Babylon's First Female Architect
In 2019 World Monuments Fund welcomed twenty-four year old architect Ghadeer Ghaleb to the Ishtar Gate conservation effort. A recent graduate of Babylon University in al-Hillah, Ghaleb is the first female architect to work at the site.
In the next stages of the Ishtar Gate conservation project, Ghaleeb will assist the site architect and engineer with detailing technical specifications for tendering packages to contractors bidding on the new retaining walls, sub-grade drainage network and central walkway through the monument—all part of its new presentation. Specifically, her efforts are on the AutoCAD drawings and 3DMax illustrations that define how to fabricate the vertical wall gabions, a kind of cage-like building block system to be filled with crushed stone or brick, handrails, stair steps and other elements. As our masonry technicians complete repairs, Ghaleeb also records their work into the SBAH Babylon Documentation Work Group’s base architectural drawings from 2014, as a complement to the conditions mapping that was done before WMF started conservation. On site we anticipate Ghaleeb can help manage processes and act as a WMF project liaison with the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) archaeologist attached to the project.
Originally from Nasiriyah, Ghaleeb first came in contact with historic preservation at Ur, another important archaeological site, where she had short-term SBAH work. She moved to al-Hillah, her mother’s hometown, married, started five years of architecture studies, and then had her daughter Mariam. She finished her studies last year, graduating with excellence. Ghaleeb says she was attracted to working with World Monuments Fund because of a love for Iraq’s history and the opportunity to learn how to maintain the site from an international perspective. Unlike her university classmates, she was more interested in historic architecture rather than new construction. Economic conditions mean many with college education and ambition prefer to leave the country, but she understands that Iraq needs talented people and there are too few. That creates opportunities for those who stay, she adds, especially if they are willing to invest in themselves. That kind of positive spirit will be what revitalizes Iraq, and WMF hopes the Ishtar Gate conservation project can play an important role for Ghaleeb and the other young people working with the Future of Babylon project.