Iraq – Seleucia on the Tigris

Research at Seleucia on the Tigris
Seleucia on the Tigris
Scientific directors:
Giorgio Gullini, Antonio Invernizzi
Field directors:
Germana Graziosi, Antonio Invernizzi, Maria Maddalena Negro Ponzi, Elisabetta Valtz

In 1964 the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino inaugurated its field research with the site of Seleucia on the Tigris. Between 1927 and 1937 the site had already been explored by the American archaeologists of the University of Michigan and the Museums of Toledo and Cleveland, which performed several soundings in various parts of the city and extensively investigated one of the dwelling blocks, indicated as block G6. The missions conducted between 1963 and 1976 by the Centro Scavi di Torino consisted both in geomagnetic and topographical prospections, which clarified many aspects of the city’s urban layout, and in extensive excavations carried out in different parts of the city, which brought essential information on architecture, handicrafts and art. After a hiatus, the excavations in Seleucia resumed in 1985 and continued until 1989. The recovered archaeological materials – and are still making – a decisive contribution to the reconstruction of over five centuries of Near Eastern history, and they are still the object of several research projects conducted by the archaeologists of the Centre. Four areas were investigated. Between 1964 and 1968, a vast trench was dug on Tell ‘Umar under the direction of A. Invernizzi, allowing the identification of the Sasanian phases of the structure, which at that time consisted of a large tower. During the same period, under the direction of G. Graziosi and then of M.M. Negro Ponzi, a large excavation was conducted in the so-called “South Square” area, at the city’s southern limit, which allowed the identification of dwelling houses and artisans’ shops dating mostly to the Parthian period. In 1967 a trench was dug in order to examine the west side of the vast open area extending to the south of Tell ‘Umar. The initial trench was eventually widened until it reached an extension of 145x20 m and revealed, in addition to Parthian structures, the largest Hellenistic Archive building known so far, inside which over 25,000 clay sealings were found. The Archive was a public institution for storing documents, destroyed by a great fire in the last quarter of the 2nd century B.C. From 1985 to 1989, an excavation led by E. Valtz was opened on the east side of the area at the foot of Tell ‘Umar, by now definitely identified as one of the main city agorai; this enabled the discovery of a portico, i.e. a stoa, that in the Hellenistic period faced the archive building on the other side of the square.


The site of Seleucia on the Tigris extends on a surface of about 550 hectares on the right bank of the Tigris, approximately 30 km south of modern-day Baghdad. The city rose in the last years of the 4th century BC in the heart of Babylonia, founded by Seleucos I Nikator, successor of Alexander the Great and the first king of a dynasty that ruled over a vast part of Asia for over a century. The city became the new empire’s capital and one of the main centres of the Hellenistic East, a privileged point of encounters between the Seleucids’ Greek culture and ancient Eastern traditions. Thanks to its position at the crossroads between East and West, Seleucia enjoyed a considerable commercial development and became an immense metropolis by the period’s standards. Art was deeply influenced by the encounter between different cultures: elements of Greek, Mesopotamian and Iranian art were combined in entirely new ways, producing innovative and distinctive forms of expression. Between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, a new population originating from central Asia, the Parthians, began to contend control over vast areas of the empire with the Seleucids, until in 141 BC their king Mithridates I, the first great ruler of the Arsacid dynasty, conquered Mesopotamia and the city of Seleucia too. With the advent of the Arsacids, Seleucia maintained constant ties with the Mediterranean basin through trade and remained one of the most thriving trading posts of the empire, continuing to benefit from its autonomy, which also contemplated the right to issue its own coins in a municipal mint. In this period, it was one of the largest cities in the Parthian East, with a population of over 600,000, which allowed its importance to match that of Rome and Alexandria (Plin., Nat. Hist. 6,122; Strab., XVI,2:5; Tac., Ann., VI,42). With the development in the 1st century BC of the new royal residence in Ctesiphon (approximately 3 Roman miles away from Seleucia), whose exact location is still unknown, the political and commercial focus did not shift and the two cities, close enough to be considered a single metropolis, remained a constant point of reference for the trade that developed along what eventually became the Silk Road. Ctesiphon was reinforced only in the mid-1st century AD by the ruling dynasty, but the city’s fortunes definitely declined only when Ardashir I, the first great Sasanian ruler, having seized power from the Arsacids, decided to found a new city, Veh Ardashir (Choche), on the opposite bank of the Tigris.


The Archives area

The excavation of the Archives (1967-1972) exposed an area of over 2600 sq m. Parthian dwellings and the Archives building overlooking the city agora were brought to light, this latter being the only large Hellenistic building extensively documented in Seleucia. The recovery of thousands of clay sealings of documents stored in situ (over 25,000) was especially significant. The excavation allowed the identification of five levels of occupation, spanning approximately five centuries.

