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  • Jesse Casana and Claudia Glatz

While the Diyala (Kurdish Sirwan) River Valley is storied in Near Eastern archaeology as home to the Oriental Institute's excavations in the 1930s as well as to Robert McC. Adams’ pioneering archaeological survey, The Land Behind Baghdad, the upper reaches of the river valley remain almost unknown to modern scholarship. Yet this region, at the interface between irrigated lowland Mesopotamia and the Zagros highlands to the north and east, has long been hypothesized as central to the origins and development of complex societies. It was hotly contested by Bronze Age imperial powers, and offered one of the principle access routes connecting Mespotamia to the Iranian Plateau and beyond. This paper presents an interim report of the Sirwan Regional Project, a regional archaeological survey undertaken from 2013–2015 in a 4000 square kilometre area between the modern city of Darbandikhan and the plains south of Kalar. Encompassing a wide range of environments, from the rugged uplands of the Zagros front ranges to the rich irrigated basins of the Middle Diyala, the project has already discovered a wealth of previously unknown archaeological sites ranging in date from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic through the modern period. Following an overview of the physical geography of the Upper Diyala/Sirwan, this paper highlights key findings that are beginning to transform our understanding of this historically important but poorly known region.

Corresponding author
Jesse Casana, Dartmouth College, USA,
Claudia Glatz, University of Glasgow, UK,
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We would like to thank the General Directorate of Antiquities of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Garmian Department of Antiquities for allowing us to work in this important area and for their ongoing support. In particular we must thank Abwbakr Osman Zainadin (Mala Awat), Director General of Antiquities and Heritage for the Kurdistan Region, Dr. Kamal Rashid, Director of Antiquities and Heritage for Suleymaniyah, and Shwkr Muhammed Haydar, Director of Antiquities and Heritage for Garmian. In Garmian, we owe a special debt of gratitude to Salh Muhammad Samin, Deputy Director of the Museum, and our representatives, Awat Baban and Hoshiar Hassan Latif, who participated in much of our fieldwork and helped in many other ways. Funding for fieldwork has been provided by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the G.A. Wainwright Fund, the John Robertson Bequest (University of Glasgow), the Leverhulme Trust (IAF-2014-019), the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas, and Dartmouth College. The results reported herein could not have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of our team, including Eric Jensen, Francesca Chelazzi, Mitra Panahipour, Elise Jakoby Laugier, Autumn Cool, Kathleen Nicoll, and Christopher Fletcher.

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