BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Archaeologists in Iraq have begun working to protect and restore parts of ancient Babylon for the first time since the 2003 U.S. invasion, officials said.
The World Monuments Fund, working with Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, has created a conservation proposal to halt any further deterioration of Babylon's mud-brick ruins, The New York Times reported.
In November, the U.S. State Department announced a $2 million grant to start efforts to preserve the site's best-surviving ruins.
The aim of these efforts is to prepare the site and other ruins for what Iraqi officials hope will someday be a flood of scientists, scholars and tourists that could contribute to Iraq's economic revival.
The work at Babylon is most ambitious, a demonstration of the ancient city's fame and its significance for Iraq's modern political and cultural heritage.
"This is one of the great projects we have, and it is the first," Qais Hussein Rashid, director of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, said of the work at Babylon. "We want to have it as a model for all the other sites."