June 2017

CZAP in the news

The CZAP team have conducted a busy and successful field season excavating the Early Neolithic buildings at Bestansur. You can read Kristina Killgrove's article about our ongoing investigations on the Forbes website here

March 2017


We are very pleased to confirm that the Early Neolithic site of Bestansur in Iraqi Kurdistan has been formally accepted onto the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, following nomination by the Iraqi government in recognition of the site's outstanding universal value to cultural heritage. The site entry can be viewed here.

February 2017

New article

CZAP zooarchaeologist, Dr Robin Bendrey (University of Edinburgh) has co-authored a new article modelling the Neolithic spread of zoonotic diseases in goat populations at the Central Zagros sites of Jarmo, Asiab, and Ganj Dareh. The results of the study are available here, in the open-access journal, Royal Society Open Science.

November 2016

RASHID International Podcast

Recorded at the second Protecting the Past conference, you can listen here to Prof Roger Matthews discussing the issues facing Iraq's cultural heritage and the initiatives taken by RASHID International. The conference was co-organised by the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project, with the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani and the University of Sulaimani. A selection of papers are available here, including English, Kurdish, and Arabic translations.

July 2016

New CZAP Article - available now

A summary of the project has been published in a guide to current investigations in Iraqi Kurdistan, and is now available through open access here. A full reference to this work and a list of recent project outputs is available on our Publications page.

June 2016

Prof Roger Matthews, President of RASHID International

Many congratulations to CZAP co-director Prof Roger Matthews, who has been elected to the role of President by Research Assessment and Safeguarding the Heritage of Iraq in Danger (RASHID) International, a wide-reaching network of archaeologists, historians, scientists, and heritage professionals, concerned with the ongoing cultural destruction in Mesopotamia. Read more about Roger's work in this new role here.

June 2016

Watch KhakTV's Bestansur Documentary Online

The film-crew from KhakTV joined us during our second field season at Bestansur back in 2012. It was early days in our excavations at the site, as we revealed Neolithic occupation in Trench 7, to the west of the tell. The documentary team joined us as we explored the deposits in and around a Neolithic building, with significant deposits of ground-stone, and a double-burial, as well as testing the results of our gradiometry survey. The two-part Kurdish-language documentary (with interviews of the team in English) is now available to watch below, or on the KhakTV YouTube Channel.

Bestansur - Part 1

Bestansur - Part 2

May 2016

New CZAP articles!

Two new CZAP articles have been published this Spring - the first by co-director, Wendy Matthews, on Humans and fire: changing
relations in early agricultural and built environments in the Zagros, Iran, Iraq, and the second by Jessica Godleman, Matthew Almond and Wendy Matthews, conducting An infrared microspectroscopic study of plasters and pigments from the Neolithic site of Bestansur, Iraq. Both papers introduce exciting new insights into the technological and material choices of Neolithic people in the Central Zagros. You can find more details of recent CZAP articles on our Publications page.

May 2016

Rise of the Drones

The latest field season brought with it an opportunity for the CZAP team to work with Dr Tobin Hartnell and Mohammed Anwer, of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). Our colleagues at AUIS have conducted flights over the site, taking high resolution photographs and video, and trialling 3D modelling techniques. These overhead images of the site and its surroundings give us a new perspective and we look forward to seeing more! Here is a first glimpse of the full extent of Building 5, courtesy of Tobin and Mohammed.

April 2016

CZAP 6th Season at Bestansur

In Spring 2016, CZAP team members ventured out for a sixth season of excavations at the Neolithic site of Bestansur, in Sulaimaniyah Province, Iraqi Kurdistan. Conducting focussed excavations on the walls and under-floor burials of Building 5, the site continues to surprise and attract significant interest from local media organisations. Watch Rudaw interview CZAP co-director, Prof Roger Matthews in the field, or take a look at a news item (in Kurdish) below:

January 2016

Congratulations to Dr Whitlam, Dr Iversen, and Dr Elliott

CZAP would like to start the year by congratulating three of our team members on the successful defence of their theses:

  • Dr Jade Whitlam: Plant use and neolithic societies of the eastern Fertile Crescent c. 10,000 - 5500 BC.
  • Dr Ingrid Iversen: Living in an Early Neolithic community: investigation of the social structure of settlement by microartefactual analysis of spatial organisation of activities at Bestansur, Central Zagros and Boncuklu, Central Anatolia.
  • Dr Sarah Elliott: Investigating early animal management in the Zagros mountains of Iran and Iraq: integrating field and laboratory methods for the identification and analysis of ancient faecal material.
These three exciting submissions to the University of Reading have incorporated material from the CZAP sites, shedding new light on Neolithic plant and animal management, and social structure in Southwest Asia.

