About this Project
2015 – 2017
The archaeological landscape of Mesopotamia (much of modern Iraq and parts of Iran and Syria) is unique because it is a record of thousands of years of human-environment interactions involving large, complex societies. But trying to reconstruct environmental conditions and geographic distribution of features from only ancient texts and archaeological evidence leads to broad generalizations. We can now combine texts with archaeological evidence, natural science findings, information on environmental processes, and satellite imagery to delve deeper into the physical changes that occurred in Mesopotamian history.
The project used this information to assess the role of environment on the development of culture in Mesopotamia from prehistory to early modern times. It supplied and integrated data on the environmental and human interactions that were factors in the development of early urbanism, state formation, the first empires, and the subsequent fragmentation and coalescence of polities that has characterized ancient Mesopotamia and modern Iraq. The project brought together an interdisciplinary team of international scholars, including epigraphers, archaeologists, and natural scientists, to collaborate closely, through field work, data analysis and a conference, on new and better organized information on the development of the Mesopotamian landscape and the interaction of humans and nature there. This contributed to development of an overview of changing environmental conditions through time and their relationship to the cultural history of Mesopotamia. The resulting data and analyses will be made available through a variety of sources and serve as the basis for further specialized studies.
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