ABU HUREYRA, TELL. (ARS) A tell site on the Euphrates River in Syria, 120 km east of Aleppo. The site was excavated in 1972-3, as a rescue excavation in advance of flooding by the Tabqua Dam. Two major phases of occupation are documented: the first, labeled either EPI-PALAEOLITHIC or MESOLITHIC, dates to the 9th millennium bc; it was later reoccupied after a long period of abandonment in the 7th millennium by a settlement of the PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC B culture. It was finally abandoned c5800 bc. The earlier settlement is particularly important because of the light it sheds on the early development of farming in the Levant. A very large amount of plant material was collected by froth flotation and preliminary results available in 1983 already indicate some very interesting developments. The plant remains include large quantities of einkorn wheat and some grains of barley and rye; there were also pulses such as lentils and vetches, and a wide range of other edible fruits, nuts and seeds. The plant remains were all morphologically wild, but it seems likely that the einkorn at least was being deliberately cultivated: many seeds of weed species were found typical of cultivated fields in the area today. Most of the meat food came from gazelle and onager and it is suggested that these animals were being either selectively hunted or perhaps herded. It is clear that the 9th-millennium bc community at Abu Hureyra was already involved in incipient farming activities. The Neolithic settlement of the 7th millennium bc is also of great importance, in this case because of its enormous size: 15 hectares, larger than any other recorded site nof this period (even CATAL HUYUK). Rectangular houses of pise were built up into a mound c5 mctres high; both floors and walls were sometimes plastered and some wall plaster bears traces of painting. Most of the Neolithie levels were aceramic, but in the uppermost levels after c6000 bc a dark burnished pottery appears.
ACELDAMA. (Palestine) Potter's field S of JERUSALEM, in Jerusalem district. According to the New Testament it is the site of Judas Iscariot's suicide following his betrayal of Jesus. The bribe of 30 pieces of silver offered by the priests for the betrayal of Jesus, which was returned by Judas before his suicide, was used by the priests to purchase the field as a burial ground for strangers. ACRE. (Palestine) City and port in GALILEE, PALESTINE, 9 mi NNE of Haifa, on the Mediterranean Sea. Strategically positioned, it was a Muslim city from 638 AD and was captured in 1104 by Baudouin I during the First Crusade, after which it was renamed St-Jean-d'Acre. Thereafter it changed hands several times until being taken by the Turks in 1517. The city was vainly besieged by Napoleon from March 19 to May 20, 1799. It was occupied by the British during World War I and became part of the Zionist state after the War of 1948.
AJNADAIN. (Palestine) Village SW of Jerusalem. In 634 AD Theodorus, brother of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, was defeated here by the Arabs, who subsequently conquered all of SYRIA.
AIJALON. (Palestine) Ancient town of PALESTINE, on the border of the kingdoms of JUDAH and EPHRAIM, 13 mi NW of Jerusalem. It was the scene of the episode mentioned in the Bible in which Joshua commanded the sun and the moon to stand still.
AIN JALUT. (Palestine) Battlefield near NAZARETH. On Sept. 3, 1260, the Mongols under Hulagu were severely defeated here by the Mamluks of EGYPT under Baybars I. As a result SYRIA was liberated and the Mongol expansion westward stemmed.
AIN MALLABA. (Jordan) A large village of the early NATUFIAN period by Lake Huleh in Upper Jordan. Each of the three phases contained about 50 substantial circular houses and open areas with storage pits. The size of the settlement (c2000 square metres) and the well-built houses suggest that this settlement was permanently occupied. The economy was based on the hunting or herding of gazelle, as well as hunting other large animals, fishing and harvesting wild cereals. The houses in the lowest level were between 7 and 9 metres in diameter, those from the upper two levels c3-4 metres. They are built in hollows; many had paved stone floors with centrally placed stone lined hearths, and the superstructures were probably of reeds and branches. One early house, with a paved stone floor and red wall plaster, was later re-used as a tomb of a man and a woman of some importance, the woman adorned with a shell head-dress. Other graves have also been found, containing single or collective inhumations.
