By Georges Roux
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Additional info for Ancient Iraq: Third Edition
Meissner (Babylonien und Assyrien, Heidelberg, 1925) and L. Delaporte (La Mésopotamie, Paris, 1923), excellent in their time and still very useful, though on many points outdated, have never been replaced. Instead, the French and Germans and, to a lesser extent, the British have given us, in more recent years, vast syntheses embracing either the whole of Western Asia or the entire Near East (Egypt included), or even the totality of the ancient world. E. Meyer's Geschichte des Altertums (1913 – 37), H.
In the north-western part of Mesopotamia, beyond the thin ridges formed by Jabal ‘Abd-al-Aziz and Jabal Sinjar and up to the foot of the Taurus, the plain called by the Arabs al Jazirah, ‘the island’, spans the 400 kilometres which separate the Tigris from the Euphrates. The many streams which converge and form the rivers Balikh and Khabur, affluents of the Euphrates, are spread like fans over this region, while the more than adequate winter rains are supplemented by a vast and superficial water-table fed by the snows of the nearby mountains.
In archaeology, generally brief but fruitful international ‘rescue excavations’ have been carried out on some 140 tells, prompted by the building of three main dams on the Euphrates, the Tigris and one of its tributaries, radically altering our evaluation of prehistoric periods in particular, whilst digging was started, resumed and/or extended on such well-known sites as Mari, Isin, Larsa, Tell el-Oueili, Uruk, Tell Brak, Abu Salabikh and Sippar, to mention only the main ones. At the same time, Assyriologists were busy deciphering the inscriptions discovered in these excavations as well as revising and re-publishing hundreds of texts partially or inadequately published long ago, thereby modifying and improving our knowledge of the political, socio-economic and cultural history of ancient Mesopotamia.