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Mesopotamia

Assur . Banat . Barri . Tell Beydar . Bismaya . El Qitar . Emar . Tell Hassan. Khorsabad . Mureybet . Nimrud . Nineveh . Nuzi . Terqa

 

Assur (Stefan R.Hauser, 2004)

Grabungen der Freien Universität Berlin 1988 und 1989: Die nachassyrischem Schichten, Iraq

Assur, home of the likenamed god, ranks among the most famous cities of ancient Mesopotamia. As second ruin in Iraq, it was recently awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated approximately 60 miles south of modern Mossul on the western bank of the river Tigris, Assur gained importance as center for long distance trade in the early second millenium BCE. During the later second and the early first millenia BCE Assur became the capital of the Middle- and Neo-Assyrian empires. Even, after the empire's capital was moved to Nimrud and later to Nineveh, Assur remained the focus of religious activity. Its destruction in 614 BCE, during the final years of the Neo-Assyrian empire, is often considered the end of its glorious history. Nevertheless, in large scale excavations (1903-1914) the Deutsche OrientGesellschaft (in the following: DOG) unearthed temples, private quarters and tombs dating from the Arsacid period (in Mesopotamia: 141 BCE - 228 CE) throughout the city. Together with stelae of local gouvernors they attest to Assur's renewed significance in the first centuries CE.

Banat (Anne Porter, 2004)

The Banat Publication Project Volume I. Funerals and Feasts: Ritual Action and Social Structure in the Mortuary Material of Tell Banat

Excavated by Anne Porter and Thomas McClellan from 1988 until its inundation by the Tishreen dam in 1999, Banat is one of the most significant Early Bronze centers to emerge in northern Syro-Mesopotamia during the past decade. It is the mortuary data in particular that has occasioned most immediate interest from the academic community and general public alike. Of this material, two contemporaneous monumental burial structures stand out: Tell Banat North, the 20 meter high mound that consisted of at least three major phases of packed earth construction, each containing deposits of human bone and artifacts and each covered by a white terra pise surface; and the semi-subterranean, richly furnished Tomb 7, a highly elaborate building with dressed-stone interiors, baked brick and bitumen-coated floors.

Barri (Anacleto D'Agostino, 2010)

The Assyrians in the Upper Khabur valley (northeastern Syria): The Late Bronze Age-Iron Age levels of Tell Barri/Kahat'

The subject of the book concerns the analysis of the ceramics and finds from the Late Bronze Age-Iron Age levels excavated at Tell Barri, a multi-period site located in northeastern Syria. Tell Barri is a key site for the emphasis of change and continuity trends in 'material culture', and gives evidence for an occupation which continued through the period under examination. On the south-eastern slope, in Area G, the Italian expedition, between 1984 and 2002, brought to light consistent archaeological evidence datable to between the second half of 2nd millennium and the first centuries of 1st millennium (13th-7th centuries). Remains include large residential buildings and modest dwellings, tombs, and open-air spaces for household activities. These are arranged in stratified sequence and are in good state of preservation. The large assemblage of ceramics and artefacts and the stratification remain unpublished, while only very few documents have been (only partially) presented in preliminary occasional reports.

Tell Beydar (Joachim Bretschneider, 2007)

This publication focuses on the glyptic material from Tell Beydar (ancient Nabada) found during the excavation campaigns 1994-2001. The topography of the site consists of a circular city (diameter of ca. 600 metres) with a fortified perimeter with seven gates – one of the so-called Early Bronze Age Kranzhügels of North Mesopotamia. On the acropolis the monumental city centre of the Early Dynastic IIIb period (2450-2350 BC) was exposed. This large official complex comprised a palace and four temples with storage rooms and workshops, and had one main access from the south, where a monumental staircase led past the temples directly to the entrance of the palace, itself set on a raised terrace. Excavations have also revealed one of the inner city gates, a granary, various dwelling houses and parts of the city wall. One of Beydar's most surprising discoveries consisted of a considerable deposit of cuneiform tablets inscribed with a meticulous record of the palace's bookkeeping. These written documents date to around 2400 BC and they represent the largest collection of Old-Semitic texts of the Khabur area. Tell Beydar has also produced 1432 sealings and seals bearing 162 different seal designs, many of the finest quality. 1308 of these sealings can be ascribed to the final phase of the Early Dynastic official complex on the acropolis. This glyptic material is the largest corpus of Early Bronze Age sealings from North Mesopotamia that can be attributed to a single official household.