Level V

The oldest level, the one belonging to the Archives, was reached only partially, as the foundations of the later structures, which could not be removed while the excavations were underway, englobed its architectural remains. The building was composed of two series of seven rooms, for an overall length of approximately 140 m. These rooms, rectangular spaces with niches and pillars repeated in series, were aligned along the short side and were connected axially. The finding of the sealings mixed with coal and nails in correspondence of the niches would suggest that wooden shelves were mounted inside each niche. Documents made from perishable materials (which burnt during the fire) were placed on the shelves, and burned in the great fire that destroyed the building. Thanks to the impressions of dated stamps on over half of the surviving seals, it was possible to date the building to the Seleucid period, while the other figured seal impressions, specifically those bearing the portrait of Demetrios II (second reign), show that the fire must have broken out after 129 B.C. The nature of the sealings, which bear the impressions of official and private stamps, suggests that this huge facility must have been run by a public authority and that Seleucia’s citizens could deposit copies of their documents (mostly commercial contracts and fiscal receipts) there. This is the largest known archive building of the Hellenistic world.

Level IV

After the fire, this side of the agora served a different purpose: if the archives were a public space, the new complex appears to be a group of dwellings. The original nature of the ample square in front of Tell ‘Umar was thus at least partly reconsidered. Only a few rows of the structures built on top of the Archives have survived, and in some points the excavation did not uncover any traces of them due to the contextual presence of subsequent reconstructions. However, thanks to the acquired data, it was possible to identify several open spaces belonging to this new complex, whose alternation with covered areas seems intentional, as it was plausibly ascribable to the subdivision into inhabitative cells. On the basis of these observations and the materials’ chronology, which suggest a relatively brief period of occupation (late 2nd century BC – first quarter of the 1st century BC), it may be hypothesized that Level IV was a transition level.

Level III

Level III represents the longest phase of occupation of the Parthian period and is characterized by more elaborate architectural work, as inside it two major reconstruction phases and a phase in which less extensive works were made (IIIa, IIIb, IIIc) may be distinguished. Compared to Level IV, this phase displays an increase in construction work and a more evident exploitation of the area. Moreover, new buildings were constructed on the remains of the old ones. Although they were essentially based, at least in part, on the previous layout, in many points they possessed thicker walls decreased the available floor space; this was likely offset by the buildings’ greater height, so as to recover some usable floor space. The mostly inhabitative function of these buildings is further emphasized by the greater amount of available artefacts compared to the previous phase, although they are for the most part materials recovered from rooms in the north half of the building. Only a part of the complex, and for a period limited to Level IIIa-b, was used for commercial activities, but it was converted in the final period of occupation and used as a dwelling unit. The passage from Level IIIb to Level IIIc seems to represent the height of the Parthian period’s architectural development. It is during this phase the burials inside dwellings, which were previously almost completely absent, increased considerably. The structures necessary for the residents’ daily needs were increased and better distributed – the wells, for example, were no longer concentrated in a single place as in Level IV. The dwellings’ sizes vary slightly, but on average they are approximately under 200 sq m. They had in common the presence of a courtyard, where the main household activities took place. Within the context of Level III, the materials were distributed over a rather long period of time, spanning from the second half of the 1st century BC to the end of the 1st century AD.

Levels II-I

In most areas of the excavation site, the last two periods of occupation are indistinguishable. In fact, the evident overlapping of two architectural phases was observed with certainty only in a few parts of the complex. The buildings’ overall layout is essentially the same, but compared to the previous phases a tendency to simplify the layout of certain rooms or sectors and (especially in the southern part of the complex) to group together several rooms into large uncovered rectangular areas several metres long may be observed. As for the parts where artefacts were found, we may notice that the amount of materials progressively decreases over time – i.e. in correspondence of the topmost layers – while the number of burials seems to increase in proportion. Although reconstruction works are anyhow evident, human activity seems to be concentrated only in a few parts of the complex and the buildings appear to have undergone a slow but progressive decay. It is not possible to reconstruct in detail the chronology of the materials connected with Levels II-I, but pottery generally ascribable to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD is present at levels compatible with the oldest architectural phase (Level II), while those present at more superficial levels, which are more ascribable to the last phase of reconstruction (Level I), date back to the mid-2nd century AD or to the 2nd-3rd century AD. On the whole, these phases may therefore be ascribed to a wide time span that undoubtedly encompasses all of the 2nd century AD and at least the early 3rd century AD. According to the context of several rooms, a possible separation between the two levels could be dated to the last quarter of the 2nd century AD, because at the intermediate levels between the two architectural phases two small treasures of coins were found that, considering the presence of coins depicting Faustina Minor, could not have been left there before 176 AD.

Tell 'Umar

Tell ‘Umar, 13 metres high and measuring 94x79m at its base, is the most important tell in Seleucia. It is located at the site’s northern limit, north of a vast rectangular agora overlooked by the Archives and the stoa. This was a difficult monument to interpret, characterized by a complex stratigraphical buildup. The excavations, which began in 1964 and were interrupted in 1970, concerned the north-western part of the tell and highlighted three main architectural phases. The investigation was also extended to the area immediately at the foot of the tell, where Parthian and Seleucid structures were identified.

