Gird-i Dasht: A deep Late Chalcolithic Stratigraphy

A selection of ceramic and lithic finds from the excavation at Gird-i Dasht. Photo: Greta Rettler

The Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq is an important study area for research into the human past. However, the political situation has hindered archaeological work for decades. It is only in the last years that researchers from abroad have had opportunities to work there again. From October to early November, a German-Norwegian team led by ROOTS member Tim Kerig, in close cooperation with scientists from Soran University and the General Directorate for Antiquities responsible for the region, investigated Gird-i Dasht, the principal tell on the Delizian Plain about 2 hours driving northeast of Erbil. 

As part of the joint From Mound to Cave project, they opened two trenches in the steep hill. For one of these trenches, the scientists used an existing looters hole to minimize the overall impact on the mound's appearance. All contexts were described verbally, measured and documented in photos as well as by photogrammetric Structure from Motion-models (SfM). Important profiles were also drawn. Orthophotos as well as SfM were taken with the help of a drone. The combination of these different methods ensured a highly precise measurement of the finds and structures. 

The team found horizontally parallel layers that are steeply sloping to the slope, metre-thick ash layers and continuous fire horizons. Preliminary investigations suggest that these layers can be dated both to late chalcolithic (LC) 3-5 and LC 1-2. There are indications that there are still at least 10 m of older layers underneath. As soon as analyzed, several hundreds of ceramic and lithic finds as well as radiocarbon dates will allow a more detailed view on the prehistoric settlement dynamics in this part of Kurdistan. 

This year’s excavation continued the work of the project "From Mound to Cave" in 2021, when the team started with a small trench at the foot of Gird-i Dasht to work out a first idea of what archaeological periods could be expected. 

The 2022 scientific team consisted of Dr. Tim Kerig (ROOTS), Dr. Jutta Lechterbeck (Archaeological Museum at the University of Stavanger, Norway), Greta Rettler and Eileen Pohl (Kiel University, Germany), Benny Waszk, George Hanna and Jannis Werner (University Mainz, Germany), Tenka Ismail (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), Tjark Kerig (student trainee Tasta Rusta Stavanger, Norway). Shler Ahmad and Hidayet Hussein represented the Directorate of Antiquities, Soran, at the excavation. The excavation was also supported by the generosity of the landowners. 

Under the hashtag #FromMounttoCave, the team posted updates on Twitter during the excavation. 

This digital elevation model shows the prominent position of Gird-i Dasht in the Delizian Plain. Data and visualization: Benny Waszk

The team explores the steep flanks of the tell for suitable sites to excavate. Photo: Greta Rettler

Opening trenches in the hill slopes is hard work. Photo: Greta Rettler

Ethnoarchaeological observations are part of the fieldwork during the From Mound to Cave campaign. Photo: Greta Rettler



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