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News Release 11-066

Archaeologists Investigate Iraqi Marshes for Origins of Mesopotamian Cities

Researchers conduct first U.S.-led archeological survey inside Iraq in 20 years

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Photo of girl in boat and the words Photo Gallery.

Explore the marshlands-turned-desert that is giving archaeologists insight into the earliest modern civilizations in this photo gallery.

Credit: National Science Foundation


Dr. Jennifer Pournelle, a research assistant professor in the School of the Environment at the University of South Carolina believes the great cities of southern Iraq grew and thrived in the vast lowland marshes of Mesopotamia. Here she uses a common reed found in South Carolina to discusses life in ancient Iraq.

Credit: University of South Carolina


Short interview with Washington University in St. Louis professor and geoarcheologist, Jennifer R. Smith, PhD, after she returned from an expedition to study the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in Iraq. The marshes were drained in 1991 to punish the Marsh Arabs for participating in a Shia uprising against the government of Saddam Hussein.

Credit: Clark Bowen, Washington University in St. Louis public affairs