Greater Mesopotamia: Reconstruction of its Environment and History

Iran: Lower Khuzestan

Detailed investigations will be undertaken in the area between Khorranshahr and Bandar-e Imam Khomeini. Undisturbed coring will be carried out, the observed sedimentary facies will be studied in the light of the reconstruction of the sedimentary palaeo-environments and incorporated in a stratigraphic framework within the Holocene. The results of the sedimentological work will be complemented by age determination, microfossil and pollen analyses. Specialized European laboratories will undertake these laboratory analyses.

The general chronology can also be inferred from the sea-level history. It is also our aim to collect sea-level index points (altitude and age) as much as possible along the stratigraphic transects as in this area very little data exists enabling a reconstruction of the sea-level history. The sea-level history will also document whether there have been periods of sea-level stillstands or sea-level falls. Besides, the new sea-level data will provide a better insight into the controversial middle to late Holocene sea-level record of the Persian Gulf.

Coastal and incised valley areas are important archaeological sites as they were often preferentially occupied by humans. But as the rising sea level caused vertical aggradation of the related sedimentary environments former occupation horizons were buried and are hitherto unknown. Buried sites in fact form a challenge to archaeologists. Without subsurface investigation they remain hidden. However, knowledge of their presence will provide additional information on the (pre-) history of mankind in this particular area and  contribute to a better assessment of the southern Mesopotamian history and the patterns of human settlement.

Syria: Tell Tweini

The alluvial plain surrounding Tell Tweini has been mapped during the preceding phase on the basis of a dense boring grid. The investigation was restricted to the determination of the lithology and facies characteristics of the sediments, which were carried out in the field. These preliminary results will be further investigated in the context of climatic change and possible impact by human activities. Neotectonic movements will be considered as well, since tectonics could be the stirring factor in the environmental changes. During the field work numerous samples have been taken for further analyses for palynology and microfossils that will be carried out in this phase to refine the preliminary results.

Related publications

Kaniewski, D. et al. Environmental Roots of the Late Bronze Age Crisis. Plos One 8, 1-10 (2013).

Other member(s)
Eric GUBEL (coordinator, RMAH)
Belspo - IUAP 7/14
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