2014 Annual Meeting Plenary Address
Wednesday, November 19, 7:00pm-8:15pm
The Renaissance of Archaeology in Iraq
and its Kurdistan Region
John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
After an absence of over two decades, foreign archaeology has returned in earnest to one of the “cradles of civilization.” Two wars, international sanctions, and internal unrest had together brought archaeological research nearly to a standstill; only a few under-funded Iraqi teams and a handful of intrepid Europeans attempted fieldwork following the first Gulf War of 1991. Following a decline in political violence that began in 2008, archaeologists have returned to the Republic of Iraq. The resumption of fieldwork in the southern “heartland of cities” has been significant but slow and hampered by internal politics. In the autonomous Kurdistan Region, however, foreign research has expanded rapidly and continuously, in partnership with local archaeologists and institutes. This presentation will review these new developments, discuss how the new discoveries are challenging long-held ideas and filling blank spaces on the archaeological map, and suggest some new directions for the future of Mesopotamian studies.
Jason Ur is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. He specializes in early urbanism, landscape archaeology, and remote sensing, particularly the use of declassified US intelligence imagery. He has directed field surveys in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. He is the author of Urbanism and Cultural Landscapes in Northeastern Syria: The Tell Hamoukar Survey, 1999-2001 (2010). Since 2012, he has directed the Erbil Plain Archaeological Survey, an archaeological survey in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. He is also preparing a history of Mesopotamian cities.