View Full Version : New archaeology survey maps Iraqi Kurdistan

Jean M
06-18-2014, 08:36 PM

Until recently the Kurdish region of Iraq was one of the most neglected area of the Near East. A guerilla war of Kurds against the central Iraqi government precluded any archaeological activities for several decades. After 2003 only three northeastern provinces of Iraq, controlled by former Kurdish guerillas, offered any semblance of safety and conditions that could allow fieldwork to take place. These opportunities have only really been exploited since 2010.

The Upper Greater Zab Archaeological Reconnaissance (UGZAR) project, launched in 2012, is one of several projects aimed at creating an archaeological map of the region as a pilot programme for archaeological exploration and heritage management of Kurdistan.

The Kurdish region of Iraq is now controlled by former peshmerga (Kurdish guerillas) after the region gained autonomy, and in contrast to the remaining part of Iraq, offers safe conditions for fieldwork.

An international conference held at Athens. Greece, in November 2013, demonstrated that there are presently more than 30 international archaeological projects under way in Iraqi Kurdistan. The survey coverage of the entire region in now an objective of primary importance.

Old Iraqi archaeological maps list only about 20% of actual sites, and provide information that is far from accurate. Many of those sites are now either damaged or lost to the rapid development of Iraqi Kurdistan; for example the area of the city of Erbil has increased 30-fold since 1970s, and is still rapidly expanding. Without an archaeological map of the country no reasonable heritage management is possible.

The UGZAR project, carried out by a team from the Institute of Prehistory, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, is one of several projects focusing on preparation of a precise and up-to-date archaeological map....

During two seasons of fieldwork about one third of the work permit area was surveyed, revealing more than 100 archaeological sites, 99 of which were fully recorded. The sites cover a wide range of periods from pre-Hassuna and Hassuna to pre-Modern (19th – early 20th century AD), providing an overarching timespan of approximately ten thousand years of the settlement history of the area..

Rock art of Gunduk

Some of the surveyed sites proved to be of much interest and potential for further research. The first among them is the site of rock art at Gunduk. Three panels were carved on the rock face on the left of a large rock shelter/cave opening in the side of the mountain range above the village. On the stylistic grounds they are dated to Early Dynastic III period (c. 2600-2350 BC – according to conventional Middle Chronology), being thus the most ancient example of this kind of monument in Mesopotamia. Unfortunately, two out of three relief panels fell victim to looters in 1996, who blew up the rock face, seriously damaging one of the representations, and entirely destroying the other.

06-18-2014, 10:27 PM
There are a lot of ancient Assyrian sites in the Kurdish areas that I hope they can study (The Mar Aūdĩšū monastery pictured in the link is one of them).

I hope the KRG can extend their borders to other Assyrian regions so the areas can be safe and secure for future studies.

06-18-2014, 11:43 PM

Development threat

Very few sites suffered from installations of military character. However, a greater threat is posed by human activity to the sites located in the villages. These are usually cut or levelled to provide more space for new structures raised in the vicinity. In the most extreme case of site S055 (Girdi Keleke 3) the entire site, reputedly 3 m high, was levelled to make space for building three houses. Some higher sites in the vicinity of Daratu, on the western bank of the Greater Zab, which are located at a distance from settlements have suffered as a result of digging for clay. There is no doubt that the Kurdish authorities should increase efforts to monitor archaeological sites, and especially to raise the awareness among the local societies about the importance for preserving those places for the future.

Stephanie Dalley raised the same concern(s) in her documentary about the "Hanging Gardens of Nineveh." (http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?1642-Mystery-of-the-missing-Hanging-Gardens-of-Babylon-solved&p=39539&viewfull=1#post39539)