As we saw in the previous lessons, modern scientific archeology placed the reconstruction of humankind's past on sound bases of objective, and convincing knowledge, by means of the discovery, recovery, study of a very large number of archaeological sites. The sites brought back to light by means of archaeological campaigns in field archaeology, provide the pieces, albeit fragmentary and isolated, which are contributions, of different importance and meaning, of course, for the reconstruction of humankind's past history. From now on, we will take into account three exemplary cases of archaeological researches and discoveries, respectively dating from the first phase of pioneer archaeology, from the second phase of historical archaeology, and from the third phase of global archaeology, and we will try to understand which contribution they gave for historical reconstruction. and interpretation. The case we will illustrate today is typical for the pioneer archaeology of the 19th century researches: Nineveh, a great city certainly located in Northern Iraq, known as the rich, powerful, and cruel capital of the Assyrian Empire in the Biblical and Classical sources. Though several European travelers had visited the region, by the half of the 19th century, when the situation in Northern Iraq started to be quite calm, no one really knew where the celebrated capital of Assyria was, and yet someone suggested that it might be in front of modern Mosul. This intuition was correct. In 1842, France was allowed, from the Ottoman Empire to send a consul to Mosul, in the person of the young French scientist Paul-Émile Botta: this scholar of the French Academy asked him to find Nineveh. Botta thought he had found Nineveh in a very important archaeological site, Khorsabad, nearly 15 km north of Mosul, which was, on the contrary, another Assyrian capital, Dur-Sharrukin, founded in 706 BC, by the great Sargon II. This is the place of Dur-Sharrukin, not far from Nineveh. The rivalry between France and England, at that time very strong both in the political and in the cultural fields, led the British to send a consul to Mosul, in their turn, a few months later on. Also Austen Henry Layard largely excavated another site, Nimrud, this time south of Mosul, believing it to be Nineveh, but it also was another Assyrian capital, namely ancient Kalah. This is the citadel of Nimrud. Yet, by the end of his permanence in Mosul, Layard started to excavate in the very large area east of Mosul, which still kept the distorted ancient name of Nineveh, namely Ninawa, where a large hill stood, called Quyunjiq: this was really the citadel of ancient Nineveh, stretching around Quyunjiq for nearly 750 ha in surface. All these region, is the place of the ancient town. By the half of the 4th century BC, Rome, already one of the largest towns in the Mediterranean, within the nearly 11 km long walls, was only 426 ha large. The excavations of Layard and his successors at Quyunjiq brought to light the remains of two wonderful palaces, the royal residences of two great kings of Assyria of the 7th century B.C., namely Sennacherib and Ashshurbanipal. With this excavations hundreds of Assyrian reliefs of war, and chase, decorating tens of halls of the two royal palaces, and which were often in quite a good state of preservation were brought to light. Moreover, in these palaces nearly 30,000 cuneiform tablets were found, belonging to what was called “Ashshurbanipal's library”, namely a large amount of texts including a large number of documents of different kinds, from the royal archives of several of the last sovereign of Assyria, and also many literary, lexical, mantic, astronomical, grammatical documents, for the largest part made in Babylon. The importance of these discoveries is unparalleled in the whole history or archeology in Mesopotamia. These spectacular reliefs from the Nineveh palaces were the first extraordinary core of the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities of the British Museum, as the Khorsabad reliefs where the first core of the Musée Assyrian of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The tablets of “Ashshurbanipal's library”, on the other hand, for the exceptional variety of texts, allowed, since the foundation of Assyriology, to know a large part of the most important texts written by the civilizations of Babylonia and Assyria, because many texts had been explicitly copied in the main sanctuaries of Babylonia on Ashshurbanipal’s appointment, in order that, in the palaces of power of the Lords of Assyria, all the treasures of learning and tradition of the Mesopotamia world were present. For these findings, and for other discoveries of tens of thousands of tablets, the British Museum of London is actually the richest museum in the world for the text from ancient Mesopotamia. The reliefs from the palaces of Quyunjiq and the texts from “Ashshurbanipal's library” made it possible that, already one of the very first excavations of Oriental archaeology, by the half of the 19th century, made some of the main masterpieces of the art of Mesopotamia, as well as many