The Imperial Landscape of Assyria, from the Ground and Above

Lecture: ARF Special & Workshops | April 5 | 5-7 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Jason Ur, Professor, Harvard University

 Archaeological Research Facility, Near Eastern Studies, Badè Museum

Since 2012 a new Harvard University archaeological research project began in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. This area was the core of the Neo-Assyrian empire (ca. 900-600 BC), which at its greatest stretched from Egypt to Iran. The Erbil Plain Archaeological Survey (EPAS) is identifying and mapping sites from the Neolithic to the 20th century AD around the modern city of Erbil (ancient Arbail, capital of an inner Assyrian province). The project is focused particularly on the landscape impacts of the Neo-Assyrian empire—massive walled cities, enormous irrigation systems, and a countryside filled with deportees from distant conquered lands. This presentation describes project’s methods and preliminary results, with a particular focus on its use of historical remote sensing sources: declassified intelligence aerial photographs (U2) and satellite imagery (CORONA and HEXAGON) and drone-based aerial imagery. These sources present remarkable advantages but also substantial challenges to research in landscape archaeology in the Middle East and beyond.