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Σάββατο, 26 Φεβρουαρίου 2011

Iraq: Ancient cities sprung from marshes

For more than a century, archaeologists have believed that ancient Mesopotamian cities – places like Uruk and Ur – were born along the banks of the great rivers of the Middle East and depended mainly on irrigation of surrounding deserts for their survival.

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle, a research assistant professor in the School of the Environment at the University of South Carolina, has a different theory. She believes that the great cities of southern Iraq grew and thrived in vast lowland marshes fed by those rivers, not along the banks of rivers themselves.
Last fall, Pournelle led the first American research team of to visit Iraq in more than 25 years. And what she and her colleagues found has caused the start of a shift in thinking about how ancient urban landscapes evolved.

Clearly, the earliest cities were not strung out along rivers like pearls on a strand. Rather, they were spread across the river delta within and along the margins of marshlands,” said Pournelle, who combines excavation records and archaeological site maps with aerial and satellite imagery, in order to reconstruct ancient environments.