ALEPPO. (ARS) City and capital of Aleppo province, NW AR of Syria. Situated at the crossroads of caravan routes between Europe and Asia, it was for centuries one of the world's main trade centers. Originally a Hittite town, it was contested by EGYPT in the second millennium BC and was under the kingdom of URARTU in the ninth and eighth centuries BC. Thereafter it came under many rulers, including the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ar abs. It was vainly besieged by the Crusaders in 1118 and 1124 and fell to Saladin in 1183. Sacked by the Mongols in 1260 and 1401, it only recovered when incorporated into the OTTOMAN EMPIRE in 1517. During World War I, it was captured by the British in 1918, and was made a state under the French mandate of Syria in 1920. In 1925 it was united with DAMASCUS to form the state of Syria.
AL-KARAK. (Jordan) Town in Al-Karak governorate, on the Wadi Al-Karak, 50 mi S of Amman. A stronghold of the Moabites in the first millennium BC, it was fortified by Crusaders in 1142 but conquered by the Muslims under Saladin in 1188. Since the time of the BYZANTINE EMPIRE, it had been an archbishopric and remained a center for Christians until 1910, when they were massacred by the Ottoman Turks. The mighty Crusader castle can still be seen today.
AL KUFAH. (Iraq) Town on the EUPHRATES RIVER, approx.90 mi S of Baghdad. Founded in 638 by Umar I, it was one of the two Muslim centers of the early Ummayad caliphs and grew to be a prosperous city in the seventh and eighth centuries. It was conquered in 890 by Karmathians. The Arabic Kufic script used in the Koran was developed here.
AL-KUNEITRA. (ARS) Town and capital of Al Kuneitra governorate, in the Golan Heights, 40 mi SW of Damascus. Originally a Syrian military post, it was captured by Israeli troops during the Six Day War, on June 10, 1967, and has been occupied by 'ISRAEL' ever since.
AL-KUT. [Kut-El-Amara] (Iraq) Town in MESOPOTAMIA, on the TIGRIS RIVER, 100 mi SE of Baghdad. During the Mesopotamian campaigns of World War I, it was captured by the British on Sept. 28, 1915 and held until falling to the Turks on April 29, 1916, after a five month siege. It fell to the English again on Feb. 25, 1917 during Gen. Frederick Maude's march on Baghdad.
AL-MINA. (ARS) A site on the coast of Syria near the mouth of the Orontes River. It was at least in part a Greek settlement established from Euboea before the end of the 9th century BC and probably called Posideion. It was an entrepot site, and excavated buildings were all probably warchouscs, built to a standard plan. Material of the 13th to 4th centuries BC has been found. indicating strong trading links between Greece and the Near East. In 413 BC' Ptolemy of Egypt sacked and destroyed Al Mina and in thc 4th century Seleucus, a few kilometres north, became the new trade centre. The site of Sabouni nearby has yielded large quantities of imported MYCENEAN pottery of the 14th and 13th centuries BC, showing that the site had a long antiquity as a centre for trade with the Aegean world.
AMMAN. (Jordan) City and capital of Jordan, on the Jabbok River, 48 mi ENE of Jerusalem. Occupied since prehistoric times, it was the capital of the Ammonites from the 13th to the sixth centuries BC. During this time it was engaged in a struggle with the Israelites that ended when King David captured the city c.1010 BC. It was later captured by Ptolemy Philadelphus of EGYPT who rebuilt the city between 285 and 246 BC. In 63 BC it became a city of the DECAPOLIS. Under Abdullah ibn Husain it became the capital of Transjordan, now Jordan, in 1921.
AMMON. (Jordan) Ancient biblical kingdom of the Ammonites in PALESTINE, E of the River Jordan and N of MOAB. The kingdom flourished from the 13th century BC to the eighth century AD. The Semitic Ammonites took their name from their presumed ancestor, Ben Ammi, son of Lot, citizen of the biblical city of SODOM. They warred frequently with the Hebrews. Nahash, an Ammonite king with a reputation for cruelty, was defeated by Saul, the first king of the Hebrews. Saul's successor, David, who reigned from c.1010 to 972 BC, defeated them and captured their capital, Rabbath Ammon (present AMMAN), after King Hanun insulted David's messengers by cutting off parts of their beards and clothes. The war was also over control of north south trade routes east of the JORDAN RIVER. The Ammonites regained independence after Solomon succeeded David as king of the Hebrews in 972 BC. Ammon was absorbed by the Arabs in the eighth century AD. Excavations in Jordan have revealed a highly developed civilization. One of their chief gods was Milcom.
