Within the individual archaeological areas both internal and external to the park, a series of areas have been identified where specific operations are planned for tutelage of the landscape, conservation (the Khinis and Maltai cliffs and rock reliefs – Annex 4), archaeological investigations, geological and/or hydrogeological studies (Annex 3), analysis of slope stability (Annex 2), and cleaning and removal of vegetation, as well as reforestation to shield and protect the natural and archaeological landscape.

As described above, the Archaeological Park is thus a wide-ranging territory comprising zones with diverse functions: archaeological and landscape areas, museums and multimedia structures, functional and managerial areas, recreational areas, and lastly production areas aimed at sustaining the project. The latter include large portions of land dedicated to the green economy and the production and enhancement of local products, areas with photovoltaic panels and the organization of visits based on equitourism.
Visiting the locations on horseback would seem to be one of the best ways to journey through archaeological landscapes and make use of the various productive, recreational and functional structures in this large archaeological environmental park. Visitors thus have the possibility of travelling on long itineraries for tourism, sporting and environmental purposes.
Inside the park, and particularly along the Shifka Valley, other areas of historical interest have been identified that can be reached by means of footpaths and bridleways that will allow visitors to reach the recreational areas, pass alongside the areas reserved for the green economy and typical agricultural products, journey through the many small local settlements and get a panoramic view of the archaeological sites from high ground (Pls. 5.3.1; 5.e.3.4c).
Horse-riding tourism may therefore be considered an important tool for safeguarding the landscape and a resource for the development of sustainable tourism.

The park is limited to the archaeological areas of Khinis, Jerwan, and the Shifka Valley, but is connected through the Multimedia Museum Centre information system to the archaeological areas of Maltai and Bandawai and to other sites identified by future archaeological investigations (Faideh).

One of the primary objectives of the creation of the archaeological environmental park is to help to stimulate the local population’s awareness of the country’s vast historical and cultural heritage, in order to achieve a wider participation in cultural events and a drastic reduction in the many acts of vandalism.

Direct knowledge of the huge, complicated irrigation system must indeed be obtained from a visit to the park’s archaeological areas, and those connected to it, but it may be preceded by the acquisition of prior information by means of procedures of interest to visitors (virtual visits with narrations, video on artistic and technical aspects, visualization of historical events etc.).

The archaeological environmental park’s main scientific and exhibition base will be the Multimedia Museum Centre, with the following sections (5.e.3.2):

    A) Area of culture:

  • Digital Museum where on large screens and by means of 3D models, the various rock reliefs, inscriptions and technical features of the irrigation system will be portrayed, together with general plans of the canal networks, and the location of archaeological areas and new sites.
  •  Archaeological Research Museum with accounts of the various missions that have been conducted from the 20th century onwards, appropriately restored historical photos, drawings made during early investigations and an explanation of the various technological devices incorporated in the finished canal system. The museum will also function as a deposit for any artefacts removed from outdoor locations to ensure their survival, together with survey and excavations finds.
  •  Conference Centre composed of a lecture theatre, rooms for meetings, a book and souvenir shop, cafeteria, toilets, parking areas for tour buses and private cars etc.
  •  Lodgings for students from various parts of the world interested in studying and deepening their knowledge of north Kurdistan’s historical and cultural heritage.B) Recreation Area
  • Entrance, ticket office, information, toilets
  • Cafeteria, book and souvenir shopC) Functional Area
  • Management Centre consisting of administrative offices, hardware for managing and maintaining the GIS and management of the entire museum complex.
  • Surveillance service composed of a group of park wardens equipped with suitable means of transport (horses, electric vehicles, bicycles) able to provide continuous surveillance of the archaeological sites and the various zones of the park in order to avoid possible manifestations of vandalism and to ensure that visits to this great territorial complex are completely peaceful and safe. This will include the monitoring facilities linked to the video cameras mounted in isolated parts of Khinis and Maltai.
  • Greenhouses that will also constitute entrance into the large botanical garden.

The Multimedia Museum Centre with the structures listed above and associated car parks will be located near the Khinis area but will not be directly visible from the site (Pl. 5.e.3.2).

Today the creation of a Museum Centre that constitutes a reference point for the documentation and dissemination of results of archaeological research appears more important than ever. In recent years, thanks to LoNAP’s investigations and territorial reconnaissance, a complex settlement cartography has been created that comprises over 1000 sites in a region with thousands of years of stratification, from the Palaeolithic to the Assyrian kingdom, from Alexander the Great to the Abbasid Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire.

Among the most significant achievements is the reliable identification of the site where in 331 BC the battle of Gaugamela took place, marking the definitive defeat of the Achaemenid Empire and the beginning of Hellenism.

 

This architectural project defines the location and general properties relating to the volumes and surface areas of the cultural, recreational and functional areas of the centre. The construction work might be commissioned or assigned on the basis of an international architectural competition

The conservation of the original landscape is particularly important in the design of an open-air museum. The archaeological remains are often the only evidence of the transformations imprinted by humans on the environment and therefore they can be powerful foci for territorial redevelopment, especially when closely related to the peculiarities of the landscape in which they are inserted.

