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1. Case studies and archaeological feedback

Magnetic Signatures of Urban Structures: Case Study from Larsa (Iraq, 6th–1st millennium BC)

Lionel Darras and Régis Vallet
p. 51-54


– Magnetic signatures of urban structures.

– Understand water distribution in a megalopolis thanks to geophysics prospecting.

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Previous prospection and plans
Geophysical surveys

First lines


Mesopotamia was a great centre of civilization, the oldest of all and certainly one to which the West owes much of its cultural heritage (Margueron, 2013). From the beginning of the 4th millennium BC southern Iraq was full of cities, some of which reached several hundred hectares in area. Larsa was one of them, the capital of a city-state before its capture by Hammurabi of Babylon in 1763 BC. The site covers 200 hectares, more or less the size of Paris under Philippe Auguste at the beginning of the 13th century, then among the largest cities in Europe.

Previous prospection and plans

A French mission has been exploring the site of Larsa since 1933. In the 1980s, around 50 buildings were spotted on the surface and mapped on the plan of the time (Huot et al., 1989; Huot, 2014; Huot & Suire, 2019). Surveys north-west of a 27-m-high tell near the centre of the site, the E-Babbar temple of the sun-god Shamash, patron deity of the city (Fig. 1), detected architectural clusters of...

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Bibliographical reference

Lionel Darras and Régis Vallet, “Magnetic Signatures of Urban Structures: Case Study from Larsa (Iraq, 6th–1st millennium BC)”ArcheoSciences, 45-1 | 2021, 51-54.

Electronic reference

Lionel Darras and Régis Vallet, “Magnetic Signatures of Urban Structures: Case Study from Larsa (Iraq, 6th–1st millennium BC)”ArcheoSciences [Online], 45-1 | 2021, Online since 16 August 2021, connection on 17 October 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Lionel Darras

Corresponding author, CNRS, Archeorient, UMR 5133, Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, France

By this author

Régis Vallet

CNRS, PréTech, UMR 7055, Nanterre, France

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Article L.111-1 du Code de la propriété intellectuelle.

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