World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Archeology in the Middle East (051) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Miquel Molist (Head of the Prehistory Department - Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper presenter: Mehrdad Ghodrat-Dizaji (Assistant Professor of Ancient Iranian History, Faculty of Letters, Seda va Sima Str., Urmia University, Iran), “Sasanian Defensive System in Northern Iran”
Modern authors have shown that Sasanians erected walls and moats in their borders, especially in Mesopotamia, Caucasus and in the north-east and settled colonies at those regions to defend rnahr (Iranian Country). It is stated that quadripartition of Sasanian Empire has been part of Khusrow Is reforms to defend Iranian borders. Hence, the Northern quarter or kust came into existence by the integration of several provinces of Sasanian Empire in the sixth century AD. Sasanians penetrated into Caucasus from earlier times and erected fortifications there in order to defend the empire borders against northern nomads. They also, settled their tribes and subjects there, mainly from the regions of southern Caspian. Perhaps the most important defensive walls of the empire in the northern quarter were in the passes of northern Caucasus, especially in Darband. The city and the fortifications of Darband that were built by the Sasanians in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, were part of the northern limes of the Sasanian Empire, which were extended along the western coast of the Caspian Sea. The city and its defense structures have been crucial for the control of the north-south passage on the west side of the Caspian Sea for the Sasanians against the invasion by the nomadic peoples. One of the most important duties of sp’hbed of the North and his forces was to guard these fortifications against the raids of nomads to Sasanian domain. Payment for the high expenses of maintaining these fortifications was often included as a term in different peace treaties that were concluded between Khusrow I and the Byzantines. It was only when Khusrow II’s army was defeated by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, Northern invaders were able to move southwards to Darband and to raid provinces of Sasanian Empire.

Paper presenter: Tobin Hartnell (PhD Candidate, University of Chicago), “Transforming Sasanian Fars: A Case Study from the Kur River Basin”
Adams argued that the Sasanian period (AD 224-637) in Iraq represented a seismic shift in planning, construction, and maintenance of irrigation networks but proposed that the Sasanian administration was not heavily involved in the administration of smaller communities. His work relied on archaeological interpretations of the Nahrawãn canal, a massive irrigation network spanning three administrative districts and stretching over 200 km. In contrast, recent survey work in the Korbal District south of Istakhr focused on creating an archaeological history of a rural district. This rural district provides archaeologists the potential to consider the impact of Sasanian administration on comparatively marginal regions. Sometime during the Sasanian period the Korbal District and nearby regions experienced seismic changes to their spatial organization, economic orientation, and security arrangements. This paper will investigate these transformations in reference to the earlier periods of settlement and land use in the area. The structure of Sasanian period settlement is considered and its implications for understanding the organization of the regional economy. The reorganization of regional settlement is paralleled by evidence for the concomitant industrialization of the agricultural economy. These changes in agricultural practice have archaeological correlates that point to major changes in the scale and organization of the irrigation network and in milling practices of the area. Comparisons will be made with both the Sasiana Plain in Khuzestan Province and previous periods in the Kur River Basin, Fars Province. Finally, the recent archaeological survey documented changes to regional security. For the first time, there is archaeological evidence of a regional fortification system that appears to be linked to trade routes centred on Istakhr. A preliminary review of the evidence for this network will demonstrate the results of investigations so far. A comparison to the Diyala Plains reveals the difference in orientation of these two regions. In conclusion, this paper will document the economic and social changes in Sasanian Fars in a rural case study. These changes suggest that the Sasanian administration was very interested in the management and control of rural populations. It will also highlight the significance of changes in settlement, economy, and security during the period.

