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Mosul archaeologist aims to reclaim her city's lost heritage

Despite occupation, displacement and war, archaeologist Layla Salih never lost hope of rebuilding the Mesopotamian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic cultural heritage of her city, Mosul.
Layla Salih, head of Antiquities for the province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, poses in front of an underground tunnel in east Mosul on March 6, 2017. 
Two winged bulls dating from the Assyrians empire were found in a labyrinth of narrow underground tunnels dug by the Islamic State group in east Mosul. The impressive maze of tunnels dug by the jihadists to carry out archaeological excavations is located in the heart of the hill that houses the tomb of the Prophet Jonah (Nabi Younes). / AFP PHO

When Layla Salih walks amid the rubble of Mosul with her quick, soft steps, she knows exactly where she wants to go. Whether in the Old City of Mosul, in Nimrod, or at a spot where some of the Mosul Museum’s antiquities were destroyed, Salih knows that rubble can often hide remnants of destroyed artifacts that can be put back together if one has the drive and patience to do so.

After graduating from the University of Mosul in 1999, Salih dived straight into archaeology. Until 2009, she worked at the Mosul Museum. In 2012, she was appointed as head of the Heritage Buildings in Antiquities Board of Ninevah province, the provincial section of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq. Meanwhile, she continued her academic studies and completed a master's degree in Islamic archaeology at Baghdad University in 2013.

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