Mapping the City

Gradiometer survey of several city blocks. Coin of King Attambelos

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.