On the 15th of March the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq had the pleasure to welcome Dr. Jesper Eidem. Dr. Eidem was for many years attached to the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) as researcher and Associate Research Professor. Since 2009 he is General Director of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (Leiden) and the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (Istanbul), and since 2012 Professor (by special appointment) of the Archaeology of Western Asia at the University of Amsterdam. His main research area is the history and archaeology of Northern Mesopotamia in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
His lecture was about the Dokan Dam project, a very special archeological project that he learned about because his teacher was involved in it in 1956-1960. The Dokan Dam on the Lower Zab River in northeastern Iraq, was the first in a series of dams constructed in Iraq; because of the dams a new lake, the Dokan Lake, would be created. This would mean the area would be inaccessible for archeological resaerch. Teams of young Iraqi archaeologists were sent to this remote corner of the country to investigate as much as possible before it was too late!
A single foreign team joined the Iraqi archeologists in their efforts. This team came from Denmark, and was directed by the late Professors H. Ingholt and J. Læssøe. By a stroke of remarkable luck this team made an important historical discovery: an archive of nearly 150 clay tablets, inscribed in the Mesopotamian cuneiform writing, and nearly 4000 years old. The main part of the archive consisted of the diplomatic correspondence of a local nobleman, and reveals in dramatic detail an international struggle for control of the region.
The lecture summarized the results of the Dokan project, and specifically focused on the events described in the archive excavated by the Danish team at Tell Shemshara, now partially inundated by the Dokan Dam. Remarkably, because of several reasons recently the area that was investigated all those years ago has risen from the water again! Therefore it will be possible for Professor Eidem to go back to this site later this year and see if there are more archeological remains to be added to those already found.