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First farming societies in Upper Mesopotamia
Wednesday 22 June 2016

An article on phys.org - Iraqi Kurdistan site reveals evolution towards the first cities of Mesopotamia - reports that researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have revealed the latest archaeological discoveries on the origins and consolidation of the first farming societies in Upper Mesopotamia, in Iraqi Kurdistan: the Gird Lashkir project

First farming societies in Upper Mesopotamia
Archaeological objects found at the Gird Lashkir site by the UAB team. Image: UAB

The research is the result of a project conducted by an interdisciplinary team under the leadership of professors Anna Gómez Bach and Miquel Molist, from the UAB Department of Prehistory. The area had been closed off since the 1990s to archaeological research and the UAB is the only research team from Spain participating in the dig. Research focuses on the origins and consolidation of the first farming societies, in this case in the most eastern part of Upper Mesopotamia.

Upper Mesopotamia landscape. Image: Wikipedia

Iraqi Kurdistan is an exceptional archaeological area of the Middle East - until three years ago research has been halted since the 1990s. It is now seen as a new geographic and historical site in which to conduct archaeological studies, involving for instance the UAB team in collaboration with the Salahaddin University-Erbil. Work began in 2015.

The Gird Lashkir site is an archaeological tell has roughly 14 metres of sediments and a surface of 4 hectares occupied by ancient populations. It is located close to the cities of Kasnazan and Banaslawa. The archaeological dig has revealed a series of occupancies which go from the Neolithic period to the first millennium BCE.

Over 150 square metres have been uncovered along the slopes of the tell, revealing well conserved architectural remains of specialised buildings, personal houses and working areas located in exterior areas.

More recent occupancies are located in the higher part of the tell, dating from the historic Neo-Assyrian period until the end of the second millennium BCE.

Another very extensive and important occupancy, probably from the Early and Middle Bronze Age (more specifically from Ninevite V, 2600-2550 BC) was confirmed, with habitat vestiges in several areas of the tell and the discovery of very important objects.

The most ancient period, discovered in the latest campaign, is an occupancy from the Uruk period - ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE - in one of the deepest digs conducted at some 4 metres below current ground level. Remains were also recovered from the Neolithic's Ubaid and Halaf periods - 6000 to 4500 BCE. 

 
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Researchers believe the site reveals the evolution of the settlement in the western plain of northern Kurdistan. The good conservation of the remains and the importance of the objects found confirm the potential of the settlement as a historical source of the first cities of Mesopotamia.

Further work - laboratory analysis will commence with an in-depth study of all the material elements discovered, with archaeometric analyses from radiocarbon dating. Work at the site will continue in 2017 with the final restoration of the most significant objects which will be exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Erbil.

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