British Institute for the Study of Iraq

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The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI) (formerly the British School of Archaeology in Iraq) is the only body in Britain devoted to research into the ancient civilizations and languages of Mesopotamia.

It is a registered charity[1] and has its headquarters in the office of the British Academy at Carlton House Terrace in London.

The School was founded in 1932 as a memorial to the life and works of Gertrude Bell. Its aims are to encourage, support and undertake research into the archaeology (and cognate subjects) of Iraq, and the neighbouring countries, from the earliest times to c. AD 1700.

Since 1934, the School has published a refereed journal, Iraq, which is now published annually, in November/December of each year.

The School carried out excavations in Iraq before the Second World War. Activities resumed in 1948, and the School worked continuously from then until 1990. Since then the School has been prevented by political circumstances from resuming its research activities. However, friendly relations with the Iraqi Department of Antiquities and contact with Iraqi colleagues have been maintained, mainly through private visits.

In the aftermath of 2003 invasion of Iraq, the school devoted its resources to assisting in the rebuilding of Iraq’s heritage.

The School is funded by a grant from the British Government; it also receives an income from private sources. It currently has about 650 subscribing members. It is governed by a Council, which meets in London and is elected annually by the members, under Regulations approved by the original members in 1932 but recently revised.

On 12 December 2007 the organization's name was changed to The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial).

Assyrian ivories[edit]

In 2011 the BISI sold one third of its collection of Nimrud Ivories, discovered between 1949 and 1963 in excavations led by Sir Max Mallowan, to the British Museum for £1.17million.[2] Another third was donated to the British Museum in recognition of the storage of the collection by the museum over the previous 24 years. It is anticipated that the remaining third of the collection will be returned to Iraq sometime in the future.[3][4] A selection of the ivories was put on display at the British Museum in 2011.[4]

List of directors[edit]


  1. ^ Charity Commission. British Institute for the Study of Iraq, registered charity no. 1135395. 
  2. ^ Christie ivories to go on show at British Museum
  3. ^ "Nimrud Ivories". Art Fund. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  4. ^ a b "Christie ivories to go on show at British Museum". BBC Online. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  5. ^ Dabrowska, Karen (2004). "British School of Archaeology in Iraq - A new organisation for a new era" (pdf). Islamic Tourism. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "(John) Nicholas POSTGATE". People of Today. Debrett's. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "Professor Roger Matthews". Staff Profile. University of Reading. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 

External links[edit]