The capitals of the Neo-Assyrian empire appear to be firm examples of cities created as acts of political will, via top-down centralized planning, and with little or no input from their more humble inhabitants. This presentation will argue for a more flexible model that recognizes variability in top-down and bottom-up processes among the Assyrian capitals. Two sources enable a critical assessment. Recent research on provincial capitals has adopted a holistic approach that includes geophysical prospection and the targeting of non-elite residential areas. Satellite-based remote sensing has also opened windows into urban structure. Assyrian cities were highly variable in their morphologies, and these differences can be used to investigate their divergent origins and developmental trajectories. This presentation will review the form and structure of imperial and provincial capitals, with particular emphasis on satellite remote sensing of Nimrud and new topographic data for Qasr Shemamok (the provincial capital Kilizu), now being excavated by the Mission Archéologique Française à Erbil under the direction of Oliver Rouault and Maria Grazia Masetti-Rouault.
submitted 1 June 2012