The Assyrian Empire was the first multinational empire in the ancient near east. By the seventh century it had grown to cover all of Iraq, Syria and the Levant, substantial portions of western Iran and south-eastern Turkey and even, for brief periods, Egypt. In the site of Ziyaret Tepe we have a unique opportunity to explore and document Assyrian rule across the whole of this time span. The site lies on the river Tigris, some 60 km east of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey. Known in antiquity as Tushan, it was an Assyrian provincial capital and garrison town from 882 to 611 BC; as an archaeological site it is of exceptional importance. Sadly Ziyaret Tepe is now threatened with destruction by the floodwaters of the Ilisu Dam. In response to this an international project directed by Prof. Timothy Matney of the University Akron, Ohio, is working to recover as much of this heritage as possible before it disappears forever.
Alongside our American, German and Turkish colleagues the Cambridge University team is a major component of this endeavour. The excavations to date have uncovered the remains of a palace, a major administrative building, the defensive wall with monumental gates and both high and low status housing. The finds have included an archive of cuneiform texts dating to the very end of the empire including a sensational letter written by a military commander during the very process of collapse. Another tablet hints at the existence of a language hitherto unknown.
Notice: Admission to the ISAW Lecture Hall closes 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.
Dr. MacGinnis is a specialist in the archaeology and inscriptions of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, on which he has published extensively. He has worked on sites across the middle east including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan and Cyprus as well as his work in Turkey; he has also worked in India and Pakistan. He is a consultant for UNESCO on the culture of ancient Mesopotamia and has been Field Director of the British Expedition to Ziyaret Tepe since the commencement of the work in 2000.
Event is open to the public