Project Overview

November 22, 2013

Each summer, a research team of twenty-five to thirty archaeologists have worked at Ziyaret Tepe conducting excavations, geophysical surveys, artifact conservation, and specialist studies. Extensive preliminary reports of our work have been published regularly and many specialist studies are also available for scholars studying the ancient Near East in general, and the Assyrians in particular.

The ancient mound at Ziyaret Tepe comprises two distinct areas: a high citadel mound seen on the left in the photograph below, and an extensive lower town. The citadel mound rises 22 meters above the surrounding modern agricultural fields and is approximately 3 hectares in extent. The lower town was surrounded by a fortification wall and covers an area of 29 hectares. Our work has explored both the citadel and the lower town and has expanded off-site looking at the regional environment and the impact of the ancient Assyrian city of Tušhan on the upper Tigris River valley.

Fieldwork at Ziyaret Tepe started with three survey seasons in 1997-1999. During those years we created a topographic map, made a systematic surface collection of artifacts in order to better understand the history of the site and started an ambitious subsurface geophysical survey program with the long-term goal of mapping the entire ancient settlement with a variety of instruments. Excavation at Ziyaret Tepe lasted from 2000 to 2013 during which time we undertook two dozen operations ranging in size from a single 5m by 5m square to areas over 2,000 square meters in extent.

Throughout the project, our overall scientific goals have remained consistent. These are: (1) to document the entire Assyrian city in order to better understand how the city functioned in antiquity and the principles of city planning employed at Tušhan; (2) to document the archaeological sequence of occupation in the upper Tigris River valley; (3) to explore the relationship between the Assyrian and indigenous Anatolian populations; (4) to study the impact of urbanization on Late Bronze Age and Iron Age ecology.