From Mound to Cave: The Delzian Plain as an Economic Landscape (Iraqi Kurdistan)

Research project T2_3

The Delzian Plain is a fertile agricultural area in the Zagros Mountains (Iraqi Kurdistan). It is part of the Fertile Crescent, where humankind’s first transition to sedentary lifestyles, animal husbandry and plant production took place. Later, earliest cities, states and the first empires emerged in the wider region, with the Delzian as an important junction of all kinds of cultural contact: Developments on the Delzian Plain enable us to study paradigmatically the long-term effects of the emergence of social inequality.
The joint project with Tobias Helms (Near Eastern Archaeology, Mainz University) focusses on the evolution of the landscape as driven by social inequality. Fieldwork concentrates on two sites: 1) Girda Dasht, the principal settlement of the Delzian Plain where the main agricultural production took place  and 2) the Ashkawta Rash cave, which not only controlled a main access to the Delzian Plain but it also opened up the mountain sphere for seasonal husbandry and transhumance.
The excavations will establish a first typo-stratigraphical sequence. Ethno-archaeological work will recognize economic practices that took place within particular parts of the landscape. The project also critically observes the role of archaeology in the current process of Kurdish nation building.

The project is carried out in closest cooperation with the Scientific Research Centre (SRC) of the University of Soran and the Soran Directorate of Antiquities. In a joint project with the SRC a PhD program was developed. In his PhD thesis, Mr. Abdulwahab Suleiman (supervised by Dr. T. Kerig) is currently surveying the working area and setting up a GIS, both in close cooperation with our partners from Soran University Prof. K. Kolo, Dr. R. Hamad and Dr. O. Mahmoud. Generous support for our project comes from the General Directorate of Antiquities at Hawler/Erbil, headed by Mr. K. Ali. Fieldwork is carried out together with Dr. T. Helms (JGU Mainz) and funded by the German Research Agency (DFG). For cooperation we also thank Dr. V. Bartash, PD Dr. J. Becker, Dr. Cl. Beuger (Univ. Halle-Wittenberg), Dr. K. Edinborough (Univ. Canberra), J. Fassbinder (LMU München), F. Grops (Univ. Mainz), Dr. J. Lechterbeck (Univ. Stavanger), Prof. B. Krause-Kyora (CAU Kiel), Prof. C. Makarewicz (CAU Kiel), S. Maziar (Univ. Frankfurt), Dr. M. D. Price (MIT Boston), Dr. T. Rünger (Univ. Bonn), Prof. W. Schenk (Univ. Bonn), Dr. Ph. Serba (Univ. Frankfurt), Dr. D. Schyle (Neanderthal Museum Mettmann), Dr. A. Tamm (Univ. Erlangen), Dr. M. Würz (Univ. Frankfurt), Dr. D. A. M. Zamua (Univ. Sulaimaniyya).

ROOTS of InequalitiesGirda Dasht. The mound with fortifications above a large suburbium. First soundings and surface material prove occupation from the Neolithic until the Ottoman period (photo: Tim Kerig).

ROOTS of Inequalities
Ashkawta Rash cave. In a first campaign, architectural elements as well as hundreds of occupations could be documented (photo: Benny Waszk).

Project by Tim Kerig


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions