Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Brown auditorium
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
A lecture by John McGinnis
The Assyrian Empire was the first multinational empire in the ancient Near East. By the seventh century it had grown to cover all of Iraq, Syria and the Levant, parts of western Iran and south-eastern Turkey and even, for brief periods, Egypt. The site of Ziyaret Tepe provides a unique opportunity to explore and document Assyrian rule across the whole of this time span. The site lies on the river Tigris, some 60 km east of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey. Known in antiquity as Tushan, it was an Assyrian provincial capital and garrison town from 882 to 611 BC; as an archaeological site it is of exceptional importance. In this lecture, organized by the Art of the Middle East Department, Dr. John MacGinnis of the University of Cambridge, MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research discusses the archaeological project at Ziyaret Tepe now threatened with destruction by the floodwaters of the Ilisu Dam. The excavations to date have uncovered the remains of a palace, a major administrative building, the defensive wall with monumental gates and both high and low status housing. The finds have included an archive of cuneiform texts dating to the very end of the empire including a sensational letter written by a military commander during the very process of collapse. Another tablet hints at the existence of a language hitherto unknown.