Central to the endeavours of the DOG remained, however, Mesopotamia. This work was begun in 1903 in Ashur, the ancient capital of Assyria. Head of Excavations was Walter Andrae, whose main fields of study here up until 1913 were fortifications, palaces and religious monuments, such as those of the goddess of love and war, Ishtar, and the tutelary god of the state, Ashur. Recently the DOG's exploratory work in Ashur recommenced, and is currently under the direction of Peter Miglus.
|Ashur, temple and palaces at the 'Court of Emblems', as reconstructed by Walter Andrae, from Walter Andrae, Das wiedererstandene Assur, 1938|
|Uruk, glazed relief bricks from the Bit Resh,
© DOG, Oriental Department
Similarly a number of smaller field trips were conducted from Ashur to other ruin sites, such as to the royal residential city of Kar-Tukulti-Ninurta, opposite Ashur on the eastern bank of the Tigris, and to the Parthian city of Hatra.
1912/13 marked the beginning of excavations by the DOG in the wide-ranging ruins of the old south-Mesopotamian city of Uruk, from which came the legendary King Gilgamesh, who rose to fame through his search for eternal life. Already one year later work in Uruk was interrupted by the outbreak of World War One, and it was only recommenced in 1928, albeit now funded by the Emergency Association of German Science and later by its successor, the German Research Council. The explorations in Uruk, for which the German Archaeological Institute has held the licence since 1956, have continued to this day.
During the period after the First World War, the DOG was at a very low financial ebb. So central place was given to the task of publishing the results of the excavations. Not until the late 1920s could field research be recommenced in Iraq and, shortly after, in Hattusa.
From the outset, the DOG was strongly coloured in its vision and its material commitment by its large number of Jewish members, including James Simon and Bruno Güterbock. Consequently the National Socialist Regime in Germany brought about a rapid decline in the society. Many of the members saw themselves compelled to emigrate, while others were murdered in the extermination camps.