Kamil Murad, Acting General Director of the Office of Museums at the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) announced the funding of a project for the rehabilitation and preservation of the Ishtar Gate at the remains of the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq. The U.S. Embassy grant of $530,000 to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) will support conservation work by a team of Iraqi preservationists from the SBAH under the guidance of international heritage experts from WMF. The grant is part of the ongoing cultural partnership between the United States and Iraq in support of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.
The rehabilitation of the Ishtar Gate is the most recent cooperative venture of the Future of Babylon project – a partnership from 2009 between the Governments of Iraq and the United States and WMF to support Iraqi efforts to assess, document, and preserve the ancient city located south of Baghdad. Since 2009, the Department of State has contributed more than $4 million to the Future of Babylon. With U.S. support, much of the site has been assessed and documented, emergency stabilization work has been undertaken, and completed a site management plan .
The Ishtar Gate has stood at the entrance to the ancient city since approximately 575 B.C. when it was constructed under King Nebuchadnezzar II. The remaining parts of the structure are in dire need of conservation to stop further deterioration and to correct modern-era modifications that hasten damage to the monument and that are not historically accurate. Work is expected to be completed in 2017.