The main objective of the archaeological park’s design is the reassessment of the archaeological landscape and natural beauties associated with it. Besides the purpose of enhancing Sennacherib’s historical, archaeological and technical enterprise by recovering and enhancing the individual archaeological sites throughout the region, the determining key point of the project is to create a vast swathe of territory that not only contains the archaeological evidence of the king’s achievement, but also constitutes an oasis of greenery and leisure facilities able to strengthen the bonds between the local population and its cultural heritage and natural environment.

Large-scale reforestation measures will be needed to define the boundaries of the park and of the individual areas and to shield archaeological landscapes from modern intrusions. A large botanical garden will revive the vegetation and the essence of the past praised by Sennacherib’s inscriptions – he prided himself on bringing to his territories “… the plants from all over the world!”.

Not far from the Multimedia Centre and the botanical garden an ample area will be dedicated to the contemplation of nature and the archaeological landscape: an extensive “Garden of Peace” rich in water pools and fruit trees, with games for children, leisure facilities and information systems based on multimedia, but also on more direct contact through conferences and meetings, will allow the population to re-evaluate awareness of their cultural heritage and charming landscapes, and develop a more complete integration between the various ethnic groups. “A garden in which people can gather strength and inspiration, a place for calm reflection and individual introspection; a sanctuary accessible to all, nurturing sentiments of peace, joy and healing” (from the “Garden of forgiveness”, Beirut, Lebanon) (5.e.3.4b).

The Khinis area contains numerous especially interesting features that would justify the organization of structured tourist visits.

Creation of a linear tour itinerary (a beaten-earth path bordered by stones) to define the visiting area and distinguish it from study and intervention areas (Pl. 5.e.3.6a).

Installation of a standard information board (Information and Recreation Unit) with a panel in Arabic, Kurdish and English on a vertical stone surface (Pl. 5.e.3.5).

These features should be enhanced and presented to visitors not with unsightly panels subject to wear and tear over time, but by means of leaflets and/or a specific free app for smartphones handed out along with entry tickets. The leaflets and the app should contain a map of the complex and short descriptions of the various attractions, so that visitors will be encouraged to explore the area and seek out the objects of interest

To facilitate visits to a monument that is very extensive but almost lost in an arid landscape under the blazing sun, it will be necessary to consider the possibility of creating an adequate recreational area, protected and screened by trees, from which people can view the aqueduct from a distance and grasp the relationship between this impressive technical work and the surrounding territory. This area could be located half-way up the hill lying to the north-east. Both the access road and the parking areas for cars and buses could be hidden by means of a vigorous reforestation project that could produce the environmental conditions needed to create a nearly invisible belvedere.

An Information and Recreation Unit (coffee shop, bookshop, and souvenir shop) would likewise be shielded from the view of people visiting the monument. Decorative plants and benches (from which the monument can be seen) would make visits more enjoyable (Pl. 5.e.3.7a).

A stopover area built near the monument will enable tourists to get off the electric mini-train and continue on foot to visit it. Leaflets and a smartphone app available at the ticket booth will contain a map of the aqueduct and a description of its most interesting architectural features.

The lovely Gomel Valley, with the river flowing down its centre, connects the two great archaeological complexes of Khinis and Jerwan, and as a tourist attraction would constitute an important element in the Park.

Visible along the right bank of the river, halfway up the hillsides, is the line of the canal, which slopes down gently south-eastwards. At the foot of the valley, the canal turns sharply west, heading for the imposing Jerwan aqueduct. Following its traces (visible at multiple points along most of the valley), one comes upon the remnants of ancient watermills and small aqueducts built to cross minor wadis, and stretches of the canal that were dug right through the bedrock (Pls. 5.e.3.3a; 5.e.3.3b).

From an asphalt road on the left bank of the Gomel it is possible to combine panoramas of the river with views of the many wooded areas, the beautiful surrounding hills, the nearly horizontal line of the canal, and the archaeological structures that have come to light along its way.

The Gomel Valley would thus enable visitors to see parts of the irrigation system that are situated more closely to the canal’s normal route, without running into any major technical problems. An electric mini-train used for in-depth tours of the park might start from Khinis and end at Jerwan, stopping here and there along the valley at stations from which visitors could proceed to specific sites on foot. Another more flexible way of visiting the valley could be created by the establishment of bridleways (see section 5e.8).

  • Placing on the ground of geo-referenced markers at the corners of the core zone polygon.
  • Preparation of maps bearing the geodetic points corresponding to core and buffer zone corners.
  • Provisional clearing of the access route to the rock reliefs in order to allow the transit of material and equipment for conservation work.
  • Installation of a straight section of fence to block the path a short distance from the platform with the rock reliefs.
  • Clearing of the flat area in front of the rock reliefs in order to facilitate the conservation work and make all four carvings completely visible. Installation of an adequate nocturnal lighting system and positioning of video-cameras connected with the Multimedia Museum Centre.
  • Installation of standard information pillar with panel in Arabic, Kurdish and English on a vertical stone surface (Pl. 5.e.3.5).
  • Placing on the ground of geo-referenced markers at the corners of the core zone polygon.
  • Preparation of maps bearing the geodetic points corresponding to core and buffer zone corners.
  • Setting up of an archaeological trekking route that passes through the study areas and by the various identified and catalogued remains (Pls. 5.e.3.9a; 5.e.3.9b).
  • Rebuilding of the cane cabins and arrangement of the bathing area.
icona-working-team

WORKING TEAM

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

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ARCHAEO PARK

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.

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NOMINATION FORMAT

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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