Mapping Patterns of Long-Term Settlement in Northern Mesopotamia at a Large Scale

Citation:

Bjoern H Menze and Jason A Ur. 2012. “Mapping Patterns of Long-Term Settlement in Northern Mesopotamia at a Large Scale.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Publisher's Version Copy at https://j.mp/2pbN5vS

Abstract:

The landscapes of the Near East show both the first settlements and the longest trajectories of settlement systems. Mounding is a characteristic property of these settlement sites, resulting from mil­lennia of continuing settlement activity at distinguished places. So far, however, this defining feature of ancient settlements has not received much attention, or even been subject of systematic evalu­ation. We propose a remote sensing approach for comprehensively mapping the pattern of human settlement at large scale and establish the largest archaeological record for a landscape in Mesopotamia, mapping about 14,000 settlement sites – spanning eight millennia – at 15 m resolution in a 23,000 km2 area in north-eastern Syria. To map both low-and high-mounded places – the latter of which are often referred to as “tells” – we develop a strategy for detect­ing anthrosols in time series of multi-spectral satellite images and measure the volume of settlement sites in a digital elevation model. Using this volume as a proxy to continued occupation, we find a dependency of the long-term attractiveness of a site on local wa­ter availability, but also a strong relation to the relevance within a basin-wide exchange network that we can infer from our record and 3rd millennium BC inter-site routes visible on the ground until recent times. We believe it is possible to establish a nearly compre­hensive map of human settlements in the fluvial plains of northern Mesopotamia and beyond, and site volume may be a key quantity to uncover long-term trends in human settlement activity from such a record.

Notes:

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See also: Tell Brak
Last updated on 03/06/2021