Paper presenter: Lamia El-Khouri (Associate Professor, Yarmouk University, Jordan), “The Development of Rural Architecture in North Western Jordan from Hellenistic to Early-Islamic Periods, A Case Study of Barsinia”
The archaeological project at the rural village of Barsinia clarified the importance of the site through different ages, particularly, in the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods. The uncovered architectural remains that were of domestic nature were good example of agricultural occupation at the region of northwest Jordan, and clarified at the same time how rural architecture developed through the mentioned periods of occupation. The study showed that architectural structures in Barsinia (rooms and courtyards) are topologically adjacent forming an irregular plan. Such spatial organization characterizes the rural building technique and arrangement, which was very common in northern Jordan and northern Palestine. The structures illustrate a long tradition of domestic architecture that had been probably developed from the Hellenistic to the Early-Islamic periods. Using the same architectural spaces throughout a long period of time could be also an indication to similar social structure and daily activities.

Paper presenter: Ashraf Sayed Mohamed (Associated Professor of Christian Architecture and Art, Faculty of Arts, Sohag University, Egypt), “Civilian Christian Houses in Upper Egypt during the 5th and the 10th Centuries”
For first time, this research will study some survived or excavated civilian Coptic houses dated from fifth to tenth centuries, and it had no relations with any other religious building sall this houses from Upper Egypt only and some owasis parallel to it this paper will try to definite the special types of this kind of houses and descript its architectural plan, design, and decorations, and then we can made a comparison between each other to recognize the similarity and the difference between it and other earlier and later residential buildings from different areas. This study will help us to put a relative date to these houses. This paper also contains some unpublished planes and plates.

Paper presenter: Jordi Vidal (Postdoctoral Researcher, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), “Ugaritic Dimatu, Fortresses and / or Farmsteads?”
The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the function of the Ugaritic dimatu attested in Ugaritic syllabic texts in the Late Bronze Age. An economic meaning (agricultural installations belonging to the palace) has traditionally been granted to them. However, some data leads us to suggest that the dimatu and its personnel had a military function as well. In order to underline this military function textual evidence from Ugarit and other places (Ur, Sippar, Nuzi, Tell Bila, Assur, etc.) together with some archaeological parallels (Tell Fahar, Tell Sabi Abyad, Horvat Rosh Zayit) are revised.

Paper presenter: Gjore Cenev (Program Manager, MKC Planetarium), “Megalithic Observatory Kokino and the Influences of the East Mediterranean and Middle East Culture In 2000 B.C.”
Several thousands years ago, people lived in entire unity and harmony with the nature. Different views of the surrounding world did not exist or in other words, people of those times did not make any distinction between religion and science. Therefore, very frequently, all over the world, sites are found containing some specific characteristics that from one hand suggest religious aspects of spiritual and sacrificing rituals performed, and from the other hand representing observatories for monitoring and marking positions of the celestial objects such as Sun, Moon, Venus, Pleiades, Sirius etc. Megalithic Observatory Kokino is such type of a place, located on the top of the mountain peak, on 1013 m attitude, discovered in 2002. This site is with huge dimensions, and contains magnificently conceptualized and organized area with contents enabling multifunctional usage. Conducted archaeoastronomical analysis has shown that this site encompasses all characteristics of an Ancient observatory, dated in 2000 B.C. In the course of the researches, specially determined observation posts, as well as specially crafted stone markers pointing towards east horizon has been found. They were used to mark the places of the raise of the Sun and the Moon. In addition, on this site a 19 years’ Cycle lunar calendar, as well as calendar for forecasting Sun and Moon eclipses, was developed. In the meanwhile, the role of the stone thrones was also enlightened, as the one of the special marker used for performance of the ritual unification of the King with the God Sun, on the day when the end of the harvest was celebrated. Archaeological researches and excavations have found a huge quantity of terracotta used in the ritual context, especially with the rituals linked with the worshiping of the Earth as Great Mother. Discovery of complete or partial figurines of people and animals with votive character, existence of the entire net of sanctuaries in the wider region with topographic characteristics of peak sanctuaries, organized rituals with fire, as well as the indications of special ritual marking of the first, seventh and the fifteenth day of the Moonrise, confirms the links and influences of the culture in the wider cultural area of the East Mediterranean and Middle East. Lack of written data imposes the need to conduct comparative analyses of the cultures and civilizations that existed in the wider region of that time, which by all means, presents an excellent challenge from practical, theoretical and methodological aspect.