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Revisiting the Sealands: Report of Preliminary Ground Reconnaissance in the Hammar District, Dhi Qar and Basra Governorates, Iraq1

  • Carrie Hritz (a1), Jennifer Pournelle (a2) and Jennifer Smith (a3)

The flourit of early Sumerian civilization in southern Iraq marked a degree of economic differentiation, sociopolitical complexity, and urbanization previously unseen in the ancient world. This article reports the results of recent geo-archaeological investigation of three complementary resources in southern Mesopotamia that are thought to have offered an ecological advantage, thus laying the economic foundations for these developments: (1) expansive irrigable plains; (2) vast pasture lands; and (3) the littoral resources of levee back swamps/deltaic marshes. Focusing on the area of the Hawr al-Hammar marshes, the authors conducted preliminary archaeological, geological and landscape investigation over the course of 18 days in the autumn of 2010, funded by a U.S. National Science Foundation High Risk Research in Physical Anthropology and Archaeology grant.

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Conducted September 11–22,2010 under NSF-HRRPAA Award # 1045974, with permission from the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), and the Iraq Ministries of Culture, Interior, and Tourism. We are especially grateful to: SBAH Director Quais Hussein Rasheed and SBAH representatives from Dhi Qar and Nasiriya for their support; Sheikh 'Ali ibn Muhammed al-Ghizi and Dhaif Muhsen Al-Ghizi, Site Curator of Ur, for their hospitality, support, and guidance; and to the Iraq Ministry of the Interior for providing police escorts within each governorate and city district.

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