texts foundamental for the understanding of the civilization Mesopotamia could be known. An important consequence of the excavations in the great capital towns of Assyria, which were buried under the hills of Quyunjiq, Khorsabad, and Nimrud, was that the large amount of cuneiform texts brought to light, which were originally historical sources of primary importance, the numerous artistic artifacts of exceptional historical and aesthetical importance, the massive architectural structures of the royal palaces of Assyria immediately released Oriental archeology from the inspiration, perspective, and conditioning of the Biblical texts. As huge amounts of original written documents, and monuments of those very ancient periods were becoming available, it was no more a necessary to turn to the texts of the Old Testament in order to direct the research, because those biblical sources were indirect, and secondary with regard to the ancient Mesopotamian world, and had a much lesser value than the contemporary documents archeology allowed to retrieve. For this reason, the inspiration, perspective, and conditioning of the biblical text in the field of Oriental archeology were left only in some prevailing sector of the Palestinian archeology, but they lost attraction for the remaining sectors of Oriental archaeology: from Mesopotamia to Anatolia and to Syria. As always happened in all excavations made at the beginning of Oriental archaeology, the operations made at that time didn't touch but for very small part of the very large extension of ancient Nineveh, and brought to light but a very small part of the settlement of the wonderful capital town of Assyria. Moreover, the techniques employed by Layard and his successors, who often made true galleries in the hill of Quyunjiq, in order to follow the big orthostats still in place, carrying the beautiful carved reliefs, were generally quite inadequate, so much of the evidence from excavations was lost. For these reasons, immediately after the First World War, excavations at Quyunjiq were resumed by a new British archaeological expedition, which worked only a few years, without important results, while, in the 90s of the last century, excavations were resumed by an important American Expedition, led by David Stronach of the UCLA: this last expedition, which had to stop for the war which affected the whole Iraq, was set up according the methods of stratigraphic archaeology, and most of all, it engaged itself for the first time in several sectors of the very extended urban area, with the aim to resume in the following years, also the exploration of the citadel of Quyunjiq. Important elements were retrieved in this explorations of last century, which allowed to trace a sound, albeit quite incomplete, reconstruction of historical development of Nineveh, which was a very important settlement since the beginning of urbanization in Mesopotamia, during the so-called Proto-Historical age, in the 4th millennium BC. During the 70s and 80s of the 20th century, a period of strong social economic development of Iraq, between the second British exploration, and the American excavations, the strong economic development started to create serious threats for the preservation of the urban area, because the territory of the very extended lower town on ancient Nineveh started to be invaded by the urban development of modern Mossul on the left bank of the Tigris. In this situation of strong danger for the safeguard of the urban area of one of the most important historical centers of the whole Orient, the archaeological Authorities of Iraq took four quite appropriate decisions: first, they declared the whole area of Nineveh archaeological area of primary importance; second, they decided that the whole area should become a park, in order to prevent houses building; third, they started a massive program of excavation and restoration of the outer fortifications, and of the monumental city gates; four, they decided to restore the imposing remains of Sennacherib's palace, and to make a museum in the open. These measures succeeded in stopping the loss of a large part of Nineveh archaeological area. The tragic events of the last years in Iraq have, of course, provoked important damages at Nineveh, because, with a very much weakened control by the archaeological authorities, the modern building activities have started again, and quite a number of exposed reliefs in Sennacherib's Palace were damaged, and in part also removed. At the end of this lesson, one question. Is it still possible to save an archaeological site so extraordinarily important, like Nineveh? It is certainly possible if one goes on with the road wisely started by the Iraqi Authorities, exercising a strong control over the ancient area, effectively restoring the remains of the ancient buildings, starting new excavations, which clearly show to the public the great historical importance of that territory, and organizing, under the direction and the coordination of the Iraqi Authorities, a wide international cooperation for the exploration, preservation and the restoration of Nineveh.