Until the 1990s, the reed marshes of Iraq were Eurasia's most extensive wetlands, with a unique ecology that supported the Marsh Arabs' distinctive way of life. Then the marshes were drained and the people scattered. Azzam of Alwash, the emigré son of an Iraqi hydrologist, now works with international aid groups and Iraqi authorities to restore the desiccated marshlands. Reeds are sprouting, birds and fish are returning-and so are people. "A 7000-year-old culture doesn't die in a decade, he says.