December 2014

CZAP Volume 1 Now Available

The first volume in the CZAP series is now available for pre-order here: Matthews, R., Matthews, W. & Mohammadifar, Y.  2013. The Earliest Neolithic of Iran: 2008 Excavations at Sheikh-E Abad and Jani. Oxbow Books. The first volume in the CZAP Report series explores the origins of sedentism and increasing resource management in Southwest Asia, and associated developments in social, cultural and ritual practices through the Early Neolithic sites of Sheikh-e Abad and Jani.

Also now available for advance order is Matthews, R. & Fazeli, H. 2013. The Neolithisation of Iran. Oxbow Books. Buy it here. This volume comprises 18 studies by an international panel of scholars, as part of the British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology.


December 2014

Members of the CZAP team are organising the British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology Annual Conference 2014: New Agendas in Near Eastern Archaeology, Thursday 9 January to Saturday 11 January 2014. Hosted at the University of Reading, the conference includes sessions on:
  • Sustainability and resilience
  • Access and networks
  • Social identity, power and governance
  • New agendas in landscape archaeology
  • Near Eastern archaeology in the contemporary world
  • Excavation and survey reports

Booking is open until 18th December. See the website for details.

May 2013

CZAP Return from Third Season at Bestansur

Completing our third season at Bestansur, the CZAP team have now returned from six weeks in the field with our biggest team yet. Our international team of 17 Reading staff, PhD students, undergraduates and academics from institutions worldwide, working alongside representatives from the Directorate for Antiquities and Heritage, Sulaimaniyah, and Kurdish excavators, opened up five trenches around the tell and revealed exciting new insights into the Neolithic and Neo-Assyrian settlements at the site. Read more about the Bestansur Spring 2013 season here. The team would like to thank everyone who participated in making this our most exciting season yet!

October 2012

CZAP Team Return

The second season of the project in Iraqi Kurdistan is now complete and the team are returning to conduct post-ex analysis and start writing their reports. It has been thoroughly successful in identifying key areas of Neolithic activity at Bestansur, through the expansion of investigations to the west of the mound and geophysical survey of the surrounding fields.

Preliminary excavations at the Neolithic site at Shimshara have also highlighted very different modes of occupation. The latter site is under threat from seasonal flooding and future excavations will aim to recover as much information as possible before this important site is destroyed.

August 2012

CZAP Second Field Season Begins

The CZAP field team, comprising staff and students from the University of Reading, in conjunction with our partners at the Directorate for Antiquities and Heritage, KRG, are delighted to be embarking on their second season of excavations at the Neolithic site at Bestansur. Following a very productive first season, exploring ten trenches across the site, this second round of investigations intends to open up a broader area around the base of the the tell, where evidence for Pre-Pottery Neolithic activity has been identified. This season will also include preliminary investigation of the Neolithic tell at Shimshara.

June 2012

AEA Conference Autumn 2012

The CZAP team are involved with the organisation of the Association for Environmental Archaeology Conference, to be hosted at the University of Reading, 9th-12th November 2012. The Conference will focus on The Archaeologies of Neolithisation, and will include papers on Europe, Africa, Asia and the Near East, as well as a keynote session by Dr Jean-Denis Vigne and an excursion to Avebury World Heritage Site, led by Prof Richard Bradley.

May 2012


Following a highly successful field season, the CZAP team have presented their preliminary findings from our Iraqi and Iranian sites in five papers at the 8ICAANE Conference, held at the University of Warsaw in early April.  The Conference was a wonderful opportunity to share the work we are doing and to meet with an array of scholars working in related areas.

April 2012

CZAP Field Season a Success

The CZAP field team returned in late April from a successful season at Bestansur.  The excavation of ten 2m x 2m trenches has provided a wealth of data for the site and confirmed that Neolithic levels are located beneath and in the fields surounding the mound.  Investigations at the site have sparked local and national interest. Watch the Kurdsat coverage of the excavations:

January 2012

CZAP Team Prepares for 2012 Field Season

The CZAP team are busy making preparations for the field season at Bestansur in Spring 2012 and looking forward very much to a fruitful season, following reconnaisance visits in September 2011 and January 2012.