Agricultural Landscapes of the Mesopotamian-Zagros Borderlands

Author(s): Elise Jakoby Laugier; Jesse Casana

Year: 2021


This is an abstract from the "Finding Fields: Locating and Interpreting Ancient Agricultural Landscapes" session, at the 86th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Upper Diyala River Region in northern Iraq has long served as a strategic political, economic, and cultural borderland between the Mesopotamian alluvium and the Zagros Mountains. The region is also environmentally complex, encompassing a steep gradient of agroecological zones ranging from irrigated alluvial lowland plains to upland dry farming valleys and mountainous highlands. Thus, from the Neolithic onward, the Upper Diyala has presumably hosted a variety of agropastoral traditions. Yet only the most recent land use features, such as canals, field boundaries, and trackways, are easily resolvable in available satellite imagery. Coupled with regionally poor preservation conditions for macrobotanical remains, we are challenged by limited empirical data for understanding earlier periods of agricultural land use. As part of the Sirwan (Upper Diyala) Regional Project (SRP), this paper draws on a variety of complementary datasets at multiple scales—from historic aerial imagery to phytolith analysis—to systematically investigate this diverse and challenging agricultural landscape. Results demonstrate the necessity of integrated, multiscale approaches for addressing these preservation problems. Additionally, the paper discusses the critical importance of also understanding modern land use and the ongoing challenges of reconstructing ancient agricultural landscapes in rapidly developing, active agricultural zones.

Cite this Record

Agricultural Landscapes of the Mesopotamian-Zagros Borderlands. Elise Jakoby Laugier, Jesse Casana. Presented at The 86th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. 2021 ( tDAR id: 466800)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 26.191; min lat: 12.211 ; max long: 73.477; max lat: 42.94 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 33164