In Iraq's Babylon, age-old building techniques heal climate scars


Nazih Osseiran


What’s the context?

As climate change erodes Iraq's ancient monuments, age-old techniques are helping repair the damage

  • Climate change raises salt levels around ancient Babylon
  • Salinity corrodes ruins of humanity's oldest monuments
  • Archaeologist laments lack of government funding

At the temple of Ninmakh, the Sumerian mother goddess, Iraqi archaeologists are using 7,000-year-old techniques to protect the monument, and the rest of the ancient city of Babylon, from salt seeping into its heart and destroying it from within.


Problems such as salt intrusion, extreme temperatures, flooding and soil erosion linked in part to climate change are threatening heritage sites in Iraq and around the world, from indigenous rock art in Australia to Bangladesh's 15th century "Mosque City".


That accelerated the erosion of the mudbricks and the numerous engravings that once adorned the walls next to the Ishtar Gate, a colossal structure that towered over Babylon's main thoroughfare.


Many of Iraq's other ancient sites are also feeling the effects of worsening drought.


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