The Rural Landscapes of Iron Age Imperial Mesopotamia project (RLIIM) seeks to understand how imperial polities of ancient Mesopotamia interacted with the landscape via policies of resource extraction, population resettlement, and centralized infrastructure.  So far, the rural hinterlands of the Assyrian Empire have remained largely under-investigated, but have much to reveal about the relationship between Assyrian imperial structure and organic bottom-up growth.


Qach Rresh is a small site (less than 5 hectares) founded in the Neo-Assyrian period in an area without immediate access to water, located just 15km south of modern-day Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan).  It was first recorded by the Erbil Plain Archaeological Survey in 2017, with survey results indicating that it was abandoned after the collapse of the Assyrian Empire.  For what reasons was this site founded?  And why in an area without regular access to the natural water supply?  With the first excavation season conducted in Fall 2022, preliminary understandings of the site have begun to explore these questions.

Geophysical Remote Sensing

Magnetometry conducted at Qach Rresh in 2021 revealed a wealth of unexpected structures, including the remains of a well-preserved building with at least fourteen separate rooms, possibly used for centralized storage of agricultural produce.  The results also showed probable domestic areas, along with several streets and other structures.  This data is critical to the success of the excavations and our wider understanding of the site’s layout as a whole.

Landscape Context

One of the main goals of this project is to understand how the Assyrian Empire utilized rural spaces, and to what extent this was a centralized program of building and infrastructure.  Qach Rresh is the first rural village to be excavated in the Assyrian heartland.  The results will not only help us to understand more about Assyrian settlements as a whole, but also agricultural practices and population organization in imperial spaces.