AMRIT. (ARS) Town in Latakia province, on the Mediterranean Sea, 30 mi N of Tripoli. Founded by colonists from PHOENICIA in the second millennium BC, it is today the site of the only well preserved Phoenician temple in the world.
ANTIOCH. (ARS) An ancient city near the River Orontes in Syria. The plain of Antioch was occupied from the Neolithic onwards, but the city itself was founded in 300 BC by Seleucus I after the death of ALEXANDER THE GREAT. Antioch was one of the two capitals of the PARTHIAN Empire and was populated by indigenous groups and Greek colonists. It became a Roman city in 64 BC and was made capital of the province of Syria.
'ANA. (Iraq) Town in Dulaim governorate, on the EUPHRATES RIVER, 100 mi NW of Ramadi. In existence before 1000 BC, it controlled transport on the Euphrates River. In medieval times it was the point of origin for camel caravans bound west across the desert to SYRIA. AN NAJAF. (Iraq) Town in Kerbala governorate, 90 mi S of Baghdad, near the EUPHRATES RIVER. One of the two holy cities of Iraq, it was founded in the eighth century by the caliph Harun-al Rashid. It is the site of the tomb of Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad the Prophet and the founder of the Muslim Shiite sect. It is a starting point for the pilgrimage to MECCA.
APAMEA AD ORONTEM. (ARS) Town in Hamah governorate, 60 mi SSE of Antioch. Rebuilt c.300 BC by Seleucus I Nicator, it was raided twice by the PERSIA of the Sassanid dynasty, in 540 and 611 AD, during its wars against the BYZANTINE EMPIRE. It became famous during the Crusades and was conquered by Tancred in 1111. An earthquake destroyed it in 1152.
'AQABA. (Jordan) Town and port at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, 60 mi SW of Ma'an. Probably built on the site of ancient EI.AT, it was a Roman military outpost on the road built by Trajan between CAIRO and DAMASCUS. Conquered by the Crusaders in 1115, it was a fortress of the kingdom of JERUSALEM until 1187 when it fell to Saladin. During World War I it was captured from the Turks by Lawrence of Arabia. It passed to Jordan in 1924, becoming the country's only seaport. During the Suez crisis it was occupied by 'ISRAEL' from November 1956 to March 1957.
AQRAB, TELL. (Iraq) A Tell site in the area of the Diyala River in Iraq east of Baghdad, excavated by the Oriental Institute of Chicago University in the 1930s. The mound is now in empty desert, but it was clearly a flourishing city in the 3rd millennium BC. Excavations revealed a temple with building phases spanning the EARLY DYNASTIC period. The temple of ED II was large and included the main sanctuary. two subsidiary shrine chambers and living 4uarters for priests. It was apparently dedicated to Shara, patron god of the city of Umma.
ARPACHIYAH, TELL. (Iraq) A small TELL of the HALAFIAN period near Mosul in Iraq excavated by Mallowan in the 1930s. The site appears to have been a specialized artisan village producing exceptionally fine polychrome pottery. The settlement had cobbled streets, rectangular buildings and other circular buildings with domed vaults, inappropriately compared to Mycenaean THOLOI. Later examples had rectangular anterooms. The function of these buildings is unknown: both religious and secular usages have been suggested. In addition to the painted polychrome wares, other finds include steatite pendants and small stone discs with incised designs, interpreted as early stamp seals.
ARAM. (ARS) Ancient country, roughly equivalent to modern Syria, that stretched from the Lebanon Mts to beyond the EUPHRATES RIVER. It was named after the Aramaeans who occupied the region between the 14th and 12th centuries BC, establishing many illustrious city kingdoms in the 10th century BC. Of these the most famous was DAMASCUS. Aram is frequently mentioned in the Bible. The Aramaic language used by Jesus carries its name.
