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Department of Archaeology


The Assyrian Empire was the first multinational empire in the ancient near east. By the seventh century BC it had grown to cover all of Iraq, Syria and the Levant, substantial portions of western Iran and south-eastern Turkey and even, for brief periods, Egypt. In the site of Ziyaret Tepe we have had a unique opportunity to explore and document Assyrian rule across the whole of this time span. The site lies on the river Tigris, some 60 km east of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey. Known in antiquity as Tushan, it was an Assyrian provincial capital and garrison town from 882 to 611 BC; as an archaeological site it is of exceptional importance. In 1997, in response to the threat posed by the reservoir scheduled to be created by the building of the Ilisu Dam, an international expedition, directed by Prof. Timothy Matney of the University of Akron (Ohio), commenced work at the site. Fieldwork took place at the site every year from then till 2014. The operations in the lower town, directed by Dr. John MacGinnis of Cambridge University, uncovered the defensive wall, a monumental gates, a major administrative building and a  section of barracks. The finds included an archive of cuneiform texts dating to the very end of the empire including a sensational letter written by a military commander during the very process of collapse. The project is now in the post-excavation phase of operations, with a focus at this point on writing up the first of the two lower town volumes.


Ziyaret Tepe Archaeological Trust

Team Members

Prof. Timothy Matney (University of Akron)

Project Tags

Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Material Culture
Periods of interest: 
Iron Age
Geographical areas: 
Mesopotamia and the Near East
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Assyriology and Mesopotamian Languages
Epigraphy & Paleography
Assyriology and Mesopotamian Archaeology
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