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The Uruk Mound at Abu Salabikh is a low-lying mound of approximately 10 hectares, located to the south and west of the main Early Dynastic mound and almost directly south of the West Mound (Fig. 1). Nowhere does the mound rise more than three meters above the surrounding land, and it is disconcertingly easy to overlook amidst the canal banks.
Prior to 1985, investigations of the Uruk Mound had been limited to a few soundings and small-scale scraping, by the Oriental Institute team in 1963 (Crawford 1964, 13; Biggs 1974, 5) and T. Cuyler Young assisted by Carl Phillips in 1981 (Postgate & Moon 1982; 1984). This work proved enigmatic, failing to reveal coherent architectural plans. In 1985 it was decided to try some further work on the mound, with several aims in mind. First, we wished to find out whether larger-scale scraping would reveal coherent architectural plans. Second, through surface and sub-surface collections of artifacts we hoped to date the occupation of the mound more precisely. Finally, by locating squares in different areas of the mound, we sought evidence for variation in terms of date of occupation and use of different areas.
A total of 5½ weeks of work was carried out on the mound during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Twenty-eight 10 × 10 m squares were surface collected, and 14 of these were also scraped and their sub-surface artifacts collected and examined (Fig. 2). All of these units were placed judgmentally, with an eye to sampling diverse areas of the mound as well as to expanding the scraping in areas that had well-preserved architecture.