Seleucid phase

The basal levels at the foot of the tell, reached only in part due to the overlapping structures that were added subsequently, include a large courtyard and parts of several rectangular rooms. These remains, the oldest reached so far, are probably ascribable to the Seleucid period. It is likely that the massive unbaked brick structures that make up the northern side of the tell may also be ascribed to the same period. The morphological characteristics of the tell, which has a circularoid shape, allowed the interpretation of the Seleucid structure as a theatre: the massive solid walls are the imposing substruction of the cavea. The tell’s peculiar position also fits with this interpretation, as it overlooks the city’s main agora, as is often the case with theatres in Hellenistic cities.

Parthian phases

The theatre underwent several modifications and was probably used up to the late Parthian period. In fact, the most superficial remains of the great substructions of the cavea, which also include practicable areas, seem to belong to this period. The state of conservation of the walls towards the centre of the tell hints at the cavea’s now-disappeared terraces, which could be reached by lateral stairs such as those whose traces remain in the southwest part of the construction. Some of the rooms that made up the substructions were distinguished by a special formal treatment, because their walls were plastered in blue or in pink, as attested by the now scarce traces of colour found during the excavation. Moreover, low podiums or plinths, which seem to suggest the rooms’ ceremonial usage (probably of a religious nature, as two large terracotta statuettes depicting a seated divine youth were found there) were placed inside them. A considerable part of this building was englobed in the substructions of the subsequent Sasanian phase.

Sasanian phase

The imposing theatre construction likely fell into ruin at the end of the Parthian period, but it was not demolished; its remains were recovered at the end of the Sasanian period, and the theatre’s purpose and architectural layout changed radically. In fact, at the centre of the tell, in correspondence of the theatre’s orchestra, a massive unbaked brick tower was built, using bricks that were larger than those used in previous periods. The tower was traversed by small gutters, which presumably served the purpose of facilitating the drying of the mortar in the inner core, and was surrounded by a very thick elliptical unbaked brick wall that was partly built over the remains of the previous structures. The space between the inner tower and this containing wall was filled with debris and, in the top part, with alternating layers of sand and reeds. A small treasure of 190 silver coins of Khosraw II (590-627 AD), deposited in a small jar in a ditch in front of the elliptical containing wall, provides a chronological reference for the end of the imposing construction.

The Stoa area

In 1985, excavations resumed in Seleucia, on the east side of the Archive square, with a sounding in the north end, which eventually became the main excavation site of subsequent campaigns, conducted in 1987 and 1989. It brought to light an extremely interesting architectural layout originally dating to the Seleucid period and a continuous stratigraphical sequence (levels I–V from the surface), and an abundance of artefacts of hitherto undiscovered types were found.

Level V

Level V, excavated to the maximum depth allowed by the presence of the water table, revealed a monumental front that extended for at least 40 metres towards north and south, overlooking the square with a stoa, of which eight rooms separated by nine walls at regular intervals were brought to light. On the square, the stoa was bordered by a brick sidewalk, along whose entire length ran a very well-made drainage channel. Behind the stoa rose two blocks of parallel buildings, composed of rooms and courtyards, that we are tempted to interpret as residences of the Seleucid Archives’ officials. Here, Hellenistic-type pottery of very good quality (fish plates, amphorae, glazed lagynoi and amphoriskoi with rouletting) was brought to light amid the remains of burned beams, a palmette antefix and syma fragments. A medallion mould depicting a scene of a marine thiasos with Nereid and Triton confirms a strongly hellenized context dating to the late 3rd century-early 2nd century BC, which also agrees with architectural and numismatic data. This allows the documentation from the Archive complex to be completed, so that the Square, with its administrative facilities and public spaces may be interpreted as a unitary urbanistic project of an Agora, perhaps dating to the reign of Antiochus III.

Level IV

Level IV represents an intermediate occupation characterized by the absence of autonomous constructional phases and the presence of burials, open areas with irregular and burnt floors, kilns and garbage pits. The burials (in pits, in jars, saddle-roofed, vaulted) partly damaged the structures of the stoa, and at the same time were greatly damaged, by both the foundations of the Level III walls and by the especially high water table. The most significant find is a small treasure of 51 bronze coins from the city mint, datable to the late 2nd century B.C.

Level III

Level III, which lasted for a long time, displays a complex transformation (sub-phases IIIa-IIIb) in which new walls were built on a silt filling using the walls of the stoa as foundations. The new constructions overlooking the square include a succession of small rooms that were used as craftsmen’s shops, probably by bakers. New drains, gutters and sumps equipped the open areas where fireplaces, bread ovens, garbage deposits and a pottery kiln attest to household activities and crafts. To the east of this area, a housing block, separated into two parts by a narrow alley, is composed of a cluster of rooms, some of which still contain remains of plaster, and courtyards. In addition to numerous findings of pottery and terracotta figurines, valuable objects were found, such as an alabaster statuette of a reclining woman, fragments of glass tableware and glazed terracotta tiles. The findings, the burials and the coins, from Seleucia’s city mint and datable to the 1st century BC - first half of the 1st century AD, confirm a context belonging to the middle Parthian period.

