With regard to the project “Terra di Ninive, conservazione e valorizzazione del patrimonio culturale del Kurdistan Iracheno” [Lands of Nineveh: conservation and development of Iraqi Kurdistan’s cultural heritage], and as part of the preparatory work sustained by MIBACT for the inclusion of Sennacherib’s hydraulic system in the UNESCO World Heritage List, Arch. Roberto Orazi1, associate of the “Istituto per le Tecnologie Applicate ai Beni Culturali (ITABC-CNR)” [Institute for Technology Applied to Cultural Heritage (National Research Council)], as director of the archaeological and environmental park planning team that will draft the basis for the WHTL Management Plan, visited Kurdistan in August 2018 in order to establish the architectural, geological and hydraulic characteristics of the Khinis and Maltai archaeological areas in preparation for the drafting of the conservation project for the low-relief carvings preserved there.

Arch. Orazi was accompanied by the undersigned geologist Dr Stefano Palpacelli2, freelance professional and lecturer in the Dept. Applied Geology of the University of Ancona, and responsible for the geological data and hydrogeological analyses given below.
The study’s objectives were to identify and analyze any critical situations present regarding the local rock faces, and to determine the hydrogeological features of the surrounding area. Its purpose was to formulate a preliminary hydrogeological model so as to understand the relationship between the surface and underground water present and its possible interactions with the cliffs and – especially – with the rock carvings and archaeological areas of Khinis of Maltai (Fig.1).

A further important aim was to establish the conditions under which the bluffs and carvings may be considered stable, with regard to their preservation states, and the drafting of a project for conservation treatment of them and development of the sites.
The investigations were conducted in the period 19th – 27th August 2017. This report gives the results of the hydrogeological studies, whereas the geomechanical properties of the rock faces and rock carvings are discussed in another specific report (“Analisi geomeccanica e valutazioni delle condizioni di stabilità delle pareti rocciose di Khinis e Maltai”, S. Palpacelli & E. Di Luzio, December 2017) [Geomechanical studies on, and evaluation of the stability conditions of the rock faces at Khinis and Maltai].
It is however necessary to point out that in addition to the inevitable logistical difficulties, we have had the following operational difficulties:

– absence of geological maps of the area;
– absence of information regarding the regional geology and in particular about the specific area;
– absence of relevant maps in an appropriate scale for the surrounding area.

1- Rome and Province Order of Architects, n° 2153.
2- Marche Region Order of Geologists, n° 355.

Information regarding the planning of this archaeological park furnished by the ITABC – photogrammetric surveys of the carvings and rock faces, and maps based on rectified photographs derived from UAV surveys – was used for the study and the preparation of this report.

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The first phase of the methodological path consisted of the acquisition of the cartographic documentation relating to the archaeological complex…




The project is aimed at the conservation of cultural heritage and the strengthening of the local economy through the creation of an Archaeological Environmental Park.




Sennacherib’s irrigation system was built by the Neo-Assyrian ruler to bring water to his new capital, Nineveh, and to irrigate its hinterland.


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