25 min

Site Destruction in the Iraqi Jazirah: a satellite imagery assessment (English‪)‬ Protecting the Past 2 - Towards a better future with cultural heritage

    • Education

Dr Emma Cunliffe brings our attention to the importance of considering the significant damage caused by agriculture, development, irrigation and infrastructure protects to less visible sites and features, such as holloways. The Northern Jazira in Iraq is an area with a long, rich settlement history that includes small early settlements, multi-period tell sites, and a wide variety of later settlement and off-site features. In particular, the region is notable for its network of hollow ways – an extensive network of well-preserved routes connecting the ancient settlements. Some are estimated to be at least 5000 years old, and yet despite substantial landscape change are still visible today.

However, over the last 60 years the archaeology of the region has come under increasing threat. Problems include dam inundation and the associated irrigation networks, the intensified farming that follows it, and expanding urbanisation and its accompanying infrastructure. Although some rescue work has been conducted in advance of some infrastructure projects, the extent of the damage these have caused has never been assessed. This paper will review 60 years of landscape change in the area around Tell al-Hawa, using early CORONA satellite imagery and recent Digital Globe imagery. Although we will never have a ‘complete’ record of the past to study, by examining the effects of modern development on the archaeology of the region, it is possible to assess its loss. This paper will conclude by considering the impact this has – and will continue to have – on the study of the history of Iraq, and its implications for heritage management.

Dr Emma Cunliffe brings our attention to the importance of considering the significant damage caused by agriculture, development, irrigation and infrastructure protects to less visible sites and features, such as holloways. The Northern Jazira in Iraq is an area with a long, rich settlement history that includes small early settlements, multi-period tell sites, and a wide variety of later settlement and off-site features. In particular, the region is notable for its network of hollow ways – an extensive network of well-preserved routes connecting the ancient settlements. Some are estimated to be at least 5000 years old, and yet despite substantial landscape change are still visible today.

However, over the last 60 years the archaeology of the region has come under increasing threat. Problems include dam inundation and the associated irrigation networks, the intensified farming that follows it, and expanding urbanisation and its accompanying infrastructure. Although some rescue work has been conducted in advance of some infrastructure projects, the extent of the damage these have caused has never been assessed. This paper will review 60 years of landscape change in the area around Tell al-Hawa, using early CORONA satellite imagery and recent Digital Globe imagery. Although we will never have a ‘complete’ record of the past to study, by examining the effects of modern development on the archaeology of the region, it is possible to assess its loss. This paper will conclude by considering the impact this has – and will continue to have – on the study of the history of Iraq, and its implications for heritage management.

25 min

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