IAP VII: Greater Mesopotamia

Reconstruction of its Environment and History


Work Package III: Historical Geography



Identification on the map of ancient place names, names of watercourses and their ever evolving courses are necessary prerequisites to an understanding of the history of the region and its cultures. This WP will focus on the historical geography of three specific regions. Its three research axes are:



1. Reconstructing part of the historical landscape in Middle and Southern Babylonia (KU Leuven)


The new texts from Dur-Abieshuh, which are studied by the KU Leuven group, show once again the problems the ancient historian is confronted with when trying to recognize and locate ancient cities, their hinterland and their irrigation systems. One of the objectives of this research will be to reconstruct part of the historical landscape in Middle and Southern Babylonia by using texts, archaeological data, satellite images and surveys (as published by R. McCormick Adams and T. Wilkinson). In particular the link between Nippur and the canal Hammurabi-nuhush-nishi, a waterway flowing from central Babylonia to the southern sites of Uruk, Larsa, Ur and Eridu will be investigated. Dur-Abieshuh is said to be located on this canal linked to the Euphrates and on the Tigris River. A renewed investigation of the ancient riverbeds of the eastern branch of the Euphrates and of the western branch of the Tigris and the regions both rivers watered is an absolute necessity in view of the political and social upheavals at the very end of the Old Babylonian period.



2. Toponomy of the Akkar region (RMAH)


Since R. Dussaud’s magistral 1927 study on the toponomy of ancient Syria, only little data have been studied or published on toponyms of the southern Syrian and Phoenician littoral. Several new identifications recently published by E. Gubel concern more specifically sites and rivers of the Akkar plain (northern Lebanese and southern syrian coast) and will be followed by yet more new identifications during the course of the project.



3. Elam in the first half of the first Millennium BCE (UCLouvain)


The work package includes research on what is conventionally called Elam, the eastern neighbor of Mesopotamia. Nevertheless, Elam is not a simple geographical notion. In fact, it is an artificial name, invented by the Mesopotamians, which comprises various geographical units (from west to east): Susiana (with Susa as major centre), Ram Hormuz (with Tall-i Ghazir as major centre), Malamir (with the famous rock reliefs of Izeh), Behbehan, Mamasani (with Tol-e Nurabad as major centre) and the Kur River basin (with Anshan as major centre). In the heydays of the Middle Elamite kingdom (ca. 1350-1100 BCE) this geographical patchwork was united under one king. In the Neo-Elamite period, however, Elamite influence tends to shift, so that, for instance, one can notice that the Kur River Basin was not part anymore of the Neo-Elamite kingdom in the 6th century BCE. From a historical geographical point of view it is therefore highly interesting and desirable to study the extent of Elamite political and cultural influence throughout the Neo-Elamite period.


4. Historical geography of Ancient Anatolia


The historical geography of Ancient Anatolia is not yet completely known. The project focuses on southern and western Anatolia (Tarhuntassa, Pisidia, Lycia).





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