Erbil History, Archaeology, Arts and Architecture (Session 3)

March 3, 2022

The Assyrian City and its Landscape: Centre, Peripheries, and the People

The relations between urban planning and Assyrian history have often been studied from a philological or an archaeological point of view. The themes connected with the creation of the city or its reconstruction in the Assyrian world, since the beginning of the second millennium BC, are discussed mainly in studies analyzing kingship, and the ideology of kingship, as it is expressed in the royal inscriptions. Assyrian kings are acknowledged as the authors of any important construction, in the city as well as in the landscape. For this reason, urban topography is considered to reflect only their own use of spaces and their interests, also in communication.

In this lecture, presenting our experiences of research studying the site of Qasr Shemamok – the Assyrian town called Kilizu, close to Erbil -, I will try to explain why the perception of the urban landscape simply as the result of a royal project, now often strengthened by the vision offered by satellite pictures, with images produced by remote sensing or by surface surveys, must be exploited in a careful way, using all our critical historical and archaeological knowledge. The narration of the Assyrian royal inscriptions, often coincident with the visual impact of these often powerful images, should not satisfy too easily our interest in the meaning of the urban forms. The new data and documentation can open for us new ways to identify and to understand the different agencies, social situations, economic interests and environmental factors determining the creation, the evolution, and the collapse of urban occupations, and of all the society managing them.

Presented by: Maria-Grazia MASSETTI-Roualt

Short Biography:

Maria Grazia Masetti-Rouault is a professor at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, Chair of “Religion of the Syrian-Mesopotamian World: History and Archaeology”. She is a member of CNRS research team UMR 8167 “Orient et Méditerranée”, and co-director of the Series Etudes Mésopotamiennes-Mesopotamian Studies (Oxford, Archaeopress).

In the period 1997-2010 she has directed the Syro-French archaeological mission in Terqa Region (Lower Middle Euphrates Valley, Syria), and the excavations at the site of Tell Masaïkh. Co-Director of the French archaeological mission at Qasr Shemamok (Erbil region, Kurdistan, Iraq) since 2011, she became its director in 2015.

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Presented by: Mahmood A. Bakr Khayyat, PhD



3 March, 2022 2:00 pm


3 March, 2022 4:00 pm


Civil and Architectural Engineering Department