Interactions and New Directions in Near Eastern Archaeology is the third volume of the Proceedings of the 5th Broadening Horizons International Conference that was held at the University of Udine from 5th to 8th June 2017. Broadening Horizons aims to be an international platform for postgraduate students and early-career researchers in the wide Near Eastern archaeology field. The main topic of the conference Civilizations in Contact served to emphasize the importance of cross-cultural interactions in the Near East over time. In particular, the present volume is devoted to the papers from Session 7, “Civilizations in contact: current research and new approaches in Mediterranean and Near Eastern Archaeology”, and Session 6, “Marine connections: the Gulf and the interactions between the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, the Iranian world and beyond”.
The volume contains 24 peer-reviewed papers divided into two parts, introduced by the two key-lectures which were given by Elena Rova and Maurizio Cattani. These proceedings give a vivid picture of the exchanges and interactions that occurred during the presentation and debate of specialist papers in Udine
at the conference. The diversity in terms of geographical environments, historical periods, and topics in Near Eastern archaeology stands out among the contributions published here. This collection of papers by a new generation of young scholars offers fresh and novel approaches to complex archaeological topics.
Costanza Coppini is a White-Levy fellow at the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology at the Freie Universität Berlin, leading a project about the Middle and Late Bronze Age pottery and settlements in Northern Mesopotamia. She is a member of the Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project (LoNAP), where she is in charge of the study and publication of second millennium pottery and takes part in the excavation at Gir-e Gomel (KIGAP). Her primary research field concerns the archaeology of the ancient Near East with a specialization in second millennium BC pottery and settlements. In relation to this topic she is involved in the study and publication of the pottery from the excavations at Tell Barri (Missione Archeologica Italiana a Tell Barri, Siria) and Tell Fekheriye (Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin). She currently collaborates with other archaeological projects in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and has been involved in excavation projects in Italy and Syria.
Besides these she participates in projects dealing with cultural heritage preservation.
Francesca Simi is a postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Oxford. She works for the
Endangered Archaeology in Middle East and North Africa project (EAMENA) at Oxford and is a senior member of the Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project (LoNAP). Her primary research field lies in the archaeology of the ancient Near East with a specialization in landscape archaeology. Her interests focus on the reconstruction of long-term population and land-use dynamics in Upper Mesopotamia by means of field survey, remote sensing techniques and GIS methods. She has been involved in several survey and excavation projects in Italy, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq – KRG, she directed the Tell Gomel Archaeological Survey (TGAS).
This paper aims at presenting the results of the topographic fieldwork of a team of professional archaeologists
invited by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture of the Sultanate of Oman to excavate and survey three graveyards
in the area of Sohar (Falaji as Souq, Wadi al Arad and Liwa) in 2014 and 2015.
The construction of the Batinah Express Highway would have led to the destruction of hundreds of burial
mounds, therefore the team developed a quick and accurate surveying strategy to document them properly: after
a first “test” campaign using monoscopic photogrammetry, the team opted for 3D SfM photogrammetry
using a completely open source workflow.
This workflow required two surveyors on the field and in the IT lab to ensure the archaeologists updated orthophotos
and to update the 2D and 3D vector plans. To manage the huge mass of data coming from the field the
team opted for QGIS and the plugin PyArchInit.
The mix of surveying methodology and managing system developed on site allowed the team to document the
numerous Stratigraphic Units produced during the excavation of hundreds of graves, and also proved to be very
helpful as hermeneutic tool as shown in the case of the excavation of Grave 21.
The Arabian-Persian Gulf area has been fertile soil for different civilisations through the centuries, and bears the traces of numerous settlements of many different historical periods. Specifically, the area known in the past as Bēt Qaṭrāyē shows the vestiges of the Christian Syrian presence. The coastal region stretching from Kuwait to the United Arab Emirates, including also some of the Persian islands, displays a strange unevenness between the literary sources and the archaeological data relating to the history of the Christian communities that lived there between the fourth and the ninth centuries. The main texts naming the area, specifically its upper clergy and its most important religious circumstances, are the acts of the councils, but there are also other mentions scattered in different sixth and seventh centuries authors’ texts. Following the path of the ups and downs of the Church of the East, this paper aims at reconstructing a hypothetical history of the dioceses and the settlements in the area that witnessed the Christian presence. Anyway, this history cannot be understood only by relying upon written sources, and needs then to be integrated with the archaeological reports produced during the last decades. The result of this integration is the picture of a highly lively community, strong and self-reliant, whose history was too often forgotten.
Maritime trade in the Persian Gulf has been a pivotal feature of world trading systems from the Bronze Age to the present. Understanding its origins in prehistory is essential for any broader interpretation of early social and economic developments between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. The key period in this respect is the Mid-Late sixth millennium BC, when material culture of Mesopotamian origin is first documented in the Gulf. The material remains are in the form of potsherds from the southern Mesopotamian Ubaid tradition, which have been found as far as the Straits of Hormuz, 900 km from Iraq. Chemical analysis, conducted on the Ubaid-ware found in Arabia, determined that these potsherds originated from southern Mesopotamia and were not local imitations. These Ubaid-ware sherds, alongside a coarse-ware, believed to be local, are the earliest ceramic material found in Arabia. However, after the Ubaid period came to an end by the end of the fifth millennium BC, ceramic artefacts are not seen again in Arabia for nearly a millennium. Therefore this early appearance of ceramics in the Gulf region takes on a central role in approaching the wider questions of cross-cultural interaction. However, questions concerning provenance remain. This paper details ICP-AES analysis conducted on both the Ubaid-ware and the local ware with the aim of furthering our understanding of the exchange relationship between Mesopotamia and Arabia and putting the Ubaid within the context of the Arabian Neolithic nomadic population.
During the excavations of Sumhuram (1997-2018) a large number of findings were brought to light. An interesting
and enigmatic group of objects, composed of 18 big shells that have particular decorative motifs, are
particularly interesting for understanding the interconnection between Arabia Felix and the Near East. In fact,
the objects and the iconography had no comparisons in south-western Arabia, but there are close comparisons
from Iran and some similar objects from the Gulf area and the north of Oman. In order to understand if these
objects were imported or belonged to a local production, they were analytically studied. Considering the few
comparisons at the current state of research, it is difficult to establish their origin with certainly. It is possible,
however, to say that close relations with Iran are present. This emphasizes the uniqueness of the city of Sumhuram
also regarding its artistic production, which turns out to be a reinterpretation of models from different
cultures and places.
The transitional phase between the Middle and the Late Bronze Age in Northern Mesopotamia is difficult to define, both from a historical and an archaeological perspective. This paper seeks to address the main issues in the identification of diagnostic ceramic features for this phase, by comparing the evidence from the Erbil plain with the data gathered from surveys and excavations in the Middle and Upper Tigris region (i.e. Yorgan Tepe, Tell Rimah, Tell Billa) and in the Syrian Jazirah (i.e. Tell Brak, Tell Bderi and Tell Barri). Through the analysis of the ceramic assemblages coming from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and their comparison with materials belonging to better known stratified sequences, I will focus on the diagnostic features characterizing the pottery repertoire during the Middle Bronze Age - Late Bronze Age transition.