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New article by Michael Brown on DFG-funded archaeological research in Iraqi Kurdistan at "Rabana-Merquly"



21 July 2022
The mountain fortress of Rabana-Merquly was a major regional centre of the Parthian period (first century BC) in the Zagros Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. The iconography of two rock-reliefs that show an unnamed ruler suggests an association with the vassal kingdom of Adiabene. The exceptional preservation of the fortress's stone walls, undamaged by later agriculture in this highland location, provides an almost complete example of a large, fortified site with two main intramural settlements. Through its ability to control the surrounding landscape, Rabana-Merquly highlights the role of client states on the peripheries of the Parthian and Roman Empires and illuminates the practicalities of territorial control by state authorities in hinterland regions.
The new article in Antiquity provides an up-to-date overview of our current understanding of the site. Its possible identification with the 'lost' city of Natounia, previously only known from its rare coinage, is also discussed. Dr Brown was interviewed by several news outlets about the latest research at Rabana-Merquly with coverage including
Die Welt,
Sky News, and the French magazine
Investigations at Rabana-Merquly led by
Dr. Michael Brown are undertaken in close collaboration with members of the Sulaymaniyah Directorate of Antiquities. Ongoing research is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of the project "
Parthische Oberhoheit und lokale Wirkkräfte im zentralen Zagros-Hochland". Studies of the Rabana-Merquly rock-reliefs were undertaken in 2016 as a part of a wider
project supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation on rock-reliefs in Iraqi Kurdistan. Research at Rabana-Merquly in 2017-18 was funded by a Transcultural Forays Fellowship awarded to Dr. Michael Brown by Heidelberg University’s Centre for Transcultural Studies (Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe"). Fieldwork in spring 2019 was funded by grants from the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq.
For a German language introduction to the project please visit the
Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft website. To read more about the discovery, please see the
press release by Heidelberg University.
The original paper is freely available online through OpenAccess:
Brown, M., Raheem, K., & Abdullah, H. (2022). 
Rabana-Merquly: A fortress in the kingdom of Adiabene in the Zagros Mountains. Antiquity, 1-17. doi:10.15184/aqy.2022.74