Resuscitating an Archaeology Project: The Helmand-Sistan Project in Afghanistan, 1971-1977

Author(s): Mitch Allen; William B. Trousdale

Year: 2017


The Helmand-Sistan Project, conducted jointly by American and Afghan archaeologists, was the first prolonged systematic survey and excavation of the lower Helmand River region of southwest Afghanistan. It identified over 200 sites dating from the third millennium BCE to the 15th century CE and conducted excavations at a dozen of them. Military action abruptly halted the project, caused the demise of its collection of material culture stored in Afghanistan, and limited publication to a few focused articles on specific sites and finds. After 40 years, we are now attempting to resuscitate the project and bring it to final publication, increasingly important because of the unlikelihood of further archaeological work in this area in the future. The challenges of doing so without the ability to recheck site details on the ground, without artifacts available for further analysis, and with project members scattered or deceased, will be the topic of this presentation. The paper will also highlight some key findings of the Project, notably in the canal-fed Sar-o-Tar region east of the Helmand River, intensively occupied and farmed only sporadically because of changing climatological and hydrological conditions.

Cite this Record

Resuscitating an Archaeology Project: The Helmand-Sistan Project in Afghanistan, 1971-1977. Mitch Allen, William B. Trousdale. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429859)

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Abstract Id(s): 15978