Drowned Landscapes - The Rediscovered Archaeological Heritage of the Mosul Dam Reservoir


Like natural catastrophes or armed conflicts, resource extraction projects herald the alteration or destruction of natural and cultural landscapes alike. Dam construction is a major threat to cultural heritage in Western Asian archaeology. One event may result in obliterating hundreds of sites, most of which never reappear or do so only sporadically following cyclical water fluctuation. Destruction of sites remains ongoing, necessitating constant assessment of damage and the establishment of strategies of documentation and maintenance. This paper proposes a new paradigm for future safeguarding and, more widely, a new tool for managing contiguous terrestrial and lacustrine cultural zones. It outlines a new set of cost-efficient tools for observing these archaeological localities “emergence patterns” and quickly assessing damage timescales and site areas. As a case study, Iraq’s largest hydroelectric basin, the Mosul Dam reservoir on the upper Tigris, is discussed, as it offers several insights into tackling endemic issues of site recording, monitoring, and threat assessment in a constantly shifting environment. The research has profited from an unexpected drought in 2018 yielding archaeological sites and villages thought forever lost and is informed by new archaeological projects recently undertaken on the eastern bank of the lake.

Bulletin of the American Society of Overseas Research
Andrea Titolo
Andrea Titolo
Research Fellow

My research interests include Settlement Pattern Analysis, Remote Sensing, GIS, and mapping.