The Rivers of Mesopotamia

Borkowski, Sebastian Georg; Rutishauser, Susanne Muriel (3 June 2021). The Rivers of Mesopotamia (Unpublished). In: Sumer & the Sea Deltas, Shoreline and Urban Water Management in 3rd Millennium BC Mesopotamia. virtual conference. 2.-4.06.2021.

Throughout the millennia, the physical landscape of the Mesopotamian alluvial plain has altered continuously due to ever-shifting rivers and periodic flooding, as well as human endeavors to secure prosperity and meet the economic needs of growing populations in a semi-arid climate. The topography of the alluvial plain still bears witness of the close entanglement of these past natural and anthropogenic processes. Spatial patterns of archaeological sites indicate long-gone watercourses. And the construction of canals, the maintenance of dams, inland navigation routes, etc. are well documented by cuneiform texts from different periods. Over the last six decades, archaeologists, geoscientists, and cuneiformists have contributed pathbreaking studies on the reconstruction of Mesopotamia’s ancient riverscapes. However, there remains an enduring demand for further basic research — especially in light of new technologies and today’s standards for accessible and reusable digital data. Thus, in January 2019 the research project «Rivers of Mesopotamia» (RIMES) started at the University of Bern with the aim of displaying the various and heterogenous data on former river systems in Lower Mesopotamia in interactive and dynamic web-maps and network visualizations. With this in mind, our research mainly focuses on remote sensing and mapping of paleochannels and network analysis of rivers and canals in historic text sources (primarily from the Ur III period). By including data on settlement occupation from published surveys and linking the respective geo-spatial, temporal and semantic data with one another, we pursue a holistic approach to improve the knowledge on the dynamic layout of the riverscape of ancient Mesopotamia. Our paper outlines the methodology of the «Rivers of Mesopotamia» project and provides an initial insight into the current state of our research.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Near Eastern Archaeology

UniBE Contributor:

Borkowski, Sebastian Georg, Rutishauser, Susanne Muriel


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




Susanne Muriel Rutishauser

Date Deposited:

22 Apr 2022 10:38

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:18


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