Bismaya (Karen Wilson, 2004)

Excavations at Bismaya (ancient Adab), Iraq: View Publication

The purpose of this project is to analyze, interpret, and publish the important discoveries made by a University of Chicago expedition in 1903-1905 at the site of Bismaya (ancient Adab) in what is now south-central Iraq. The excavations were first directed by Edgar J. Banks. Most of the material from Bismaya remains unknown, despite the fact that Adab was a major city at the dawn of Mesopotamian history. Banks excavated one of the earliest known Mesopotamian temples and discovered some of the world's first historical royal inscriptions, incised on stone vessels dedicated in that temple beginning as early as 2550 B.C. He also excavated an administrative center, a residential quarter, and what he described as a palace with a library, all of the Akkadian period (ca. 2335-2155 B.C.), a slightly later cemetery and residential area, and portions of the city wall. Since 1912, little attention has been paid to this material, and Bismaya has been largely forgotten. This project will rectify this situation and will result in the complete presentation of this large and significant corpus of unpublished material. The proposed monograph will include analyses of stratigraphy, architecture, sculpture, cylinder seals, metalwork, and pottery, and discussions of chronology, the succession of the first kings of Adab, administrative practices during the third millennium B.C., and methods of artistic and symbolic representation.

El Qitar (T. McClellan, 1998 & 2000)

El-Qitar/Til Abnu, A Bronze Age Fortress on the Euphrates

El Qitar is a significant site for monitoring, documenting and testing several trends in military, political and social organization during the Late Bronze Age. Changes in warfare from the preceding Middle Bronze period included the widespread use of chariotry and emergence of a military elite which, together with (sedentary) population declines, led to smaller armies and the abandonment of massive earthen rampart fortifications around major urban centers in favor of a network of smaller fortresses and forts often located to utilize rugged terrain. Also there may have been increased functional and socio-economic differentiation among settlements in the Late Bronze Age as they became integrated into larger regional polities.

Emar (Jean-Claude Margueron, 2003)

Recherches au pays d'Ashtata Emar I et II, Syria

The construction of a dam at Tabqa led to the exploration of Meskene in 1972 as part of an international campaign to salvage the antiquities doomed to disappear below the new lake. The main result of this expedition was to bring to light the ancient city of Emar, known until now only by texts which mention it at the time of Ebla (middle of the 3rd millennium) and that of Mari (at the beginning of the 2nd millennium); but the town unearthed by our excavations appears to be a new city founded by the Hittite king Suppiluliuma or Mursili II (1339-1306 B.C.), the capital of the land of Ashtata when the Hittite Empire overlaid North Syrian country. All the levels uncovered belong to the Late Bronze Age (about 1350-1187 B.C.), and the town was destroyed by fire in 1187 .

Tell Hassan (Lucia Chiocchetti, 2009)

The Prehistoric pottery from Tell Hassan and the Hamrin valley, Iraq (VI-IV millennium b.C.). A revisited approach to the Samarra-Halaf-Ubaid scenario as seen from the 1977-1979 Excavations

The study concerns the remarkable and so far unpublished pottery from the Halaf and Ubaid levels of Tell Hassan (excavated in the years 1977-1979 by the University of Turin and the Centro Scavi di Torino per il Vicino Oriente e l'Asia, directed by prof. Antonio Invernizzi.) .In accordance to its geographic position, the area revealed itself as a complex system: a sort of 'microcosm' that, though with uniquely distinctive characters, participated in the chronological and cultural evolution of Mesopotamia. In various periods, such like the Early Dynastic (ca. 2900-2350 b.C.) and Isin-Larsa (2004-1763b.C.) it had a major role in Mesopotamian history, both from a political and especially cultural point of view.

Khorsabad (Eleanor Guralnick, 2010)

Khorsabad: The Sculptures, vol. 3

This publication will present all of the known surviving Khorsabad sculptures. Together, they will represent the sculptured decorations of two major palace courtyards, at least three major palace rooms, and a number of new fragments that will enhance our knowledge of the throne room sculptural decorations, and fragments from at least two or three additional rooms from which nothing had been thought to survive. Approximately 1000 unreconstructed large sculpture fragments were assigned to Chicago in the division of finds in 1930 that have not been registered into the collection, photographed or published. The currently exhibited body of published sculptures in Chicago will be nearly doubled. Other sculptures to be published for the first time are in the British Museum and the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. The growing global interest in the Middle East and its cultural heritage places this project in a very favorable position for world-wide interest. The well publicized and enormous losses to the Iraqi cultural heritage insist that the portion of that heritage that survives in museums should be made available to the international public.

Mureybet (Juan JosE IbANez EstEvez, 2000)

Cultural Changes During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in the Middle Euphrates (Syria): the Site of Tell Mureybet

The study of the site of Tell Mureybet will shed some light on some of the most significant historical questions concerning the beginning of what V.G. Childe called the "Neolithic Revolution." The Southern Levant (Jordan and Israel) has traditionally been the main scenario of research on the transition from hunter-gatherers to peasant societies. During the last 20 years, however, the archaeological research carried out in the Northern Levant has stressed the importance of this second focus of neolithization. Many questions have arisen dealing with the relationship between these two areas and on the role of the Middle Euphrates for the transmission of the new way of living towards Anatolia. The stratigraphical sequence of Tell Mureybet, with a continuous occupation from the Natufian to the Middle PPNB, shows the parallelism of the cultural processes taking place in the Southern Levant and in the Middle Euphrates between the 11th and the 9th millennium BP. Some relevant topics will be dealt with in the publication.

