Slope analysis and rock fall assessment in the Khinis archaeological area (Kurdistan, northern Iraq)
Keywords:Slope analysis, rock fall, Khinis, Assyrian heritage, Kurdistan, Iraq
This work assesses the conditions of slope instability in the Khinis archaeological area (northern Iraq), which threaten the integrity and conservation of the local cultural heritage. The site preserves traces of sculpturing activity produced during the reign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib (VIII-VII centuries BCE, i.e. before common era). Bas-reliefs were created to celebrate the realization of canalization works built to transport waters from the Zagros Mountains to Nineveh. Multidisciplinary analysis of the local rock slope highlights active rock fall processes of varying magnitude. A few large rock pillars (hundreds of m3) show different conditions of instability after a limit-equilibrium analysis. Meanwhile, potential falls of smaller rock blocks affect the entire Khinis slope as they can detach from mid-slope escarpments. Through probabilistic 3D modelling, the calculation of block trajectories, arrest areas and energy values involved allows the design of a remediation plan,in accordance with the preservation requirements of the landscape value of the site. Finally, some hypotheses are advanced concerning the possible relationships between rock fall processes and the accomplishment of some of the Assyrian sculptures. A reason for further interest in this archaeological site, that it will soon be proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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