The Trustees of the Friends of Basrah Museum (FOBM) were deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of their fellow Trustee Dr Lamia Al Gailani Werr.
Lamia died last Friday 18 January 2019 in Amman, Jordan and has been buried in Baghdad on 21 January.
There was a special procession from the Iraq Museum to the Gailani shrine, where she has been laid to rest. Many dignataries were there for the funeral ceremony, including HE Dr Abdulamir Al Hamdani, Minister of Culture, HE Qais Al Rasheed, Chairman of the State Board of Antiquites and Heritage, Maysoon Damluji MP, Mr Qahtan Al Abeed and HMA Jon Wilks CMG, UK Ambassador to Iraq. We also wish we could have been there with them all.
Our deepest condolences to her daughters, family, friends and colleagues.
Photos provided with kind permission from Mr Qahtan Al Abeed
The FOBM and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI) and many colleagues world-wide and in Iraq relied upon her fountain of wisdom and profound knowledge of Iraq and Mesopotamian archaeology and in particular of cylinder seals. She shared her knowledge unstintingly with kindness and good humour. In 2010 she became a Trustee of the Friends of Basrah Museum with Sir Terence Clark and Dr John Curtis and other founding Trustees and had been working tirelessly on that project before and since that time. The Basrah Museum opened in September 2016 with one gallery and a two-day BISI international conference followed. She was active at the museum opening and the conference. When the Trustees were subsequently awarded a large Cultural Protection Fund (CPF) grant in 2016 to further the project, she continued to work tirelessly with many visits to the Iraq Museum particularly on the selection of objects for the remaining Basrah Museum galleries. Lamia participated in two FOBM training programmes for the Basrah Museum staff and volunteers in January and December 2018 along with her daughter Dr Noorah Al Gailani.
She worked closely with Qahtan Al Abeed, Director of Basrah Antiquities and Heritage, and with the Qais Al Rasheed, Chairman of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, and the Iraq Museum staff. She was very pleased recently to work with Mrs Lumah Al Douri, the new Iraq Museum Director.
The following photos show her at the opening of the Basrah Museum with some of the participants in the conference; presenting her talk on the History of the Iraq Museum in January 2018 at the Basrah Museum Training Programme; presenting an award in the first training programme to Siham Giwad Dadhun, Director of the Maisan Museum, with Mahdi Al Musawi, Qahtan Alabeed, Dr Paul Collins (BISI Chair and lead trainer) and Joan Porter MacIver looking on.
Dr Lamia al-Gailani-Werr grew up in Baghdad and studied at the University of Baghdad before coming to Cambridge on a Scholarship. She returned to Baghdad and work at the Museum in 1961 as one of the small number of women archaeologists. She later completed a second MA degree at the University of Edinburgh and her PhD at the University of London. In 2003 she returned to Baghdad after the looting of the Museum to assist Iraqi colleagues. She was an Honorary Research Associate of the Institute of Archaeology UCL. She has been working on a book on the History of the Iraq Museum and had been a research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum. Amongst her very many research topics, she had been working on Gertrude Bell archives in the museum and was a special advisor to the Co-directors of the film Letters from Baghdad which screened in Baghdad last year.
She was the British Institute for the Study of Iraq’s only Honorary Life-time member and recipient of its Gertrude Bell Memorial Gold Medal "for outstanding services to Mesopotamian archaeology" in 2009. She provided unceasing efforts and invaluable advice and energies in sustaining academic and personal links between scholars in the UK and Iraq. Her continuing input into the BSAI/BISI's highly active Visiting Scholars programme, currently linked to the Nahrein Network, has been fundamental to its great success, providing training and experience to a broad range of Iraqi colleagues who have taken their enhanced skills back to Iraq. She cared deeply for her Iraqi colleagues and Iraq and its heritage. She will be greatly missed.