Utah and the Headwaters of the Colorado River System

In the summer of 2008 I traveled to my research field area in Utah. For the past four years my students and I have been conducting research in the vicinity of the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah. It is one of the most beautiful regions of the United States and has some of the friendliestContinue reading “Utah and the Headwaters of the Colorado River System”

The Temple at Ain Dara – Collapse, Recovery and Innovation

One of the most beautiful places in all northern Syria is the Afrin River Valley with its green and well watered farmland, pastures and orchards. When descending into the Afrin Valley from the high barren mountains to the south it is easy to imagine this as the model for biblical Eden. Situated high on anContinue reading “The Temple at Ain Dara – Collapse, Recovery and Innovation”

When the System Fails – The Dead Cities of Syria

Scattered on the barren limestone uplands of northwestern Syria between Aleppo and Hama lies a startling collection of hundreds of abandoned Roman and Byzantine farms, monestaries and towns.  These are now known as the Dead Cities. They are surrounded by a starkly bare and rocky landscape that extends over many thousands of hectares. During theContinue reading “When the System Fails – The Dead Cities of Syria”

Ancient Water Resource Tools

Water management is an issue that weaves itself throughout Syrian and Mesopotamian history. Irrigation canals and water diversions have a long archaeological and historical record. As one example – royal inscriptions from 2500 to 2350 BC from Mesopotamia relate to how Eannatum the ruler of Lagash extended the Inun water canal and how disputes overContinue reading “Ancient Water Resource Tools”

Crossing the Euphrates

The Euphrates River runs 2700 km through the cradle of middle eastern and western civilization. Its slow course and green fertile banks have nurtured some of the first urban cultures and the famous city of Babylon. The Euphrates rises in Turkey, flows across the arid portion of central and eastern Syria and then enters IraqContinue reading “Crossing the Euphrates”

Farm, Pasture, City and Water

After interviewing a number of scientists at ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas) at Tel Hadya I was struck by the concern about the competition for sparse water resources between the large agricultural sector of the middle east and the rapidly growing and increasingly urbanized human population. With water-mining depleting groundwater resourcesContinue reading “Farm, Pasture, City and Water”

The Tell at Umm El-Marra

About an hour east of Aleppo lies a low tell called Umm El-Marra. From the distance it is an indistinct feature lying in the relatively arid Jabbul Plain. The tell is hot, dry and dusty, On closer inspection it has much to reveal about the early history of northern Syria. Deep below the soft sedimentContinue reading “The Tell at Umm El-Marra”

Spring 2008

Agriculture in Syria is always a game controlled by water scarcity. The boundary between those areas that receive 300 mm of rain each year and can produce wheat arcs across the country from the northern highlands westward and then southward parallel to the coastline. Southeast of that line you can grow some barley and otherContinue reading “Spring 2008”