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  • Glenn M. Schwartz, Christopher D. Brinker, Andrew T. Creekmore, Marian H. Feldman, Alexia Smith and Jill A. Weber...


Excavations at the 109 hectare site of Kurd Qaburstan on the Erbil plain in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq were conducted by the Johns Hopkins University in 2013 and 2014. The Middle Bronze Age (Old Babylonian period) is the main period of occupation evident on the site, and the project therefore aims to study the character of a north Mesopotamian urban centre of the early second millennium b.c. On the high mound, excavations revealed three phases of Mittani (Late Bronze) period occupation, including evidence of elite residential architecture. On the low mound and the south slope of the high mound, Middle Bronze evidence included domestic remains with numerous ceramic vessels left in situ. Also dating to the Middle Bronze period is evidence of a city wall on the site edges. Later occupations include a cemetery, perhaps of Achaemenid date, on the south slope of the high mound and a Middle Islamic settlement on the southern lower town. Faunal and archaeobotanical analysis provide information on the plant and animal economy of the second millennium b.c. occupations, and geophysical results have documented a thirty-one hectare expanse of dense Middle Bronze Age architecture in the northern lower town.


Corresponding author

Glenn M. Schwartz, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21218
Christopher D. Brinker, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21218
Andrew T. Creekmore III, Department of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, 501 20th Street, Campus Box 90, Greeley, CO 80639
Marian H. Feldman, Departments of the History of Art and Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21218
Alexia Smith, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Beach Hall 406, 354 Mansfield Road, Unit 1176, Storrs CT 06269
Jill A. Weber, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia PA 19104


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We are very grateful to our colleagues in the antiquities organization of the Kurdistan Regional Government for their assistance and encouragement. In the Directorate-General of Antiquities, we are particularly grateful to Kak Mala Awat (Abubakir Othman Zainaddin) and Kak Kaifi Mustafa for their support. In the Erbil Department of Antiquities, we are thankful for the invaluable assistance of Kak Nader Babakr and his staff, including Kak Saber Hassan, head of inspectors, Kak Guran Muhammad Muhammad Amin, head of excavations, and our representatives (for 2013: Kak Guran Muhammad Muhammad Amin, Kak Pishtiwan Ahmad Ibrahim, Kak Rojgar Rashid Hamed, and Pawan Kamal Ahmad Khan; for 2014: Kak Gharib Ismail Bawa Murad and Kak Amir Karim Abdullah).

We greatly appreciate the help provided by Kak Qubad Talabani, former KRG Representative, Washington, D.C., and the extensive assistance supplied by Kak Najat Abdullah, Director of Culture and Community of the KRG Representation in Washington, D.C., in acquiring our excavation permit and in many other areas. Also much appreciated is the support received from the National Science Foundation (grant BCS-1156171 for fieldwork at Kurd Qaburstan, BCS-1229061 for geophysics instruments, and Early Faculty CAREER grant 1054938 to Alexia Smith for archaeobotanical research), the National Geographic Society, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Northern Colorado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, GardaWorld International Protective Services, and the Arthur and Isadora Dellheim Foundation.

The project is indebted to Jason Ur for calling attention to the potential for investigating Kurd Qaburstan, providing advice on initiating a field project in Kurdistan, and sharing the EPAS surface collection data from Kurd Qaburstan. Among our friends and colleagues in Erbil, we would especially like to thank David Michelmore for his generous hospitality, Manhal Shaya for his superb assistance with logistical and administrative issues, and Paul Sutphin and Joseph Pennington, U.S. Consuls-General, and Jinnie Lee, Kim Krhoutek, Kari Paetzold of the U.S. Consulate-General for their help. We are also very grateful to Julian Allen, Nicholas Bennett, Jessica Giraud, Kathryn Hanson, Jessica Johnson, Abdullah Khorsheed, Konstantinos Kopanias, Brian Lione, Maria Grazia Masetti-Rouault, and Olivier Rouault for their advice and assistance. For ideas useful in preparing this article, we thank Mark Garrison, Benjamin Sass, and Diana Stein. Anna Soifer and Clara Hickman helped prepare the illustrations.



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