the duhok national museum in kurdistan, iraq


It is not every day that one gets the opportunity to visit a museum that is less than six months old. Visiting the National Museum in Dohuk was such an experience. I would venture to guess that this blog post is one of the first, if not the first, to talk about it.

The city of Dohuk, with a population of approximately 900,000, is the capital of the Duhok Governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan. The famous Tigris river flows nearby, and the city is nestled in a valley, making for a picturesque panorama of mountains. Duhok’s nascent tourist industry was one element that led to the opening in November 2013 of the National Museum.

The museum’s collection consists of some three thousand artifacts although the museum’s current facility displays only about one thousand of those. Plans are currently underway for a move to a new location with a park and a much larger exhibit space.

The artifacts in the collection were all found in the Dohuk region and unearthed by Kurdish archaeologists, and the oldest date back to the seventh millennium BCE. These artifacts include Roman coins, cuneiform texts, pottery, stone vases and vessels, oil lamps, glass bottles, books from the middle ages & early modern period, Greek texts, neolithic statues, necklaces and other assorted jewelry.

According to an article in the Kurdish Globe in November, “One of the ancient pieces, which has been adopted as the museum’s logo, is a round stamp used by a Mitanni king who is believed to have ruled Duhok in 1500 BCE. At that time, Duhok was one of the greatest cities in the region.”

Given the scarcity of tourist to this region, it was nice to be able to speak directly with the museum’s manager and staff and participate in their excitement for the new institution. I was honored to be among the first to write in the museum’s guestbook!

The image to the left is of an artifact from the museum’s collection, a Sumerian statue dating to 2400 BCE.