Dr. Augusta McMahon, Director; Professor of Mesopotamian Archaeology, University of Chicago 

Resumption of Work at Nippur (adapted from the website)

ISAC’s decades-long archaeological and philological research at Nippur resumed in April 2019 after almost three decades of hiatus. After McGuire Gibson retired in 2018, Abbas Alizadeh was appointed as the director of the Nippur excavations. During the hiatus prior to 2019, all the previous excavation areas had been filled. The dig house had been ransacked, and all the tools and furniture had been looted. The dig house is now restored and furnished, and the necessary tools are purchased. 

Much of Nippur had always been covered with sand dunes, but recently most of the dunes are gone, providing a great opportunity to prepare a new topographic map of the site and to create a GIS database. Because the entire government has been changed after the fall of Saddam Hussein, with new rules and regulations, the 2019 season of excavations was an exploratory one to assess the working conditions and feasibility for major exploration at the site. Accordingly, the work was limited to two areas on the Western mound where monumental Parthian architecture and a small Late Sasanian house were unearthed. In 2020, the expedition expanded to include a geomorphologist, paleozoologist, paleobotanist, and several field archaeologists. 

Augusta McMahon currently serves as the director of the Nippur excavations after her 2022 appointment as Professor of Mesopotamian Archaeology at the University of Chicago. 

Data unification is extremely important to archaeologists, especially those who deal with large and complex sites. OCHRE allows handling many kinds of information, especially textual which will be of utmost importance for the Nippur project’s cuneiform tablets. The OCHRE platform allows a completely digital collection and recording of onsite data, making the analysis and integration of textual and visual data efficient, particularly for online publication. Moreover, OCHRE has friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Dr. Abbas Alizadeh

Director, Nippur Expedition

Ziggurat of Enlil Nippur 2019

Ziggurat of Enlil Nippur 2019


Aerial view of Nippur on the RCC wall

Aerial view of Nippur displayed on the UChicago Research Computing Center’s wall of screens. Drone photography and processing by Andrew Wright, February 2019.