ARSUF. (Palestine) Ancient town of PALESTINE, on the Mediterranean Sea, 10 mi NNE of Tel Aviv. Captured in 1101 by the Crusader king Baudoin I, it became the capital of a Frankish principality. During the Third Crusade, on Sept. 7, 1191, Richard I the Lion Heart defeated Saladin here. Arsuf was conquered and destroyed in 1265 by Baybars, the MAMLUK sultan of EGYPT.
ARWAD. (ARS) Island and port in the Mediterranean Sea, 2 mi off the coast of Syria, near TARTUS. In ancient times it was an important port of PHOENICIA. During World War I it was the first point on the Syrian coast to be occupied by the French, and it came under the French mandate of LATAKIA after the war.
ASHQELON, TELL. (Palestine) Archaeological site in PALESTINE, on the Mediterranean Sea, 15 mi NE of GAZA. An ancient city settled in the third millennium BC, it was taken over by the Philistines in the 12th century BC and became one of their five city states. It flourished under many rulers as a major port and trade center between SYRIA and EGYPT. During the First Crusade, in August 1099, Godfrey de Bouillon defeated the Muslim Fatimids of Egypt here. Captured by Baldwin III in 1153, it became an important Crusader port but was destroyed in 1270 by Baybars, the Mamluk sultan of EGYPT. Excavation of the city's important remains began in 1920. The modern city is nearby.
ASHUR. (Iraq) Archaeological site of ancient ASSYRIA, on the TIGRIS RIVER, 60 mi S of Mosul, in al Mawsil governorate. An ancient city, it was settled in the fourth millennium BC and was the earliest capital of Assyria until replaced by CALAH in the ninth century BC. It was destroyed by the Medes in 614 BC. Excavation of the city began in 1903 under a German team led by Walter Andrae. AS-SALT. (Jordan) Town in al Balga governorate, 15 mi NW of Amman. In the 13th century it was fortified by Baybars, the Mamluk sultan of EGYPT. A meeting took place here in July 1920, at which the British High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, announced that the British government favored the independence of Transjordan, at that time a British mandate.
ASSUR. (Iraq) The old capital of ASSYRIA lies naturally protected on a rock promontory on he bank of the River Tigris in northern Mesopotamia. The earliest levels excavated belong to the first half of the 3rd millennium HC. The remains of a pre-Sargonid temple dedicated to the goddess Ishtar were excavated and SUMERIAN statues were found among the earliest evidence of Sumerian contact outside the southern plain. It is thought that Assur might originally have been a trading post. For over 2000 years successive kings built and rebuilt the fortifications, temple and palace complexes: inscriptions associated with these monuments have helped in the construction of the chronology of the site. The fortifications were rebuilt on many occasions, the latest under Shalmaneser III (859-824 BC) who added a new outer wall. Very little is known about the secular buildings at Assur, as moot work has been done in the temple and palace complex, with the three large ZIG GURATS dominating the city. The largest was 60 metres square and was completed by Shamsi Adad I (c1800 BC). It was originally dedicated to Enlil, but later to Assur; the dedication of the other temples also changed through time. Next to the ziggurats, the 'Old Palace' featured a labyrinth of rectangular chambers and storerooms, with private shrines and courtyards. A later 'New Palace' of which only the foundations remain was built by Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244-1208 BC), who also built a residential suburb outside the city. Representations on cylinder seals suggest that many buildings might have had parapets and towers Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) moved the capital to Calah and by 614 BC the city of Assur had fallen to the Median army. (2) The national god of Assyria, leader of the Assyrian pantheon. The god Assur is represented as a winged sun-disc and was the god most commonly represented on Assyrian reliefs. The emblem suggests that his original nature was a fertility god, rather than the war god he became in the Assyrian state.
AS-SUWAYDA. (ARS) Town in As-Suwayda province, 55 mi SSE of Damascus. An ancient Roman settlement, it has been the center of the Muslim sect of the Druses since the 10th century. During the French mandate, from 1921 to 1942, it was the capital of the state of JEBEL DRUSE. It played a major part in the revolt of the Druses against FRANCE. French forces were besieged here from July to September 1925. It was reoccupied by the French in 1926.
