Ziyaret Tepe – Alex Hirtzel

Ziyaret Tepe is an ancient Assyrian settlement, located on the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey. The site was largely undisturbed until 1997, when the threat of destruction by floodwaters led to the formation of an international collaborative archaeological project.

River Tigris

River Tigris

In the Summer of 2014, Alex was delighted to be able to work as an artist alongside the archaeological excavation team, cataloguing and classifying the finds at the dig house. Alex has always been fascinated by archaeological methodologies, having previously worked with Dino Politis in Jordan at Deir Ain Abata, “Lot’s Spot.”

Azera examines finds in the dighouse conservation

Whilst in the dig house she drew bones laid out for sorting and potsherds laid out for dating; gathered images of the conservators’ table; through a microscope the dust and seed particles scraped from the throne room floor; and the impressive piles of non diagnostic ceramic pot sherds.

Alex drew with pen and ink all day. Back in her studio she has retold stories from these drawings, picked up references, and re-ordered them from the mythical age 3000 years ago into a new fictitious narrative of her own myths. She mostly made layered prints and objects in clay which she has exhibited in three exhibitions.

dsc_0443 img_6995 dsc_0399

They have been laid out as installations, in a domestic cabinet of curiosities, in a suitcase, on a trestle table, in a chest of drawers. She has made ceramic caskets, memorials (like so many broken potsherds repaired through time) to the lost, unspoken many who once lived at Ziyaret Tepe and worked to make it the important place it once was.

The women especially have an amazing story. For instance, from the small cuneiform clay tablet listing the names of 144 women, Alex has re-told their story, imagined in clay, which also links to current migrations.

“They stand on the shore, waiting for the sign to tell them it is time, time to step into the boat, with their child, to take them to their new life. They wait to see what will become of them, uprooted and frightened. They are now under the authority of another administration. The list states their name and the village they are assigned to, or whether they are “at the disposal of” named supervisors.”

Leave a Reply