Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
The history of Assyria involved a long, non-linear process of territorial expansion, which started in the second millennium BC and was sustained by an ideology of universal conquest that culminated during the first millennium BC in the formation of what became the first global empire in history. Assyrian royal elites narrated the empire through a rich written, iconographic and architectural documentation that was unearthed by archaeological excavations conducted in the capital cities of Assyria from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. As a consequence of these discoveries, archaeological research in Assyria has adopted since its inception a top-down approach focused on the enormous capitals and provincial centres of the empire, their monumental public architecture, archives and figurative art. In the reconstruction of the Assyrian Empire’s formation during the second and first millennia BC and its organization, the evidence from rural areas and non-elite contexts has so far not been used to its full potential.
Building on this perspective, the presentation will discuss the most important results of the University of Udine’s “Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project” in present-day northern Iraqi Kurdistan. The project has been designed to investigate the landscape of the core region of the Assyrian Empire, in Nineveh’s hinterland, by means of an archaeological survey based on modern methodological approaches and the extensive use of remote-sensing and digital technologies. The talk will follow the formation of the Assyrian landscape in the piedmont plains east of the Tigris through the Old and Middle Assyrian periods and illustrate to what extent the rural environment of the empire’s centre was transformed during the Neo-Assyrian epoch by the introduction of new settlement policies, agricultural development and demographic changes, the building of great hydraulic infrastructures, and the ideological construction and commemoration of a newly created imperial landscape.
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi is Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Udine and director of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Assyria (Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project, Iraq).
De Veenhof-lezing werd in mei 2002 in het leven geroepen, naar aanleiding van het afscheid van professor Klaas Veenhof als hoogleraar talen en geschiedenis van Babylonië en Assyrië aan de Universiteit Leiden. De lezing wordt jaarlijks georganiseerd door het NINO en het RMO.