Levels II-I

In levels II-I (Parthian and late Parthian), the walls use the underlying unbaked brick walls as foundations, which were reinforced and adapted with joints made from layers of straw, while the elevation was made from pisé, with the façade made from baked bricks. The spaces brought to light are courtyards equipped with torpedo amphora drains, alleys with drainage gutters and a storeroom, found full of foodstuff jars and bowls that were perhaps used to collect grains. Bitumen instead of mortar and the use of fragments of baked bricks as flooring characterize the structures of level I.

The South Square

Since the 1930s, aerial photographs highlighted a long straight path that may have been a main road flanked by open spaces, along the city’s presumed southern limit. In the late 1960s, the Italian Mission carried out an extensive geophysical survey that proved that the city area, surrounded and crossed by canals that were subsequently buried, was larger; several diagnostic soundings were opened, the most important of which was located in the large open area on the north side of the road. The excavation ascertained that the open space dated only to the most recent Parthian period (1st-2nd centuries AD), while in the most ancient period (level IV) the area was entirely occupied by buildings, probably dwellings implementing an original urbanistic solution, as they were aligned on a terraced base with a baked brick front, connected with stairs to a road built below ground level on a previously existing waterway or sand-filled canal. The buildings, separated by parallel lesser roads, possessed baked brick façades with pillars, perpetuating millenary Mesopotamian customs, but the types of dwellings also included distinctly Hellenistic models, such as a large house with a courtyard and inner portico with columns between half-pillars and decorations – smooth or decorated cornices, curved plate coverings for the columns and gargoyles decorated with lion heads – made from terracotta. In Parthian times (levels III-II), the block’s structure was transformed: the road was raised to the buildings’ floor level and the baked brick south front disappeared, while smaller rooms, used as shops and alternating with the dwellings, appeared. The square was built only in the 1st century AD by demolishing the buildings in the central part and, simultaneously, numerous graves of the types that were common in Parthian times appeared, confirming the area’s considerable change of use. In the last phase (level I), corresponding to the final Parthian period, the buildings were renovated once again: the decorations were now made from stucco, painted with lively colours and techniques and motifs derived from the oldest eastern iconography, attesting to a deep penetration of Parthian culture in the city.


The clay sealings

The considerable number of sealings (over 25,000) found from 1967 to 1972 by the Italian Archaeological Mission in the Archive Building of Seleucia was closely studied during the 1990s by a team of researchers from the University of Turin; the final result is the global classification of all the impressions preserved on the sealings, now available inside three volumes that consider all of the material, subdividing it according to major iconographic classes (I: Official seals, portraits; II: Deities; III: Human figures, animals, objects and plants). Although many historical and artistic aspects and issues related to the analysis of the archive’s functioning must be studied in greater depth, the complete publication of the catalogue of figured impressions has anyhow given scholars access to one of the largest and most important bodies of documents for understanding the history and culture of Seleucid Mesopotamia and of the entire Hellenistic/Roman world. The figured impressions display a very rich assortment of subjects that in almost all cases belong to the Hellenistic repertoire (specifically, one should notice the presence of the main gods of the Greek pantheon: Apollo, Athena, Eros, Tyche, Artemis, Aphrodite, Heracles, Dionysus). Although the background is almost always Greek, the presence of motifs also belonging to the Babylonian (priests and fantastic animals) and Iranian traditions (e.g. the pigtailed figures or the hunting scenes) must also be noted; among the latter, several synchretistic images stand out (Artemis-Athena-Nanaia and Apollo-Nabu) which, although conceived in a purely Greek formal language, attest to the strong persistence of the old Mesopotamian culture in the Seleucid period. The sealings found by the Italian Mission inside of the Archive building complement the sealings found during the American excavations of one of the city’s blocks, inside two private archives, known as “Archive A” and “Archive B” (McDowell, 1935). Although these are not unitary bodies of work, the information provided even by a superficial examination are invaluable, as the comparison of these large groups of seal impressions has yielded extremely interesting results: firstly, the presence of analogous seal impressions, on both tablets and sheets of documents (i.e. rolled or folded sheets of parchment or, in a smaller percentage, papyrus). The comparative examination of the seal impressions from Uruk and Seleucia shows that the impressions of the same seal or of different seals with the same pattern are recurrent in the different archival contexts of the two cities, both in the Archive building in Seleucia and in the templar archives of Uruk, and on different media; moreover, interesting parallels also exist between the archives in the same city centre, such as in Seleucia.

The terracotta figurines

The 14 excavation campaigns conducted between the 1960s and 1980s by the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino brought to light over 9000 terracotta statuettes, mostly in fragmentary conditions. They come from all the investigated areas, even if they are unequally distributed. The highest percentage of figurines was found in the northern agora: particularly, in a small sounding opened on the southern side of the square over 3000 figurines were found, piled up in several deposits (pits and accumulation layers) linked with the activity of a large terracotta workshop. Thanks to their number and their historical interest, the terracottas from Seleucia are an exceptional find and yield an extraordinary amount of potential information: in fact, they represent the material reflection of the complex cultural and artistic life of the city, born from the encounter and exchange between Greek, Mesopotamian and Iranian element. Greek influence is decidedly clear and is especially evident in the introduction of subjects that did not belong to the traditional Mesopotamian repertoire (Greek gods, athletes, young boys, theatrical masks…) and in the diffusion of double mould production methods. The reception of these new elements by local artisans led to the iconographic and formal renewal of a production that anyhow remained largely tied to the taste and needs of the local population: traditional subjects were therefore cast in double moulds (as in the case of the musician and the nude female figures with the arms along their sides) or wore Greek dresses and accessories (as in the case, for example, of nursing figurines and riders). The study of this extraordinary repertoire has recently lead to the publication of the complete catalogue of the terracottas from Seleucia, including both the exemplars from the Italian excavations and the exemplars from the American excavations that are preserved in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, a total amount of about 11,000 published exemplars.

