This site uses technical, analytics and third-party cookies.
By continuing to browse, you accept the use of cookies.


Header, site navigation

From the center of the empire. New archaeological discoveries of the University of Udine in ancient Assyria
Portal of the Italian language

From the center of the empire. New archaeological discoveries of the University of Udine in ancient Assyria

Categories: Archaeology and Heritage

Journey through the archaeological discoveries of the University of Udine in ancient Assyria

Faida – panel 4

The opening ceremony of the exhibition ‘From the center of the empire. New archaeological discoveries of the University of Udine in ancient Assyria’ took place at the Castle of Udine On December 16. The archaeological exhibition will take visitors to the heart of ancient Assyria, the first global empire in history, and will remain open until April 30.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, the name of ancient Assyria resonated in the memory of the Western Countries only through the powerful images created by biblical prophets. Isaiah, in his fury against the people of Israel who did not maintain the faith in one god, evoked Assyria in this way: ‘Woe to Assyria, stick of my wrath (of Yahweh)! The stick in his hand is the instrument of my indignation’. Greek and Latin authors, on the other hand, remembered Assyria for its arrogant confidence in its invincibility, its idolatry, the cruelty and lasciviousness of its sovereigns, and its enormous wealth. Exactly 180 years ago, in 1842, in the region of Mosul, archaeological research, led by a group of French and British diplomat-explorers competing with each other in the great game of colonial powers between the Middle East and the Indies, brought to light the first imposing vestiges of this ancient empire. Thus began the rediscovery of Assyria, which, between the eighth and seventh centuries BC, constituted the largest empire in the history of Mesopotamia before the advent of the Persian Empire. His imperial has been inherited  by the Babylonian and Achaemenid empires and, later, the Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great, the Parthian and Sassanid empires.

The research led by the University of Friuli in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, the heart of Assyria, and the extraordinary discoveries made in the plains of upper Mesopotamia have helped to shed light on aspects until now little or not at all known of the formation process of the Assyrian empire, allowing us to understand how the imperial elite managed the territorial organization of Assyria through the creation of a vast network of imperial infrastructures‘, explains Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, one of the curators of the exhibition, which operates in Iraq with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. These included extensive and complex regional irrigation systems that increased the agricultural productivity of the empire by ensuring a stable economic base, communication routes, the establishment of new capitals and large urban centers to administer the provinces of Assyria, but also mass deportations of prisoners of war that reconfigured the demography of the center of the empire, providing the Assyrian rulers with a vast workforce to build strategic infrastructure and agricultural settlers who cultivated the vast expanses of land irrigated by newly created channel networks. The exhibition offers to the general public the scientific achievements and the most important archaeological discoveries made by Friulian archaeologists during this research through a close and innovative dialogue between documentary materials, archaeological finds, photographic images and multimedia materials that makes the discoveries presented really understandable. The visit is facilitated by a multimedia communication, created by the Digital Storytelling Lab of the Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage of the University of Udine and by the GPS GIS and Automatic Cartography Laboratory of Roma Tre University, ‘which helps the visitors to identify a fruition appropriate to their physical condition, to their cultural preparation and sensitivity, as is now common for the exhibitions organized by the Museum’ recalls Paola Visentini, curator of the Archaeological Museum, who explains ‘how this exhibition, like the previous archaeological exhibition, wants to give the important message of eco-sustainability of the installations’.

The exhibition itinerary is enriched by tools that make accessible to all the cultural contents proposed and illustrated by wonderful bas-reliefs and cuneiform inscriptions from the royal palaces of the great Assyrian sovereigns Sargon II in Khorsabad (the ancient Dur Sharrukin) and Sennacherib in Nineveh. The bas-reliefs and Assyrian ceramics on display, arrived in Udine thanks to a careful management of loans of works conducted by the Registrar of Civic Museums, Francesca Tesei, come from the collections of the Vatican Museum, the Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco in Rome, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia-Museo Correr in Venice, the Museo Archeologico di Como and the Museo Archeologico Ligure in Genoa, while part of the documentary material has been made available by the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in London and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice.

In absolute preview and flagship of the exhibition set up by Studio CIT + S of Gorizia, a three-dimensional life-size replica of one of the extraordinary and monumental Assyrian rock bas-reliefs of Faida discovered by the Friulian archaeological mission in 2019 in Iraqi Kurdistan, created by Serena Del Piccolo. The inauguration of the exhibition took place in front of the Director General of Antiquities of the Kurdistan Region – Iraq, Kaifi Mustafa Ali, and the Director of Antiquities of Duhok, Bekas Jamaluddin Hasan.

The exhibition is enriched by a catalogue in Italian and English with informative articles by some of the leading international experts on the Assyrian empire accompanied by great color pictures.

The Mayor of Udine, Pietro Fontanini, highlights ‘how this exhibition seals the consolidated long-standing relationship between the Municipality and the University of Udine in a dialogue aimed at the cultural growth of the city. A joint project of international level that enriches the program of exhibitions that the Museums of Udine will offer in the coming months’.

Roberto Pinton , chancellor of Udine University, underlines how ‘through the intense and fruitful field research campaigns and the constant training of its students and spreading of the results of the discoveries, the University of Udine has been appreciated in the world, opening new perspectives to the study of the oldest phases of the history of human civilization in a difficult region, but critical of the planet’.

The exhibition, which aims to bring the general public closer to the knowledge of the ancient East through the history of the exceptional archaeological discoveries made by the University of Udine in the center of the Assyrian Empire, the first global empire in history, is the result of the cooperation between the Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage of the University of Udine and the Archaeological Museum of Udine with the support of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The exhibition is curated by Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, professor of Archaeology of the Ancient Near East and director of the ‘Italian Archaeological Mission in the Kurdistan Region – Iraq‘, by the vice-director of the project, the archaeologist Francesca Simi, Luigi Turri, historian of the ancient Near East of the University of Verona, and Paola Visentini, curator of the Archaeological Museum.

Giuseppe Morandini, President of the Friuli Foundation, which for years – together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region – has supported the archaeological research campaigns of the University of Udine in Iraq, underlines: ‘We are very proud and gratified by the extraordinary results achieved by the archaeologists of the University of Friuli in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, during a accurate and meticulous research activity, supported by the Foundation from the beginning; a network activity  that has led to discoveries of international importance, becoming a flagship and a symbol for our University and for the entire Friulian community’.




To know more…

You might also be interested in…

Browse the articles