University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Douglas G. Lovell, Jr., Annual "Reports from the Field" 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Darren Ashby, Junior Fellow (Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
A View from the Mountains: The Rowanduz Archaeological Program 2013–14

Darren Ashby at Gird-i Dasht (courtesy of D.A.)
Darren Ashby at Gird-i Dasht (courtesy of D.A.)

Abstract

This past summer, the Rowanduz Archaeological Program (RAP) returned to the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan for its second season. This year’s survey and excavation have shed light on life in this region during the last eight millennia. In this talk, Darren will discuss RAP's most interesting discoveries as well as plans for future work.

Summary

Darren Ashby spoke about his work in the summer of 2014 in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. This was the second season for the Rowanduz Archaeological Program (RAP), which combines survey and excavation as it examines life in the Zagros Mountains of the Erbil Province during the last eight millennia. Darren, who is a field director, discussed RAP's most interesting discoveries. Part of the 2014 season included excavation at the site of Gird-i Dasht, which consists of a fortified high mound rising 20 meters above the plain surrounded by a low mound. Excavation continued in the trenches opened at both the top and the bottom of the high mound in the summer of 2013, while extensive survey took place in the low mound. Material recovered from these areas indicated that people lived at this site at least as far back as the 2nd-millennium B.C.E. and as recently as the 19th-century A.D. A second part of RAP featured rescue excavation in and around the towns of Soran and Sidekan, located near the Iraq-Iran border. These excavations included uncovering a Late Achaemenid tomb and examination of Iron age settlements, which contain burned levels that may relate to a campaign of the Neo Assyrian king Sargon II in the kingdom of Musasir. Survey was also conducted in an area thought to house an important temple of the kingdom, investigating extensive remains at Qalaat Mudjesir. Darren's talk can be viewed at: .

Darren Ashby outside of Shanidar Cave, where Neanderthals were found by Ralph Solecki (courtesy of D.A.)
Darren Ashby outside of Shanidar Cave, where Neanderthals were found by Ralph Solecki (courtesy of D.A.)

Lara Fabian, Junior Fellow (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Graduate Group)
The Romans Who Saw the Caspian Sea: Developing a Dissertation about South Caucasia in the Roman-Parthian Period

Abstract

Borderland studies are one of the most vibrant areas of modern archaeological research, looking at the dynamic process of negotiation between local residents, political elites, and imperial authorities. Among scholars of the Roman Empire, this is reflected in recent work in Britain, along the Danube, and in North Africa, which has brought much greater clarity to the strategies both of the Roman authorities and their neighbors. However, the story of Roman presence in the northern reaches of the South Caucasus—the modern nations of Azerbaijan and Georgia—is rarely integrated into these broader narratives about the Roman Empire. The region, however, was a vibrant zone, where local dynasts built bath complexes in a Roman style, and drank from cups imported from Parthia. They wrote inscriptions in Greek declaring their ties to Rome, but traded Parthian coinage. They freely acquired material culture and customs from areas that we consider ‘East’ and ‘West,’ while choosing to identify exclusively with neither.

This talk describes research carried out during the summer of 2014 in Azerbaijan and Georgia, aimed at developing Lara's doctoral dissertation concerning these issues. The foundation of her dissertation is not new archaeological excavation, but rather the rich material excavated by Soviet and post-Soviet archaeologists in the region, which has sadly received little attention outside of the sphere of Russian-speaking scholars. Lara will be highlighting some of the most important sites from the region, and discussing strategies for contextualizing this material, as well as directions for future research.

Sam C. Lin, Junior Fellow (Department of Anthropology)
Middle Stone Age Surface Archaeology in the Doring River Valley, Cederberg, South Africa

Abstract

The identification of the temporal and causal factors in the emergence of modern human behavior is a touchstone issue in paleoanthropology. Recently, attention has been placed on the Southern African Middle Stone Age (MSA; ~250–40k years ago). Sites of this period contain standardized stone implements as well as engraved ochre, engraved ostrich eggshell and shell beads; finds that indicate a level of early cultural complexity bearing markers of modern behavior – symbolic culture, art, and complex technologies. Current research into the MSA in South Africa has heavily centered on rockshelter sites. However, it has been suggested that MSA phases are represented in different geographic settings, with archaeological deposits from certain periods exist in abundance in surface and open air contexts. The Doring River Paleo Landscape Project was launched in the summer of 2014. The project aims to 1) identify and document MSA surface archaeology along the Doring River valley in the eastern Cederberg region of South Africa, and 2) correlate MSA surface archaeology with existing archaeological deposits from nearby rockshelter sites to enable a unified landscape-scale analysis of the MSA archaeology in the region. This presentation gives a preliminary report on the 2014 season.

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