The pottery

The pottery from Seleucia is significant not only for the extraordinary abundance of the findings, which originate from dwelling blocks, burials, public buildings and open areas and cover the entire lifespan of the city from Seleucid times to the late Parthian period, but also for the exceptional wealth of the chronological and historical/artistic reference picture, outlined during the course of 26 Italian and American excavation campaigns. The most interesting aspect of this production is the originality with which the innovations brought by the Macedonian settlers merged with the millenary local tradition, modifying the consolidated Mesopotamian repertoire in all classes of production, from glazed and fine pottery to common cooking ware. In addition to bowls, small vases and pots, lamps and pilgrims’ flasks, which were still produced in accordance with the tradition of Mesopotamian glazing, many types of Hellenistic models typical of the 4th – 3rd centuries B.C. (black-painted, West Slope Ware, Megarian) are recognizable under the green, white and blue glazed surface. In the light of very scarce ceramic imports from the fatherland, the city’s shops in Seleucid times met the settlers’ demands using a traditional technique to create original adaptations of western types, such as the two-handled amphora, the kantharoid bowl, the fish plate, and the lagynoi. In the Parthian period, thanks to the increase in trade over long distances, the diffusion of Eastern Sigillata A and of blown glass contributed to the creation of a varied production of glazed ceramics, which spread throughout all the main Parthian sites, from northern Mesopotamia to the Gulf to the Iranian plateau between the 1st century BC and the late 1st century AD. The particular wealth of Parthian Seleucia’s repertoire, with the family of pyriform pitchers with one handle, the large bowls and the turquoise dishes, the amphorae decorated with carvings, the elegant white-glazed bowls and the bell-shaped jugs reflect the prosperous economic situation the city enjoyed thanks to its status of commercial emporium and of primary economic centre in the exchange economy of the ancient world. Even the production of common pottery, usually more tied to local traditions, was affected by the innovations brought by the Greek settlers. The phenomenon may be observed in other cities of Hellenized Mesopotamia, but the extraordinary diffusion of the countless variants of single-handled jugs and bottles, always characterized by a rather high manufacturing quality and a strict adherence to western prototypes is peculiar to Seleucia, while the repertoire of cups, bowls, terrines and basins for everyday use perpetuates the shapes of the Mesopotamian tradition. A very distinctive type of fine ware, with eggshell-thin walls and ascribable to the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid tradition of palace-ware, persisted throughout the city’s lifespan, but it too was not immune from the influences of western models, as attested by shapes such as the small amphora with two handles, the small single-handled jug and the kantharoid bowl. The long-spout and saucer-shaped lamps of Mesopotamian tradition, are complemented by western-inspired lamps, sometimes with several spouts, decorated with relief figures that make them small sculpture masterpieces. The quality of production decreased only in the last phases of the city’s life, with a simplification of types and less meticulous glazing and crafting, but the legacy of most of the repertoire was picked up by the Sasanian Veh Ardashir/Choche, which elaborated it into a new synthesis bordering between the late ancient and medieval Islamic styles.


The preliminary reports are published in Mesopotamia, I (1966) following.

1999 «Iside nella glittica di Seleucia al Tigri», in Tropi Isiaci I, Atti del convegno di studi di Torino (1999), E. Leospo, D. Taverna (a cura di), 33-7. 2003a «Le figure “dinoccolate” sui sigilli di Seleucia al Tigri: adattamento di un motivo greco al gusto orientale o conseguenza di un processo produttivo?», in Transmarinae Imagines, Studi sulla trasmissione delle iconografie tra Mediterraneo e Asia in età classica ed ellenistica, E. Acquaro, P. Callieri (a cura di), La Spezia, 131 – 48. 2003b «Tyche nella glittica di Seleucia al Tigri», Parthica, 5, 77 – 96.

2004 Seleucia al Tigri. Le impronte di sigillo dagli Archivi, a cura di A. Invernizzi, Centro Scavi Torino Missione in Iraq II, Mnème 3, Vol. I – III, Alessandria. La pubblicazione ha ottenuto il Prix Drouin dell'Académie des Inscription et Belles Lettres.

1978-79 «A Cuneiform Tablet from Tell ‘Umar», Mesopotamia, XIII-XIV, 91 – sg.

1973-74 «Der Sasanidische Münzfund von Seleukia (Veh Ardashir) 1967», Mesopotamia, VIII-IX, 229 – sg.

