(Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, USA)
Between 1930 and 1936 the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago undertook comprehensive excavation on four large archaeological sites (Tell Asmar, Khafaje, Tell Agrab, Ishchali) in the Diyala Region northeast of Baghdad (Iraq). To present day, the cultural sequence established in these sites has remained the backbone for most of Mesopotamia’s archaeological chronology between 3200 – and 1700 B.C. Unfortunately, only architectural remains and major finds were published, leaving over 15,000 objects unpublished. To avoid the prohibitively high costs of a book publication, the Diyala Database Project was launched in1994, initially with the intention of simply providing an object catalogue in electronic form. Soon it was realized realized, however, that outside users will be able to use this data much more critically and comprehensively if they have full access to the primary sources in the Diyala archive. Some entries lack consistency, others are ambiguous in their meaning, leaving plenty of room for future, different interpretation. These observations resulted in the gradual, ongoing compilation of a “virtual archive” for Diyala records, including plans, field note books, locus cards, and object registers. This paper will present a synopsis of the Diyala material, on work done so far on its cataloguing and digitization, and will highlight future prospects. Particular attention will be paid to potentials of and challenges in systematically cataloguing data from old excavations, allowing full searchability while retaining data integrity.