ASWAD, TELL. (ARS) An ACERAMIC NEOLITHIC site in the Damascus basin of Syria, occupied c7800-6600 BC, which has produced important evidence on early farming. From the beginning peas, lentils, emmer wheat and probably barley were all cultivated. The presence of both cereals and pulses showing morphological characteristics of domestication suggests that these early farmers might already have discovered that if these two types of crops are grown in rotation soil fertility is renewed.
ATCHANA, TELL. (ARS) A mound on the AMUQ plain of northern Syria, identified as the ancient city of Alalakh. Excavations by WOOLLEY in the early part of the century revealed occupation levels running from the 4th to the late 2nd millennium BC. In level VII, dated to the 18th and 17th centuries BC, the palace of Yaram Lim 11 demonstrates an early form of architecture which was characteristic of Syria, in which stone, timber and mud-brick were all used, as well as basalt for orthostats. Another palace was excavated in level IV, of the late 15lh and early 14th centuries, belonging to Niqmepa; this consisted of a number of rooms around a central court. In the official quarters a large quantity of tablets were found. These were written in AKKADIAN CUNEIFORM and demonstrate intense trading with other cities, including UGARIT and the Hittite capital Hattusas, involving food products such as wheat, wine and olive oil. Later in the 14th century the city fell to the HITTITES and became a provincial capital of the Hittite empire. It was eventually abandoned after destruction c1200 BC, perhaps at the hands of the PEOPLES OE THE SEA.
ATLIT. (Palestine) Ancient Crusader stronghold on the Mediterranean Sea, 10 mi SSW of Haifa, NW of the village of Atlit. Built by the Knights Templar in 1217, it was the Crusaders' last stronghold following the fall of ACRE. It was abandoned in August 1291.
BAALBEK. (LEBANON) A settlement in the Lebanon, which achieved importance in late Hellenistic and Roman times, especially as holy city for the predatory Ituraean tetrarchs, and as religious centre of the Beqa'a region. Often known by its Greek name of Heliopolis (City of the Sun), it shows magnificent ruins of the Roman imperial period, particularly the Temples of Jupiter and Bacchus.
BABYLON. (Iraq) The capital of BABYLONIA, situated on the Euphrates River south of Baghdad in modern Iraq. The city was occupied from the 3rd millennium BC but became important early in the 2nd millennium under the kings of Babylon's First Dynasty The sixth king of this dynasty was Hammurabi (c1792-1750 BC) who made Babylon the capital of a vast empire, and is best remembered for his code of laws. This period was brought to an end by an attack by HITTITES, and the city had a mixed history until the Neo-Babylonian period of 7th-6th centuries BC - it once again achieved pre eminence when Nebuchadnezzar extended the Babylonian Empire over most of Western Asia. Babylon fell to Cyrus in 539 BC; occupation continued in the ACHAIMENID period. The city was taken by ALEXANDER in 331 BC; indeed, Alexander died in Babylon in 323. Babylon subsequently declined and was eventually abandoned after the Muslim conquest of AD 641. Because of the high water table, which has risen in the last few millennia, only buildings of the Neo-Babylonian period were accessible to the German excavators of Babylon in the first decades of this century. The city of this period covered c200 hectares, divided into two by the River Euphrates. Most work was conducted in the part of the Inner City on the east bank, which housed the palace and several important temples. The fortifications consisted of a double line of walls and a moat connected to the Euphrates, allowing boats to enter under the gatehouse bridges. The most impressive surviving monument is the Ishtar Gate on the north side of the city, approached by a processional way, and decorated with glazed bricks bearing relief figures of lions, bulls and dragons. Important buildings excavated include Nebuchadnezzar's palace, close to the Ishtar Gate, a colossal building with many rooms arranged around five different courtyards; the vaulted store rooms of this palace were formerly interpreted as the base of the Hanging Gardens of ancient repute. Another huge palace of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (605 562 BC) - the Summer Palace - was constructed to the northwest of the Inner City and was enclosed by a triangular outer wall. A number of temples were excavated, including the temple and ZlGGURAT of the city's patron deity, Marduk, which was the original Tower of Babel; little of the structure survives today after centuries of brick-robbing by later Mesopotamians.
