Mapping the City

Gradiometer survey of several city blocks. Coin of King Attembolos

Exploration and recording of the city gained pace during the autumn of 2017, and almost 50 hectares have now been mapped by geophysical prospection. Highlights include the discovery of extensive residential areas laid out on a grid pattern, a series of industrial kilns, and the identification of an Arsacid (Parthian) palace covering some 10,000 square metres.

Pottery found in evaluation trenches suggests that the extant remains at Charax date predominantly from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD. In the course of surface exploration nearly 200 coins were collected, and those identified so far cover the 1st century BCE to the 4th century AD, i.e. the Arsacid period and the first half of subsequent Sasanian rule. The majority belong to the locally produced coinage of the kings of Mesene, who resided in Charax, but other ancient mints are represented too. Several coins from the reign of King Attambelos are previously unknown.

A survey of sites in the surrounding area was also started. Five additional sites were visited and mapped. Our Iraqi colleagues were able to use their newly-acquired skills at the nearby early Islamic port city of Forat, where they completed a drone survey for a digital elevation model and carried out a pilot gradiometer survey to test its effectiveness at the site.

Project wins major funding

Locating buildings with a magnetometer survey

The Charax Spasinou project has been awarded funding by the UK government’s Cultural Protection Fund. The grant will enable us to record the ancient city over the next three years, and  to survey other archaeological sites in the surrounding area.

The Cultural Protection Fund is administered by the British Council, in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. We are thrilled to be chosen for one of these prestigious awards.

Report 2016

This year we started an exciting new project at the ancient city of Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Charax Spasinou, located in Basrah province. The city was founded  in 324 BC by Alexander the Great and later became the capital of the kingdom of Characene and an important trading port. A report on our work, available in English and Arabic, can be read below.
English version           Arabic version