From Mound to Cave – The Delzian Plain as an Economic Landscape

Project directors: Dr. Tobias Helms, PD Dr. Tim Kerig (

The Delzian Plain is a fertile agricultural area in the NW Zagros mountains (Iraqi Kurdistan, Soran District). It is part of the fertile crescent where humankind’s first transition to sedentary lifestyles, to animal husbandry and plant production took place. Later, earliest cities, states and the first empires emerged in the wider region, with the Delzian as an important junction of various kinds of cultural contact.
The joint project of Tobias Helms (Mainz University) and Tim Kerig (CAU Kiel), in close cooperation with Soran University, the Soran Directorate of Antiquities and the General Directorate of Antiquities, focuses on the evolution of the landscape as driven by economic practice throughout the holocene.
Archaeological fieldwork concentrates on two sites:
1) Girda Dasht, the principal settlement of the Delzian plain where the main agricultural production had to take place and
2) the cave Ashkawta Rash which is not only controlling a main access to the Delzian plain, but also opens up the mountain sphere for animal husbandry and transhumance.
The excavations will establish a first typo-stratigraphical sequence. Ethno-archaeological work will help to recognize economic practices taking place within particular parts of the landscape.
(oben) Girda Dasht: The mound shows fortifications and overtops a large suburbium. First soundings and surface material prove occupation from the Prehistoric to the (Post-) Ottoman period (photo P. Serba).
(oben) Ashkawta Rash cave. In a first field season installtions as well as several hundreds occupation layers could be documented (photo B. Waszk).