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The land of Sumer and Akkad. Reconstruction of its environment and history

Research project P5/14 (Research action P5)

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Description :

This proposal aims to build upon the former IAP projects "The Land of Sumer and Akkad": Reconstruction of Its Environment and History (IAP phase II/34 and IV/25), taking into account the positive evaluation and recommendations made by the ex-post evaluation commission and the conclusions of the expert panel on the IUAP program in general.

The objective of the project is a new interpretation of the complex historical evolution of the Mesopotamian alluvial plain, the ancient lands of Sumer and Akkad. To this end, one of the priorities is to assess the interaction of the ancient environment with the populations of Mesopotamia and the development of their social, political, and economic institutions over time.

In order to present a picture of the world's oldest civilizations, a synthetic treatment is necessary from a varied and extensive array of data coming from different disciplines, i.e. geo-sciences, archaeology, philology and history. Human responses to and human impact upon the changing environment will be investigated, documented and monitored from the early stages of mans history. The Mesopotamian alluvial plain indeed offers the unique advantage of a very early written documentation coupled with an archaeological record, both extending virtually without interruption over five thousand years. These two sets of data will be studied in conjunction with data from the earth-sciences in order to obtain a multi-faceted and evolving image of man and his environment.

The collection and integrated interpretation of such diverse data can only be achieved by an interuniversity research unit of experts, working across-discipline with a common data-gathering, data-analysis and data-management structure and thereby exploiting or applying the newest scientific and technical developments and infrastructures in various fields. It must be stressed that the originality and the force of this project is precisely situated in the synthesis between alpha and beta sciences.

Synergy has grown during the latest Phase IV of the project and the aim is to intensify and stabilize this expertise and research capacity into a new interuniversity research infrastructure which should underline its role in the future as an active participant in the European research space.

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