By Georges Roux

Newly revised and containing details from contemporary excavations and stumbled on artifacts, Ancient Iraq covers the political, cultural, and socio-economic background from Mesopotamia days of prehistory to the Christian period.

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22 Within Mesopotamia transport from one locality to another was frequently effected by water. The Tigris and the Euphrates formed convenient thoroughfares from north to south, and the larger irrigation canals could also be used as waterways between villages and cities. C. was the ass. Outside Mesopotamia two great roads led in a westerly direction towards Syria and the Mediterranean coast. These roads were, of course, simple desert tracks, for the paved highways which have been found outside the gates of several cities were unlikely to go very far inland.

Another method, in theory perfect, is to divide the surface of the site into squares, dig up each square in turn until a certain depth is reached and start all over again for the second horizontal ‘slice’. The objects found in each square and in each layer are carefully numbered and plotted on maps. As the work goes on, monuments gradually take shape. This very slow and expensive method is rarely used. As a rule, archaeologists prefer what may be called ‘extended sounding’. A certain area is carefully selected on the surface of the tell and a trench dug, but as soon as walls are encountered, they are followed and denuded on both faces until the whole building is unearthed.

As the trenches are deepened, objects such as pottery are collected for dating purposes and a record is made of the floors and segments of walls encountered. This method is obviously imperfect and should only be used for preliminary surveys or for comparatively unimportant sites. A variety of sounding often applied to high and narrow tells consists of cutting a long trench, not on the surface but on the side of the mound from summit to base, just as one cuts into a Christmas pudding. An impressive series of occupation levels can be detected in this way, though it is practically impossible to circumscribe any building.

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Ancient Iraq: Third Edition by Georges Roux
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