Nimrud (Samuel M. Paley & Richard P. Sobolewski, 2002)

The Central Palace of Tiglath-pileser III at Nimrud and The Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology's Excavation (1974-1976): A Digital Publication: View Publication

The Polish Center of Archaeology returned to re-excavate the site of the Central Palace of Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC) at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) near the city of Mosul in northeastern Iraq in 1974 because the palace was the least known and least understood of the buildings on Nimrud's citadel. It was hoped that new excavations would elucidate this poorly preserved palace with more up-to-date excavation techniques and new finds. There are too few examples of Tiglath-pileser's bas-reliefs in the total corpus of Assyrian bas-relief to allow the results of the Polish project to remain unpublished. The Polish finds are an extremely valuable resource. More disturbing is the fact that individual bas-relief sculptures (some with inscriptions) have appeared on the antiquities market, looted from the Polish storeroom at Nimrud. Some of the bas-reliefs have been broken up into pieces to obscure their origin and obtain more money from several rather than one fragment. What we know of Tiglath-pileser's palace is that many of the themes of earlier and later sculpture are to be found on its bas-relief decoration. There are new motifs and the syntax of the sculpture, the way scenes were portrayed, the placement of the vignettes of individual parts of scenes on the faces of the slabs, and details of the garment decorations have their own character and style.

Nineveh (Diana Pickworth, 2007)

Nineveh: The Excavation Report of the Halzi Gate. Volume I and The Registered Objects. Volume II

Nineveh, the largest ancient site in northern Iraq, is situated at the crossroads of ancient east-west routes and the north-south trending Tigris River, beside the tributary Khosr River. The strategic location made it a natural capital of an empire-hungry Neo-Assyrian king, Sennacherib (704-681 BC), and final location of the empire's demise in 612 BC. One of the last skirmishes between the defendants and the attackers is encapsulated in the Halzi Gate. Resting only centimeters below the surface, behind desperately placed last minute blocking stones, we excavated the remains of twelve individuals, some pierced with arrows, others with spears. A dead stallion outside the wall to the west of the gate, with parts of his unseated rider lying behind him, told a story with a bitter end. The objective of the publication is to present an anthropological perspective: of the range of social groups, of differentiation between royal and elite wares, to show the products of a workshop area, and present the weaponry then available. The vastness of the ancient city is difficult to comprehend unless one has driven around the perimeter.

Nineveh (Eleanor Barbanes-Wilkinson, 2003)

Nineveh: Assyrian Pottery from the Lower Town, Iraq

The ancient city, one of the most important and oldest in Mesopotamia, was the last great capital of the Assyrian empire. Dominating the site is the high mound known as Kuyunjik, which may have been occupied almost continuously from the seventh millennium B.C. through the early Islamic period. In the early 7th century B.C., during the reign of the Neo-Assyrian king Sennacherib, the city was enlarged to 750 hectares, incorporating a secondary citadel, now called Nebi Yunus, and an extensive walled lower town. The primary goal of this project is the production of a ceramic type series for the period of Neo-Assyrian occupation in the city which, despite the considerable amount of archaeological work conducted at the site since the mid-19th century, has not yet been developed or published.

Nuzi (Gernot Wilhelm, 2002)

Publication of the Nuzi Tablet Fragments, Iraq

From 1925 to 1931, a joint archaeological expedition of the American School of Oriental Research at Baghdad and the Iraq Museum, since 1927 with the participation of the Semitic Museum and the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University excavated the ancient site of Nuzi (present day Yorghan Tepe), near modern Kirkuk/Iraq. Level II dates back to the fifteenth and fouteenth centuries BCE and has been excavated completely. For this period Nuzi has become a most important place of reference. Among the finds were ca. 5000 cuneiform tablets which were divided between the museums of the Chicago Oriental Institute, the Harvard Semitic Musuem and the Iraq Museum Baghdad.The Nuzi archives form an exceedingly important group of sources bearing on the social conditions, economic activity and legal practices of all social strata in a period that is otherwise pourly documented. These sources have a unique potential for the case study of an Ancient Near Eastern society.

Terqa (Giorgio Buccellati & Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, 1999)

Final publication of the Excavations by the Joint Expedition to Terqa: View Publication

The site of Terqa is significant several ways. As the most important province of Mari, it mirrored closely the image of the capital (from the administrative correspondence to the singular example of two identical plaques found one in each city). As the new capital after the fall of Mari, it provides us with the one of the most significant stratigraphic and historical links across the great divide of the 16"' century (if such a one existed!). Some of the "minor" finds from the excavations turned out to be of incalculable cultural significance, such as the discovery of cloves in a good Old Babylonian context (still to be properly published). Results from faunal analysis provided unexpected new evidence about animal husbandry in this truly "Amorite" town, and helped launch a whole new interpretive line of research in the age old question of the origin and nature of this ethnic group.

 

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
Harvard University, The Semitic Museum. 6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: (617) 495-9317 | Fax: (617) 496-8904 | Email: whitelev@fas.harvard.edu