1968-69 «Excavations in Squares CLXXI 5455/56/64/65/66 (Porticoed Street)», Mesopotamia, III-IV, 43 – 52.

1964 «First Report of the Results of the First Excavation Campaign at Seleucia and Ctesiphon, 1st oct.- 17th dec. 1964», Sumer, 20, 63 – 65.
1966 «Problems of Excavations in Northern Babylonia», Mesopotamia, I, 7 – sg. 1967a «Un contributo alla storia dell'urbanistica: Seleucia sul Tigri», Mesopotamia, II, 135 – 164.
11967b «Gli scavi italiani a Seleucia e Ctesifonte», OA, VI:2, 307 – 309.
1970-71 «Attività e ricerche in Mesopotamia del Centro Scavi di Torino», Atti della Accademia delle Scienze di Torino, 105, 641 – sg.
1978 «Undici campagne di scavo a Seleucia e Ctesifonte», Quaderni de La Ricerca Scientifica, 100, 477 – sg.

1966 «First Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Season 1964», Mesopotamia, I, 1 – 88.

1968a «Bullae from Seleucia», Mesopotamia, III-IV, 69 – 124.
1968b «Problemi di coroplastica tardo-mesopotamica», Mesopotamia, III-IV, 227 – 292.
1971 «Bulles de Séleucie du Tigre», AAS, XXI, 105 – 108.
1972 «The Excavations at the Archives Building», Mesopotamia, VII, 13 – 16.
1973-74 «The Excavations at the Archives Building», Mesopotamia, VIII, 9 – 14.
1976 «Ten Years Research in the al-Mada'in Area. Seleucia and Ctesiphon», Sumer, 32, 167 – 175.
1984 «Note on the Art of Seleucid Mesopotamia», in Arabie orientale, Mésopotamie et Iran méridional de l'Age du fer au début de la période islamique, R. Boucharlat (ed.), Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, Mèmoires, 37, Paris, 27 – 31.
1985 «Seleucia sul Tigri», in La terra tra i due fiumi, Venti anni di archeologia italiana in Medio Oriente, La Mesopotamia dei tesori, Torino, 87 – 93.
1986 «Séleucie du Tigre, métropole grecque d'Asie», in O Ellènismos sten Anatolè, International Meeting of History and Archaeology, Delphoi, Atene (1991), 339 –359.
1989 «Héraclès à Séleucie du Tigre», Revue Archéologique, 1989:1, 65-113. 1990a «Selevkia-na-Tigre, greceskaja metropolija v Azii», VesDrevIstor, 159/2, 174 – 186.
1990b «Arte seleucide in Mesopotamia», in Akten des 13. Internationalen Kongresses für klassische Archäologie, Berlin (1988), Mainz am Rhein, 19 – 23.
1991a «Fra novità e tradizione: la fondazione di Seleucia sul Tigri», in Nuove fondazioni nel Vicino Oriente Antico: realtà e ideologia, Atti del colloquio, Università degli Studi di Pisa, S. Mazzoni (a cura di), Pisa, 115 – 129.
1991b «Séleucie du Tigre, métropole grecque d'Asie», RA, 180 – 185.
1992 «Seleucia on the Tigris: Centre and Periphery in Seleucid Asia», in Centre and Periphery in the Hellenistic World, International Symposium, Lolland (1992), P. Bilde, T. Engberg-Pedersen, L. Hannestad (eds.), Studies in Hellenistic Civilization, 4, Aarhus, 230 – 250.
1993 «Gli archivi pubblici di Seleucia sul Tigri», in Archivi e sigilli, 131 – 143.
1994a «Hellenism in Mesopotamia. A View from Seleucia on the Tigris», al-Rafidan, XV, 1 – 24.
1994b «Babylonian Motifs on the Sealing from Seleucia-on-the-Tigris», in Continuity and Change, Achaemenid History, VIII, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, A. Khurt, M.C. Root (eds.), Leiden, 353 – 364.
1994c «Appunti sulla cultura ellenistica nell'impero seleucide», Topoi, 4, 521 – 30.
1995a «Seal Impression of Achaemenid ando Graeco-persian Style from Seleucia on the Tigris», Mesopotamia, XXX, 39 – 50.
1995b «Seleucia and Uruk: Cities of Seleucid Babylonia», in Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte Vorderasiens, Festschrift für R. M. Boehmer, U. Finkbeiner, R. Dittmann, H. Hauptmann (Hrsg.), Mainz am Rhein, 273 – 280.
1996a «Stelle e rosette tra le impronte di sigillo degli archivi di Seleucia al Tigri», in Alle soglie della classicità, Il Mediterraneo tra tradizione e innovazione, Studi in onore di Sabatino Moscati, E. Acquaro (a cura di), Pisa-Roma, 801 – 811.
1996b Recensione a VOLLENWEIDER 1995, Mesopotamia XXXI, 277 – 282.
1998 «Osservazioni in margine al problema della religione della Mesopotamia ellenizzata», Electrum, vol. 2, 87 – 99.
2001 «Portraits of Seleucid Kings on the Sealings from Seleucia on the Tigris. A Reassessment», BAsInst, 12, 105 – 112.
2003 «They Did Not Write on Clay: Non Cuneiform Documents and Archives in Seleucid Mesopotamia», in Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions, Proceedings of the Symposium of Oxford (1988), M. Brosius (ed.), Oxford, 302 – 322.
2003 «Isiac Themes at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris», Parthica 5, 63 – 75.
2010 «Seleukeia am Tigris», Reallexikon der Assyriologie und der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie, XII: 5/6, 366 – 369.

