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Greater Mesopotamia

Imaging Phoenician coins at the Royal Library of Belgium

Field Work Posted on Mon, October 09, 2017 08:34:12

At the end of the Summer, Vanessa Boschloos continued the PLD imaging sessions at the Coin Cabinet of the Royal Library of Belgium, initiated in December 2015. The collection comprises nearly 40 Phoenician coins of the Persian Period, assigned to the city-states on the Phoenician coast (Arwad, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre) or on Cyprus.They are almost exclusively made of silver, but also include a handful of gold and bronze pieces. The coins were recorded on both sides. This initiative is related to the inventory of Phoenician antiquities in Belgium made by, among others, Eric Gubel and Vanessa Boschloos in the framework of the project Corpus des Antiquités phéniciennes et puniques of the International Union of Academies ( for more information on the Corpus).

Integrated in the last imaging session was the recording of a neo-Babylonian amulet with inscription, which will further be studied by Véronique Van der Stede.

Vanessa, Hendrik and Véronique thank the team at the KBR, especially Christian Lauwers, Johan Van Heesch and François de Callataÿ, for making these objects available and preparing them for the imaging sessions, and for all the support given during these 7 days.

Network’s 2017 annual meeting

Activities Posted on Tue, September 19, 2017 15:24:49

The final annual meeting of IAP7/14: Greater Mesopotamia: Reconstruction of its Environment and History took place on Monday 18th of September at the Royal Museums of Art and History.

With 19 participants including 4 PhD students, 7 postdoctoral researchers and 8 senior researchers representing 5 network partners and 5 nationalities, the final annual meeting of the GMREH network was centered around presentations of each partner’s main activities and research results for 2012-2017, and the – in the meantime traditional – ‘oriental lunch’.
This allowed us to catch up on each others current and future projects, and have a short walk down memory lane with a presentation of highlights and memorable moments of the past five years, in the fields of mapping and surveying, archaeology, historical geography, history and chronology, and imaging.

… And we did it OUR way…

The RMAH glyptics team ROCKS!

Activities Posted on Mon, June 23, 2014 15:52:36

A training
session on the identification of stones used in the manufacture of cylinder and
stamp seals took place at the RMAH on Thursday June 19th. The
training was organized by and aimed at the young researchers working on the
Antiquity Department’s glyptic collections, and quickly joined by other
colleagues from the department.

Geologist Thierry De Putter of the RMCA was
invited to share his expertise and kindly offered to present an overview of the
rocks and minerals we generally encounter in museum collections.
By taking a
closer look under the microscope at a selection of objects, particularly a
number of cylinder seals in various dark-coloured stones dating from the
Djemdet Nasr and Akkadian periods, the GMREH’s glyptic team discovered the
subtleties in distinguishing between stones that, at first glance, look very

Christmas gift: looking for inspiration?

News Posted on Wed, December 11, 2013 11:55:12

recently published a new album in the ‘Voyages
‘ series, dedicated to ancient Babylon!

Martin’s hero Alix guides us through the city, with its Hanging Gardens, colorful
Ishtar Gate, impressive temples and palaces… But we also get the opportunity
to visit ancient Assur, Khorsabad and Ninive.

The very detailed drawings by the hand of Jean-Marie Ruffieux and the
accompanying texts by art historian Anne Deckers make it all come to life.
And as the proverbial icing on the cake, we are treated to an enthusiastic
preface by our own Eric Gubel!

Syrian heritage at risk

News Posted on Fri, August 09, 2013 12:07:03

Syria has six UNESCO
World Heritage Sites: Palmyra, Damascus, Bosra, Aleppo, the ancient Villages of
Northern Syria, and the crusader castles Crac des Chevaliers and Saladin’s
Castle. Some of the oldest cities in the world are located in Syria and a great
diversity of civilisations left their mark.
GMREH had to move its
archaeological activities to other regions, but its researchers continue their
work on the material culture, archaeology, epigraphy and history of ancient

Here are some reports
and columns published online, for those who want to know more about
the threats to Syria’s heritage:

recently published its Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk, to
illustrate the categories of cultural goods protected by legislation
and most vulnerable to illicit traffic. The list was established with the
help of experts and institutions, including the RMAH. It is available for
download at:

– For a column by
IAP-researcher Klaas Vansteenhuyse (KU Leuven) on Syrian heritage in danger in Knack
magazine (August 2013) [in Dutch], see:

– In March 2012, Le
Vif/L’Express magazine interviewed Belgian archaeologists Marc Lebeau (ECUMS –
Tell Beydar excavations), Eric Gubel (RMAH – Tell Kazel excavations) and Didier
Viviers (ULB – Apamea excavations) on Belgian archaeological activities in Syria [in French]:

– For a report on damaged
sites (dated May 2012) by Emma Cunliffe (Durham University), see:

– More links on:

Excavations in Tyre (Lebanon), summer 2012

Excavations Posted on Tue, December 04, 2012 11:27:15

The Phoenician temple of Sector 7

In view of the
political situation in Syria and the temporary shutdown of the excavations at
Tell Kazel, the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut moved
its archaeological activities to southern Lebanon in 2012, where Leila Badre was
assigned a new project by the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities. The
continued collaboration with the RMAH ensured that the Belgian component of the
Archaeological Mission of Tell Kazel (Eric Gubel and Vanessa Boschloos) joined
the new excavations, in the city of Tyre. Originally an island, this ancient
Phoenician port city was connected to the mainland by a causeway constructed by
Alexander the Great during his siege of the city in 332 BCE. The site is known
for its Roman ruins, particularly a hippodrome that was inscribed on UNESCO’s
list of World Heritage Sites in 1984.

The aim of the
2012 excavation campaign was to reach the pre-Hellenistic levels in a sector
located on the island site of ancient Tyre, Sector 7. The unexpected presence of
an already excavated building at the site was due to the loss of all records of
a 1970s campaign conducted by Emir Maurice Chehab in this sector. Nevertheless,
during the 2012 excavations soundings were carried out inside the structure and
in the adjacent units, to gather the little information that could still be
recovered. The architecture, the pottery assemblage and an animal bone pit
inside the structure point towards a temple, consequently representing one of
the oldest cultic structures unearthed in Tyre thus far. It has a surface of at
least 160 m² and its northern part consists of a podium on which an altar is
erected with a height of 1.60 m. It is topped by a large monolithic bloc of
limestone. The level of groundwater in Sector 7 (at 0.75 to 0.95 m above sea
level), however, did not allow excavating to bedrock but the results of the
soundings, together with an analysis of the pottery finds and the architectural
remains, allowed postulating a late Persian-Hellenistic date for this

See also: press releases and a short video of the excavations.