The Uruk Countryside: The Natural Setting of Urban Societies Robert McC. Adams and Hans J. Nissen

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The archaeological reconnaissance furnishing the substantive data for this study was conducted over a four and one-half month period during the winter and spring of 1967. It had its inception in a discussion between Professor Heinrich Lenzen, then director of the Baghdad Abteilung of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut, and Dr. Henry T. Wright, who at that time was conducting a reconnaissance and soundings in the region around ancient Uruk—modern Warka—where for many years the Deutsche Archäologische Institut has sponsored one of the most far-sighted and comprehensive programs of excavation yet developed in the Middle East. Other commitments led Dr. Wright to demur from conducting such a reconnaissance himself, whereupon the initiative fell to me.

From the outset, this study was conceived not as a repetition of survey approaches previously employed in other areas but as a further elaboration of them. Since Warka lay near the lower end of the alluvium, it was to be expected that the remains of early periods would be substantially less masked by later settlements and alluviation deposits than were similar remains farther north. Hence it seemed likely that settlement and irrigation patterns might be investigated in considerable detail even for as early a period as the late fourth and early third millennia, a time during which Uruk emerged as one of the oldest and largest of Mesopotamian urban centers. To this end, a program was envisioned that would extend over a considerable span of years. The first step was to have been a wide-ranging reconnaissance of the kind reported here, in which systematic coverage was sacrificed for knowledge of the larger geographic setting. From that point onward, plans were projected for detailed studies of the hydrology and ecology of portions of the ancient irrigation system. Also contemplated were further, more systematic resurveys aimed at small areas and particular problems, and ultimately test soundings in representative early sites.

  • The Uruk Countryside: The Natural Setting of Urban Societies
  • Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972
  • ISBN: 0-226-00500-3
  • Pp. x + 241; 83 figures, 2 chronological charts
  • Paperbound 8.5 x 11.25 in
  • $15.00