1972 «Geophysical Surveys at Seleucia», Mesopotamia, VII, 259 – sg.

La terra tra i due fiumi. Venti anni di archeologia italiana in Medio Oriente. La Mesopotamia dei tesori, Catalogo della Mostra di Torino (1985), Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l’Asia, Alessandria, 1985.

1998 Séleucie du Tigre, Les monnaies séleucides et parthes, Monografie di Mesopotamia, VI, Missione Italiana in Iraq, I, Firenze.

2005 «Le figure femminile ammantate nella coroplastica di Seleucia al Tigri», Parthica, 7, 81 – 91.
2009 «Seleucia al Tigri. Il saggio sul versante meridionale della piazza degli Archivi», Mesopotamia, XLIV, 147 – 176.
2009b «La figura del cavaliere nella coroplastica di Seleucia al Tigri», Electrum, 15, 67 – 81.
2010 «Le figurine in terracotta da Seleucia al Tigri. Studi e ricerche sui materiali dalle collezioni del Museo Civico d’Arte Antica di Torino e del Kelsey Museum di Ann Arbor», Palazzo Madama. Studi e Notizie, 1, 188 – 191.
2012 «Creating a new language: the terracotta figurines from Seleucia on the Tigris», in in R. Matthews, J. Curtis (eds), Mega-cities & Mega-sites. The Archaeology of Consumption & Disposal. Landscape, Transport & Communication, Vol. 1, Proceedings of the 7 ICAANE: The 7 International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Wiesbaden, 157 – 167.
2013 «E lontano, lontano nel tempo…Una figurina fuori contesto dagli scavi italiani a Seleucia al Tigri», in A. Invernizzi (ed.) Mnemeion. Scritti in onore di Paolo Fiorina, Alessandria, 213 – 218.
2014 «Seleucid, Parthian Mesopotamia, and Iran, Archaeology of», in C. Smith (ed.) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology: SpringerReference (, Berlin – Heidelberg, 6554 – 6564.
2014 «Seleucia on the Tigris, a Greek city in Mesopotamia», in P. Leriche (ed.), Art & civilizations de l’Orient Hellénisé. Rencontres et échanges culturels d’Alexandre aux Sassanides, Paris, 117 – 122.
2014 Seleucia al Tigri, le terrecotte figurate (Monografie di Mesopotamia, XVI, Missione in Iraq, VI), Firenze.

2011 «Tell ‘Umar, il tempio addossato al teatro. Le fasi architettoniche e le figurine in terracotta», in in C. Lippolis, S. de Martino (eds.), Un impaziente desiderio di scorrere il mondo, Studi in onore di A. Invernizzi, Monografie di Mesopotamia XIV, Firenze, 265 – 271.

2015 «Children and magic. A glimpse on some terracotta figurines from Seleucia on the Tigris», Problema istorii, filologii, kul’tury 1 (47), 73 – 80.

