Rivers in the making : the definition of “Nahr” as a hybrid watercourse based on geoarchaeological evidence from Southwestern Iran

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This paper explores a new perspective to study the settlement dynamics of riverine landscapes by addressing human–environment interaction in the Ancient Near East through integration of remote sensing, new geodata, and developing a definition of a new category of a watercourse. The complex and entangled network of watercourses in the archaeologically crucial region of southwestern Iran, the Greater Susiana, hinders a clear view of the spatial relations between ancient settlements and their respective environments. The watercourses are known to be of either natural (rivers) or anthropogenic (canals) origin. However, many current watercourses do not fit into either category, which causes misinterpretations of the archaeological record. This paper introduces a third category, which consists of a hybrid of the two existing categories and suggests using the term “Nahr” to address such watercourses. The author implements this idea to a case study, Nahr-e Atiq, a watercourse in north Susiana, which passes two prominent sites, Abu Fanduweh and Haft Tappeh. Based on the results of a geoarchaeological investigation(including a survey, eight sediment cores, and several soil profiles, as well as 58 known archaeological sites), several hydro-morphologic elements are presented for identifying Nahrs. These include sedimentation, morphology, and physical characteristics. The most crucial aspect is the biography of a Nahr, as these hybrid watercourses might consist of different sections with different genesis. The author argues that Nahr, as defined here, must be considered an artifact, and studied as such in the landscape archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

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Iran, Ancient Near East, Susiana, Geoarchaeology, Ancient watercourses, Nahr-e Atiq
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ISO 690RASHIDIAN, Elnaz, 2021. Rivers in the making : the definition of “Nahr” as a hybrid watercourse based on geoarchaeological evidence from Southwestern Iran. In: Water History. Springer. 2021, 13(2), pp. 235-259. ISSN 1877-7236. eISSN 1877-7244. Available under: doi: 10.1007/s12685-021-00283-7
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@article{Rashidian2021-07River-54178,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1007/s12685-021-00283-7},
  title={Rivers in the making : the definition of “Nahr” as a hybrid watercourse based on geoarchaeological evidence from Southwestern Iran},
  number={2},
  volume={13},
  issn={1877-7236},
  journal={Water History},
  pages={235--259},
  author={Rashidian, Elnaz}
}
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