August 1st – October 15th 2015
studied: Duhok province (MAP)
studied: ca. 295 km2
of sites discovered: 46 settlements and 90 caves
Prof. UAM Dr. Rafal Kolinski (UAM), Dr. Dorota Lawecka, Dr. Dariusz Szelag,
Joanna Mardas, MA, Filip Waldoch (UAM), Michalina Dzwoniarek-Konieczna,
MA (UAM), Xenia Kolinska, MA (“Present & Past” Foundation), Arthur
Stefanski, MA (University of Toronto), Karolina Do Huu (Wroclaw University),
Maciej Czarnecki, MA, Jerzy Wierzbicki and Dariusz Piasecki (photographers),
as well as Sarkaft Amr Taladzin and Atheel Abdalla Ibrahim (Office of Antiquities,
objective of the 2015 field season was the completion of work in
the region of Duhok province, particularly in the southern part of the
work area, forming a triangle delineated by the Great Zab valley, the Eski
Kelek – Bardaraş highway, and the edge of the Zilka Bardaraş heights.
OF THE SEASON
team worked in a smaller squad of 5 members (RK, XK, JM, MDK, and JW) in
the first two weeks (August 3-14). The objective of these two weeks was
the initiation and completion of architectural objects located in the mountain
valleys of the Şaxi Akre, identified during the 2014 season. In the course
of 10 days of work, the Mar Axxa church in Şermen, the monastery in Şuş,
the monastery of Mar Audişio in Gunduk, the Çemetery in Gunduk, the church
in Xrdis, the church of the Holy Mother in Xerpe, the cathedral of Our
Lady of the Rosary, and the church of Mar Georgios in Akre, as well as
the monastery of Mar Girgis in Qalati were documented and measured with
a Total Station. Additional photographic and film documentation was conducted,
and samples of building materials were taken (stone and mortar), which
will be taken to Poland for chemical analysis.
team worked in its full capacity from August 15th (and Jerzy Wierzbicki
was replaced by our project photographer Dariusz Piasecki). Two main objectives
were undertaken from August 15-28: the survey of caves within the project
work area, and the location and registration of archaeological sites within
its southern part. Simultaneously, geological and geomorphological survey
was conducted by Michalina Dzwoniarek-Konieczna in the work area.
unexpected finding was revealed by this last activity: an archaeological
occupation layer was found in the section of one of the pits excavated
for the construction of a well, covered by a thick alluvial deposit and
which had no corresponding surface materials. Its presence and the material
discovered (from the Neo-Assyrian period) suggests that the area of the
survey has been affected not only by erosion, but also by sedimentation.
Xazine (S141) proved to be another interesting site. This site is located
on the top of a height in the arid zone of the Şaxi Zilka Bardaraş, and
was settled only in the Mitanni Period (mid 2nd millennium BC). Looting
pits discovered at the sites show that despite its exposed position, an
occupational layer is present at least 2 meters below the ground, with
preserved stone foundations. It is, however, impossible to determine the
purpose of settlement in such a remote area without archaeological excavation.
first two weeks of the cave survey activities produced 19 cave sites, located
between the western border of the work permit area up to and including
Akre town. Already after such a short period of survey, it was evident
that the number of caves would far exceed the number expected based on
past literature. It was also made evident that the majority of caves are
used by shepherds as shelters for their flocks of cattle and sheep. Therefore,
it was not possible to observe cultural layers in the caves, and only scarce
findings were made from the slope below the cave entrance; these were typically
from the late Islamic period and later.
following two weeks of fieldwork (August 29-September 10) brought about
a number of interesting findings.
first of these was the identification and documentation of site S146. Located
on a cliff about 75m above the western bank of the
Zab river, the assemblage of this site was representative of southern Mesopotamian
late Uruk culture. This is the only site of its kind on the western bank
of the river; furthermore, it is in relation to site S002 directly on the
opposite bank, which was documented in 2012. Without a doubt, these sites
functioned as a pair. It is possible that S002 was a settlement, and S146
an outpost controlling the Zab valley. It was also discovered that S002
no longer exists. A gravel deposit appeared in its vicinity in 2013; excavations
up to 10m below the surface destroyed over 90% of the site. On September
1st, a rescue expedition to the site managed to collect additional ceramic
material from waste dumps around the gravel pit, as well as recovering
two complete bevelled rim bowls from an exposed section of the remaining
part of the site.
started on September 6th signalled a new and very promising activity for
the project; these were conducted on the second terrace on the west
bank of the Great Zab river, between the townships of Dalare and Xancirok
Nue. 17 previously unknown settlements were discovered along a 10km stretch
of the valley, which examined a roughly 200m wide strip of the terrace
(earlier, interviews enabled the discovery and registration of only two
the same time, work on the cave survey continued in the valleys east of
Akre. This portion of the mountains proved to be very useful in understanding
cave formation processes – anywhere from 7 to 14 caves were registered
in each of these valleys. In the course of two weeks, an additional 30
caves were added to our inventory.
period from September 12th to the 24th was used to document the sites identified
in the course of the Dalare-Xancirok transect. An additional transect was
conducted in the Çeme Girdapan valley, a stream flowing from the Zilka
Bardaraş plain in the direct of the Khazir river. 6 sites were identified
along a 5km strip of the valley to the south of Goma Zard village, which
suggests that the presently dry Çeme Girdapan stream flowed with water
in ancient times. In summary, it is possible to say on the basis of these
four sites (S141, S145, S178 and S142, which was located just outside of
the work permit area) that this area was inhabited throughout a period
of five thousand years up to the present.
was made on the inventory of cave sites. A very impressive number of caves
was found in the valleys of Cuna village – a total of 21 cave sites!
An additional 23 documented caves finally brought about the expectations
of the cave survey: chalcolithic ceramics from cave C066, as well as a
silver coin from the Parthian period (a drachma from the reign of Osroes/Khusro
II, 190 AD) from cave C069, and also a relatively rich collection of lithic
artifacts found around the entrance to cave C048.
last two weeks of fieldwork (September 26th to October 8th) were spent
on another transect in the Greater Zab valley, in the area of the towns
of Xaruk and Kele. In the course of these transects, three sites were found
in the area of Xaruk and two at Kele; these were documented immediately
after their identification.
intensive survey of caves continued, along the eastern part of the Şaxi
Akre. Luckily, the number of caves in this area of the mountains was lower
than in the central part – nonetheless, 91 caves were registered by the
end of the season. Archaeological materials were only recovered rather
sporadically from these caves, similar to the western area of the survey
of the region.
final days of the season were used to document architectural sites. Previously,
watermills which used rainfall runoff from fields (grist mills) were not
documented. This type of construction is known from Iran as early as the
Sasanian period (2nd to 7th centuries AD). The documented grist mills were
not quite this ancient; in some instances, local inhabitants in some villages
recalled that these grist mills were still in use in the 1970’s.
2015 field season was the final season of archaeological survey in the
work permit area in Duhok province. Thus, much of this season was planned
in such a way to complete the field documentation of archaeological sites,
their findings, as well as architectural sites in this area. In relation
to this, lithic material was finally documented, which had been accumulated
from sites registered in the 2012-2015 seasons. In total, 147 sites, 40
architectural sites, and 91 caves and rock shelters were identified in
the following year, archaeological survey is planned in Irbil province,
especially in the area of the Dasht-I Xarir, a fertile plain located along
the southern slopes of the mountain range of the same name.