2001 «Presto sarò re. Seleuco IV come Helios sulle cretule da Seleucia al Tigri», Parthica, 3, 9 – 23.
2003a «Teste con elmo di sovrani seleucidi tra le impronte di sigillo sulle cretule da Seleucia al Tigri», in Transmarinae Imagines, Studi sulla trasmissione delle iconografie tra Mediterraneo e Asia in età classica ed ellenistica, E. Acquaro, P. Callieri (a cura di), La Spezia, 111 – 130.
2003b «More gentis parthicæ. Ritratti barbuti di Demetrio II sulle impronte di sigillo da Seleucia al Tigri», Parthica, 5, 21 – 36.
2004 «Continuità politica e ideologica nella Babilonia di Seleuco I e Antioco I. Osservazioni sull’iconografia regale», Mesopotamia, 39, 169-84.
2005 «Da Uruk a Seleucia. Pratiche amministrative e archivi della Babilonia seleucide», Mesopotamia, 40, 125-144.
2006, Seleucia al Tigri. L’edificio degli archivi. Lo scavo e le fasi architettoniche (Monografie di Mesopotamia, VIII, Missione Italiana in Iraq, III), Firenze. In stampa «Different Media to Different Subjects? Royal Propaganda and Iconography in Seleucid Babylonia», in Proceedings of the Third International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Paris (2002), J. C. Margueron, P. De Miroschedji, J. P. Thalmann (eds.), Winona Lake (2004).
2006a, «L’edificio degli archivi di Seleucia al Tigri. Planimetria e cronologia delle sigillature», in L’ufficio e il documento. I luoghi, i modi, gli estremi dell’amministrazione in Egitto e nel Vicino Oriente antico, C. Mora, P. Piacentini (a cura di), Atti delle Giornate di studio degli Egittologi e degli Orientalisti italiani (Milano–Pavia, 17-19 febbraio 2005), Bologna, 417 – 430. 2006b, «Eros sulle impronte di sigillo dagli archivi di Seleucia al Tigri», in Varia iconographica ab Oriente ad Occidentem, G. Pisano (a cura di), Studia Punica, 14, 163 – 179.
2006c, «Nike on the clay sealings from Seleucia on the Tigris», Parthica, 8, 17 – 24.
2007a, «Seleucia al Tigri», in Sulla via di Alessandro. Da Seleucia al Gandhara, Catalogo della Mostra di Torino, V. Messina (a cura di), Cinisello Balsamo, 106 – 115.
2007b, «A multi-level approach to the study of the seal impressions», Iran and the Caucasus, 11:2, 195 – 200.
2007c, «Gli scavi italiani di Seleucia al Tigri. L’edificio degli archivi», in Giornata Lincea in ricordo di Giorgio Gullini (Roma, 10 maggio 2006), Atti dei Convegni Lincei, 234, 111 – 132.
2009, «Witnesses and Sealers of Seleucid Mesopotamia: A comparison between the seal impressions on cuneiform tablets from Uruk and those on clay sealings from the archive building at Seleucia on the Tigris», in Witnesses and Sealers of the Ancient Near East, S. Ponchia, N. Bellotto, (a cura di), Padova.
2010, Seleucia al Tigri. Il monumento di Tell 'Umar. Loscavo e le fasi architettoniche (Monografie di Mesopotamia, XIII, Missione in Iraq, IV), Firenze.
2011, «Seleucia on the Tigris. The Babylonian polis of Anthiochus I», Mesopotamia, XLVI, 157 – 167.
2012, « Apollonius at Seleucia on the Tigris?», Mesopotamia, XLVII, 121 – 27.
2012, «Da Babilonia a Aï Khanoum. Teatri greci di età ellenistica e partica a est dell’Eufrate», Memorie della Accademia delle Scienze di Torino. Classe di Scienze Morali, Storiche e Filologiche, 35 – 36, 3–39.
2012, «Seleucia on the Tigris. The New Babylon of Seleucid Mesopotamia», in R. Matthews, J. Curtis (eds), Mega-cities & Mega-sites. The Archaeology of Consumption & Disposal. Landscape, Transport & Communication, Vol. 1, Proceedings of the 7 ICAANE: The 7 International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Wiesbaden, 169 – 180.
2014, «Further Bullae from Seleucia on the Tigris», Iraq, 76, 119 – 136.

1993 «Il problema dell’alikè seleucide alla luce dei materiali degli archivi di Seleucia sul Tigri», in Archivi e sigilli, 145 – 156.
1997 «Sigilli e timbri ufficiali nella Mesopotamia seleucide», in Sceaux d'Orient et leur emploi, Res Orientales, X, 89 – 107.

1968-69 «Excavations in Squares X 6/XXX 96 (“Agora”)», Mesopotamia, 3-4, 53 – 56.
1970-71 «Excavations in Squares CLXXI, 54/55/63/64/74 (Porticoed Street)», Mesopotamia, 5-6, 31 – 40.
1970-71b «Islamic Glassware from Seleucia», Mesopotamia, 5-6, 67 – 104.
1972 «The Excavation in the Agora (s.c. Porticoed Street)», Mesopotamia, 7, 17 – 26.
2002 «The Glassware from Seleucia (Central Iraq)», Parthica, 4, 63 – 156.
2005 «Al-Mada-in: problemi di topografia», Mesopotamia, XL, 145 – 169.

1970-71 «Cuneiform Inscriptions Discovered at Seleucia on the Tigris», Mesopotamia, V-VI, 49 – sg.

1984 «Pottery from Seleucia on the Tigris», in Arabie orientale, Mésopotamie et Iran méridional de l’age du Fer au début de la période islamique, R. Boucharlat, J.-F. Salles (a cura di), Mémoire, 37, Paris, 41 – 48.
1986 «Trench on the East Side of the Archives Square (Seleucia, 12th Season)», Mesopotamia, 21, 11 – 20.
1988 «Trench on the East Side of the Archives Square. Seleucia, 13th Season», Mesopotamia, 23, 19 – 29.
1990, «Trench on the East Side of the Archives Square. Seleucia, 14th Season», Mesopotamia, 25, 13 – 25.
1991 «New Observations on the Hellenistic Pottery from Seleucia-on-the-Tigris», in Golf-Archäologie. Mesopotamien, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Vereinigte Arabische Emirate und Oman, K. Schippmann, A. Herling, J.-F. Salles (a cura di), Internationale Archäologie, 6, Buch am Erlbach, 45 – 56.
1993 «Pottery and Exchanges. Imports and Local Production at Seleucia-Tigris», in Arabia Antiqua. Hellenistic Centres around Arabia, A. Invernizzi, J.-F. Salles (a cura di), Serie Orientale, 70:2, Roma, 167 – 182.

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