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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 November 2016


Gurga Chiya and Tepe Marani are small, adjacent mounds located close to the town of Halabja in the southern part of the Shahrizor Plain, one of the most fertile regions of Iraqi Kurdistan. Survey and excavation at these previously unexplored sites is beginning to produce evidence for human settlement spanning the sixth to the fourth millennia, c. 5600–3300 cal. b.c. In Mesopotamian chronology this corresponds to the Late Neolithic through to Chalcolithic periods; the Halaf, Ubaid, and Uruk phases of conventional culture history. In Iraqi Kurdistan, documentation of these periods—which witnessed many important transformations in prehistoric village life—is currently very thin. Here we offer a preliminary report on the emerging results from the Shahrizor Plain, with a particular focus on the description of material culture (ceramic and lithic assemblages), in order to establish a benchmark for further research. We also provide a detailed report on botanical remains and accompanying radiocarbon dates, which allow us to place this new evidence in a wider comparative framework. A further, brief account is given of Late Bronze Age material culture from the upper layers at Gurga Chiya. We conclude with observations on the significance of the Shahrizor Plain for wider research into the later prehistory of the Middle East, and the importance of preserving and investigating its archaeological record.

Research Article
IRAQ , Volume 78 , December 2016 , pp. 253 - 284
Copyright © The British Institute for the Study of Iraq 2016 

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The Shahrizor Prehistory Project is funded by UCL Qatar and University College London, and was initiated through a grant awarded by the UCL Grand Challenge scheme for Intercultural Interaction. Our sincere thanks to Abubakir O. Zainadin (KRG Directorate General of Antiquities) and Hashim Hama Abdullah (Sulaimaniyah Museum) for their collaboration on this project; to Thilo Rehren, Stephen Shennan, Mark Altaweel, Eleanor Robson, and Hamish de Bretton Gordon for their support and expertise; to Abdlqadir Shadi for sharing his knowledge of local history in the Halabja area; and to the residents of Bakr Awa and Sirwan, without whose enthusiastic participation this project would not have been possible.

In addition to the named authors, core project staff for the seasons reported here included Nadia Knudsen (Finds Manager and Illustrator), Dr. Eleni Asouti (University of Liverpool) and Wioletta McGilvray (Environmental Archaeology), Flavia Ravaioli and Renata Peters (Conservation), Stephanie Emra, Laura Green, Lana Haddad, and Michael Lewis (Excavators and Finds Assistants). We are grateful to them all for their patience, good humour, and many hours of work. Our final thanks go to Simone Mühl, whose pioneering fieldwork and generous collegiality laid foundations for our project; to Karen Radner for the initial impetus to work in Iraqi Kurdistan; and above all to Kamal Rasheed Raheem, Director of Antiquities and Heritage, Sulaimaniyah, for his tireless efforts in support of our expedition, and for his warm hospitality.


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