Digging in the Land of Sumer: Archaeological Excavation, Study and Enhancement of the Site of Tell Zurghul, Ancient Nigin (Iraq)

Proponente Davide Nadali - Professore Associato
Sottosettore ERC del proponente del progetto
Componenti gruppo di ricerca

The project deals with the archaeological exploration of the ancient city of Nigin, modern Tell Zurghul, in Southern Iraq (Dhi Qar Province). The city is well known in cuneiform texts dated to the Early Dynastic and Neo-Sumerian Period (from the second half of the 3rd millennium BC). The Sumerian city was an important religious centre: indeed, during the kingdom of Gudea of Lagash, Nigin was the city of the goddess Nanshe and it was mainly important for the existence of an imposing temple that was, according to Gudea's own words, like a "mountain rising above the houses/the water".
According to the accounts of the explorers of the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, the entire area was characterised by marshes and the site of Tell Zurghul could sometimes be reached only by boat.
The ancient environment of the area was also characterised by the rich presence of artificial canals, principally coming from the Tigris; the ancient city, at least in the late 6th and in the 5th millennium BC, actually rose up next to the sea with marine incursion leading to formation of a (freshwater) inner delta in the "heartland" basin and freshwater lagoon. This special environmental condition surely affected and favoured the process of the urbanization, marshes and canals were waterways of communication as well as the primary dietary protein source was dried fish (fish was also regularly consumed and used in religious offerings and banquets).
For these very special conditions and features, the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) has recently ranked the site of Tell Zurghul among the top 5% archaeological sites: according to the evaluation and assessment of the Iraqi SBAH Tell Zurghul as well as the area of the ancient state of Lagash deserves the highest attention by future archaeological explorations since the site is part of the on-going promotion of nominating of the Iraqi marshes to the Global Heritage List of UNESCO.

SH6_1, SH6_3, SH6_5

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