The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut nĂ©erlandais du Proche-Orient

Jesper Eidem is since 2009 General Director of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (Leiden) and the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (Istanbul), and since 2012 Professor (by special appointment) of the Archaeology of Western Asia at the University of Amsterdam. His main research area is the history and archaeology of Northern Mesopotamia in the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Previous activities

Eidem worked for many years as researcher at the University of Copenhagen, where he completed his PhD in 1992. In 2001-2 he held an appointment in the Danish Cultural Institute in Damascus (Syria), and in 2008-2009 he was Senior Fellow in the Cluster of Excellence “TOPOI” in Berlin.

Eidem has studied and published important archives of cuneiform tablets from Tell Shemshara and Tell Leilan. He is associated with several projects in the capacity of epigrapher: Tell Brak (Syria), Meshirfeh (ancient Qatna, Syria), and the Danish expedition to Failaka (Kuwait).

As archaeologist he has organised and directed fieldwork at sites in Syria and Iraq. From 1993-1999 his team investigated the small Iron Age site of Jurn Kabir (now inundated by the Tishrin Lake), and from 2000-2010 the site of Aushariye, both within the area of the Tishrin Dam Salvage project in Syria. In 2008-9 he conducted preliminary investigations of the Middle Bronze Age fortress Qala’at Halwanji on the Sajour River in Northern Syria (see NINO/NIT Annual Reports 2009 and 2010, below).

Current research

In 2012 Eidem initiated a new field project on the Rania Plain in the Kurdish Region of Iraq. This project is focused on new investigations at the site of Tell Shemshara, briefly excavated by Danish and Iraqi archaeologists 1957-59, and studies of its hinterland (see NINO/NIT Annual Reports 2011 and 2012, below).

The wider framework for many of Eidem’s activities is the research project From Iran to the Euphrates. This aims at a political, geographical, and ideological analysis of an early Mesopotamian empire, which briefly incorporated vast areas across northern Iraq and Syria under the rule of king Shamshi-Adad I (ca. 1833-1776 BC). The rise, organisation, and demise of this transient state is exceptionally well documented in cuneiform sources excavated at a number of sites within its territory. Building on these and other components the project aims at a comprehensive historical and archaeological analysis of the strategies employed by this early attempt at cross-regional state-formation in the Near East, and not least its impacts on local societies.

Selected Publications