The Imperial Landscape of Ashur: Settlement and Land Use in the Assyrian Heartland
The Assyrian capitals of Nineveh, Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Ashur were the most important cities of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Historical and archaeological sources indicate significant investments by the Assyrian state on these capitals during the Neo-Assyrian period. Not only were these cities a focus during this period, but the landscape surrounding them was transformed by policies and actions taken by individuals and the state. Despite the significant influence the Assyrians had on their landscape, much of the region surrounding the Assyrian capitals has never been significantly studied and published. Mark Altaweel investigated anthropogenic transformations of the physical landscape surrounding the Assyrian capitals, using remote sensing sources. In his book he uses satellite data, including CORONA, ASTER, and elevation data to locate and analyze archaeological sites, hollow ways, and irrigation features. Features recovered from remote sensing data are studied together to better reconstruct the archaeological landscape. The relationship of these features to the physical landscape is investigated using coupled agent-based social and mathematical ecological models (i.e. socio-ecological modeling). Socio-ecological modeling enables more rigorous estimates on the potential of archaeological features affecting landscape dynamics than other analytical methods. The results obtained by this work show that the Neo-Assyrian central region was exceptional in contrast to other areas and contemporary landscapes. Methods and outputs from this research are relatively new in Near Eastern archaeology in combining remote sensing data with socio-ecological modeling. More broadly, the remains and outputs produced from studying the Assyrian capitals' landscape can provide a significant amount of data for future studies and serve as a model for other empires with similar central regions of political and economic activities.
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