Iraqi-Italian Mission at Abu Tbeirah

Abu Tbeirah


Abu Tbeirah,whose ancient name is still unknown today, it’s a III millennium b.C. sumerian site, located at the sud-eastern suburb of Nasiriyah.

Everything started in 2008,when the minister of Foreign Affairs has financed a project aimed at teaching Assyriology and the History of Ancient Near East to Franco D'Agostino,professor at La Sapienza Univesity of Rome. Thus,in the spring of 2010,an Italian-Iraqi team was granted by the Director of SBAH,Dr M.R. Qays,permission to start excavation campaign on the site of Abu Tbeirah and,in September of the same year,the first survey of the site was carried out; just on this occasion it was decided to have a second more detailed survey in March 2011,which led to the first campaign in January-March 2012. The excavation project was intended as the first step for the normalization of the activities of the SBAH,following the long period of arrest started with the first Gulf War,in 1991.

The Tell is located 7 km south of Nasiriyah,in an oil area konwn as Al-Rafidayn,covering 43 hectares of the area and it is popularly known as "Ibrahim's Mounds","The Hills of Abraham". The site is divided into four sectors from the traces of an ancient canal that ran from the Nord-West to the South-East. We know that the canalization system,in the area to the east of the large and important site of Ur,appeared during the Proto-Dinastic period and disappeared at the end of the Late-Babylon period. Two large canals ran around Ur,one to the north and one to the south of the city; probably the channel to the North continued to the North-East,as was demonstrated by the presence of numerous sites arranged along the continuation of an artificial river,testimony that allowed us to hypothesize a connection between the channel running north of Ur and the one crosses Abu Tbeirah,where the two centers were politically and administratively connected.

The interesting discoveries of the six last campaigns are enlightining about a still dark period of the Civilization Cradle’s history; the Abu Tbeirah’s archeological remains infact are witnessesed of a very strong changment of mesopotamian land, that means the transition from a city-state system to the creation of the first universal empire under Sargon of Akkad in the second half of the third millennium b.C..

In July 2016 we witnessed a unique success for the Iraq country: the inscription in the Unesco World Heritage list of a mixed system of cultural and environmental heritage rappresented by the southern marshes of Iraq,the “Marshlands”,and of the archeological site of Ur,Uruk and Eridu. The combination of these assets so differenti s inherent in the close link that exists between the ecosystem of the marshes,created by the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates,and the culture that developed here in antiquity. Altought the area currently occupied by the Marshland is located to the south-east and the sites are in a desert area,the cultural continuity of evidence have demonstrated the close link between the marshes and the historical development and the daily reality of those ancient cities. The archeological sites stood along canals,natural or artificial, linking them to one another; thanks to the connection and ports, businesses between the cities were very easy,allowing the exchange not only of goods but also of people and ideas. If that is not enough,archeological findings show a strong cultural connection between the Sumerians and the Mada’in, the people who still live at the Marshland today. And from Abu Tbeirah there are many examples: the mats and woven baskets are identical to those still produced by inhabitants of the marshes,like the toys of clay made by children or even the recipes of the culinary tradition as the masgouf or cooked Ethnicity to Tannur.