Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

portrait of Neil Brenner

Mehrnoush Soroush

Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU)

I am a landscape archaeologist who examines the intersection between urban and water history in the Ancient Near East. I got my Ph.D. from New ­­­York University (ISAW) and my MA in Architecture from the University of Tehran, Iran. My research explores the extent to which the resilience of ancient cities was tied to their ability to adapt to environmental changes and socio-political developments through adopting new hydraulic strategies and technologies. I am particularly interested in examining the water history of the Parthian, Sasanian, and Islamic periods, the periods that often fall on the margins or outside the scope of traditional Near Eastern archaeological research. My interdisciplinary approach draws on all available data, including archaeological fieldwork, textual and archival research, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing, and computational methods. Previously, I (re)-examined the history of canal irrigation in the Sasanian and early Islamic periods in southwestern Iran. As the Assistant Director of the Harvard-led Erbil Plain Archaeological Survey (EPAS), I am now investigating the water history in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in particular the timing and cause(s) of the shift of historically dry-farmed plain to one irrigated by subterranean qanat systems (locally known as karez) that dominated the landscape in the later medieval periods.

Mehrnoush is the director of the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes, a GIS lab and geospatial hub for research and teaching on human-environment interactions through time.

Courses regularly taught:

  • Ancient Landscapes I NEAA 20061
  • Ancient Landscapes II NEAA 20062