Investigating prehistoric societies in Iraqi Kurdistan: theory and challenges

Current discussion of globalization and global interactions understandably tends to focus on the present. The roots of globalization reach far back, however; globalization happened many times before in the past. In the Middle East, complex, urbanized societies emerged already in the Late Chalcolithic (Uruk) period (4200-3000 BC). Granted: €3950

These societies were 'global' at heart and interacted vigorously between each other and with neighbors over large distances. Relationships were characterized by trade, warfare, colonization, peaceful coexistence and emulation, depending on local conditions. Interpreting this interaction is at the core of the archaeologists’ and Assyriologists’ profession.

Current discussion of globalization and global interactions understandably tends to focus on the present. The roots of globalization reach far back, however; globalization happened many times before in the past. In the Middle East, complex, urbanized societies emerged already in the Late Chalcolithic (Uruk) period (4200-3000 BC). These societies were 'global' at heart and interacted vigorously between each other and with neighbors over large distances. Relationships were characterized by trade, warfare, colonization, peaceful coexistence and emulation, depending on local conditions. Interpreting this interaction is at the core of the archaeologists’ and Assyriologists’ profession.

Our workshop discusses the emergence of complex societies in the ancient Middle East, focusing on Iraqi Kurdistan. Archaeological work in this region has fluctuated with the turbulent history of the wider Middle East. Until the 1960’s the region was at the forefront of archaeological investigation but subsequently it became virtually inaccessible to academic exploration. The earlier key sites now appear no longer in tune with recent work in surrounding areas. However, in recent years northern Iraq has witnessed a strong return of scientific archaeology in spite of the severe political, economic and humanitarian challenges still facing the region. This work yields a wealth of new data leading to a host of new questions. To what degree did northern Iraq form part of the broader Mesopotamian horizon in later prehistory?

The partners in this network focus their research on the Shahrizor Valley, a region rich in archaeological remains from all periods of the past. In 2013 a team from Leiden University excavated at the imposing Late Chalcolithic mound of Tell Begum. However, the heritage of this region faces dangers from rapid economic development. We shall discuss how archaeologists may contribute to preserving the archaeological heritage of Iraq.

Related events:
18 October workshop (open to colleagues and students):
Prehistoric Archaeology in the Shahrizor (Iraqui Kurdistan): Prospects and Challenges

19 October Public Lecture (open to all):
The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction 

Project Coordinators:
Dr. Olivier P. Nieuwenhuyse (Archaeology)
Dr. Caroline Waerzeggers (LIAS)
Dr. Kozad Ahmad (Professor Ancient History, Sulaimaniya Univesity)
Dr. Kamal Rasheed (Head Directorate Archaeology and Museums of Sulaimaniyah)

Grant awarded October 2014


 
Last Modified: 14-10-2015