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Between 1922 to 1934, Woolley excavated the Old Babylonian, Ur III, Early Dynastic, and prehistoric layers of the site.
Layard's (18) was an instant bestseller, and fueled the excitement of the European public ancient Mesopotamia.
The early excavations by Layard and Botta at Nineveh, Khorsabad, and Nimrud spawned a series of excavations by other excavators: William Kennet Loftus at Uruk and Larsa, Jules Oppert at Kish, J. Taylor at Ur and Eridu, Victor Place at Nineveh, and Henry Creswicke Rawlinson at Borsippa.
Although the ancient Mesopotamians themselves had a number of terms to describe the geographic environment in which they lived, the term Mesopotamia was first used by Greeks and Romans to describe the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in today’s Iraq.
Scholars today have expanded the definition of the term to include parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran, all tied to a uniquely Mesopotamian cultural sphere.
The technique of wantonly searching for tablets and attractive artifacts for display in a museum was replaced by one which aimed at understanding the development of a site over time, and the context in which material culture was produced.
Much of this change in archaeological standards was the result of the influence of Gertrude Bell, who headed the Iraqi Antiquities Service under the British Mandate, and the formative figure in the founding of the Iraq Museum.
The excitement that accompanied Rich's explorations was followed by the first excavations at Nineveh by Paul Émile Botta in 1842 and Khorsabad in 1843 as the French consul at Mosul.
Not to be outdone by the expanding collection of Mesopotamian antiquities brought to the Louvre, Austen Henry Layard’s excavations at Nimrud, sponsored by the British Ambassador in Istanbul, Sir Stratford Canning, and furnished the British Museum with superb exhibitions of Assyrian reliefs, texts, and sculpture.
His work at Tell al ‘Ubaid and Nineveh, along with that of a German team at Uruk, Stephen Langdon at Jemdet Nasr, Max von Oppenheim at Tell Halaf, Max Mallowan at Nineveh, Arpachiya, Tell Brak, and Chagar Bazar, Ephraim Speiser at Tepe Gawra, Ernst Herzfeld at Hassuna, and Seton Lloyd and Faud Safar at Samarra helped to establish the pottery-based historical sequence of Mesopotamia from the Halaf to the Early Dynastic period.
In the 1930’s the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago under the directorship of James Henry Breasted, sent a team to excavate several sites in the Diyala region of Iraq.
A pioneer of interdisciplinary investigations of the transition to agriculture was Robert Braidwood, whose investigations of Jarmo and other sites along the “hilly flanks of the Fertile Crescent” included analysis of plant remains and animal bones.