Archaeologists from the University of Manchester have been working in Iraq and making "significant discoveries", while Islamic State militants have been bulldozing historic Assyrian sites.
"If the militants think they can erase history we are helping to make sure that can't happen," said archaeologist Jane Moon.
They have been excavating a Babylonian administrative centre from 1500BC.
It has provided more than 300 artefacts for the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.
The Manchester archaeologists, believed to be on one of only two international teams operating in non-Kurdish Iraq, have returned to the UK after three months of fieldwork, near to the ancient city of Ur.
While the Manchester team were working with Iraqi archaeologists to recover their finds, the Islamic State were attacking and bulldozing ancient sites in Nineveh, Nimrod and Hatra.
They are also believed to have smashed objects in museums in Mosul.
There are clay tablets with "practice texts" of lists of animals and precious stones.
"Everyone is quite rightly expressing outrage at the destruction in and around Mosul. The sad fact is, there is very little one can do to prevent deliberate vandalism by well-armed fanatics," said Dr Moon.
But even if objects were destroyed, Dr Moon said, it was still important to be able to gather and retain information for the future.