Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Richard L. Zettler


Small polities of marginal borderland regions in the Near East were often pushed and pulled by their far larger neighbors’ political and economic spheres, forced to adapt to their social and environmental situation to thrive and maintain independence. The kingdom of Muṣaṣir, the home to the chief Urartian deity, Ḫaldi, lay in one of these frontier zones in the rugged mountains of northeast Iraq. Despite the significance of the kingdom’s temple for the Urartian kings’ religious ideology, the steep peaks and narrow flatlands of Muṣaṣir’s environs were ill-suited to substantial occupation. In order to locate Muṣaṣir and better understand the settlement behaviors of ancient occupation in the Sidekan subdistrict of Erbil, Iraq, the Rowanduz Archaeological Program (RAP) commenced a series of excavations and a survey in 2013. Excavation of the rural homestead of Gund-i Topzawa provided a dataset to investigate the reasons for settlement in this marginal environment. Synchronizing archaeological data to the Middle Iron Age (1050-550 BCE) Neo-Assyrian campaign texts and illustrations led to broader research questions exploring the factors driving the region’s chronologically limited sedentary occupation and the impact coopting a religious system has on the local polity and its appropriators.This study publishes the ceramic typology, stratigraphic, and architectural findings from the excavations of Gund-i Topzawa and Sidekan Bank, as well as the collected pottery and occupation qualities of surveyed sites in the Sidekan subdistrict (2014-2016). The pottery sequence, structural characteristics, and settlement patterns added to the understanding of the chronological sequence of the northern Zagros Mountains and further confirmed the locational specificity of Muṣaṣir with the Ḫaldi temple’s likely location at Mudjesir. Modeling the Iron Age populace’s ecological adaptations to environmental, social, and political stimuli indicate the interaction of cultural and technology factors first spurred Sidekan’s sedentary occupation in the Late Bronze Age, and the later cooption of Ḫaldi by the Urartian kings led to the area’s subsequent stagnation and contraction as the god’s appropriators declined.

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