The focus of the Ur Region Archaeology Project are the two mounds of Tell Khaiber, 20 km from the ancient city of Ur, in Dhi Qar province. On the ground, these low-lying mounds hide their secrets well, but when viewed from above by satellite, large public buildings are revealed, showing their importance in antiquity. From the pottery collected on the surface, we can say that people first came to live there about 4,000 BC and the important buildings were in use around 1800 BC when a western branch of the Euphrates River passed close by.
Tell Khaiber 1 was first documented by Professor Henry T. Wright of the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1965, who collected and dated surface finds from the mound. Tell Khaiber 2 was recorded and mapped by the Iraqi State Organization for Antiquities and Heritage in 1972. A visit in January 2012 by some of the URAP team confirmed that the archaeological remains are intact and have not been disturbed by looters. As the site is also located in an area where it is safe to work, close enough to Nasiriyah to facilitate full collaboration with the young and dedicated staff of the local Antiquities Department, it was chosen as the best place to start a new international collaboration in archaeological research.
Starting in 2012, a team of international and Iraqi archaeologists have been excavating annually at Tell Khaiber, supported by local workmen. The international team includes specialists in areas such as animal bone and plant remains, as well as conservators and language experts. Work on analysis and publication is continuing throughout the year at the project’s academic base in the University of Manchester.