BAGHDAD. (Iraq) The present-day capital of Iraq and the Islamic capital from the 8th century to the 13th century. When the Abbasids overthrew the last Umayyad caliph in 750, they decided to move the Islamic capital from DAMASCUS, which was full of Umayyad sympathizers and too close to the Byzantine frontier. Two replacements were chosen and rejected before al-Mansur selected Baghdad in 762. The site is on the River Tigris, at a point scarcely 40 km from the Euphrates, and where the two rivers were connected by canals. Moreover, Baghdad lay on the 'Khorasan road', part of the SILK ROUTE leading eastwards to BUKHARA, SAMARKAND and China. The site was therefore well-watered, defensible and well placed for communications by road and river. Abbassid Baghdad is buried beneath the modern city, and almost all we know of it comes from contemporary writers, such as Ya'qubi and al-Khatib. The focal point was the 'round city', a royal precinct containing the palace, a congregational mosque, ministries and barracks, surrounded by walls and a moat. According to al-Khatib, the architect Rabah recorded thc diameter of the city as 2640 metres. To the south lay al-Karkh, a township which already existed in 762, while to the north was al-Harbiyah, a quarter dominated by army officers. Across the Tigris lay the quarters of Rasafah (begun in 769), ash Shammasyah and al-Mukharrim. In the late 8th and early 9th centuries Baghdad was large and wealthy, and under rulers such as Harun al-Rashid (d. 809) the court had a reputation for gross extravagance. The caliph abandoned Baghdad in favour of SAMARRA in 836, but returned in 882. The city was burnt by the Mongols in 1258, rebuilt and sacked by TIMUR in 1400.
BEIDHA. (Jordan) A NATUFIAN and ACERAMIC NEOLITHIC site near PETRA in southern Jordan. It was first occupied for a short period as a semi permanent camp in the Early Natufian period. The community of this time lived off ibex and goat; 75 per cent of the goats were immature animals, suggesting that selective hunting or perhaps herding was practiced. Beidha was reoccupied c7000 BC by a PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC A [PPNA] group, who lived in a planned village of roughly circular semi-subterranean houses, arranged in clusters. The main meat food came from domesticated goats, while the villagers also cultivated emmer WHEAT and BARLEY, both still in an early stage of domestication, and collected a number of wild plants. In the succeeding PPNB phase there was little change in the subsistence economy, but the form of the buildings changed: in this stage there were complexes of large rectangular rooms, each with small workshops attached. Floors and walls were plastered. There is some evidence that there may have been upper levels. Burials without skulls were found in the settlement and there was also a separate ritual area away from the village, where three apparently ritual buildings have been excavated. Finds from the site include materials that had come from great distances, including obsidian from Anatolia and cowries and mother-of-pearl from the Red Sea.
BEERSHEBA. (Palestine) A Palestinian site in southern Palestine which formed one of the desert frontier posts The earliest occupation belongs to the 12th and 11th centuries BC, but the first town belonged to the period of the United Monarchy (l0th century). The only phase which has been excavated on any scale is Stratum 11, of the 8th century BC. The town wall of this period was a casemate wall, with a great gateway flanked by double guard chambers and external towers. A ring road 15 metres inside the wall divided the inner and outer towns. Between the wall and the road were radially planned buildings including, to the right of the gateway, structures interpreted as Storerooms Inside the ring road there were mostly domestic buildings arranged in blocks. Beersheba may have been the administrative centre of the region and the storerooms may have contained the royal stores for the collection of taxes in kind (grain, wine, oil etc). The town was destroyed in the mid-7th century BC.
BEIT MIRSIM, TELL. (Jordan) A three-hectare mound in the low hill country southwest of Hebron, on the west bank of the Jordan. This fortified settlement has been identified as the biblical town of Kirjath-sepher. Successive occupation layers from the 3rd millennium BC to the Babylonian destruction in 588 BC (with a gap from the end of the Middle Bronze Age, in the later 16th century BC until the second half of the 15th century BC) have helped establish a chronology for the Levant, especially through the detailed analysis of pottery. The town seems to have been prosperous, and stone dye vats indicate that one industry practiced here was the manufacture of textiles. BOUQRAS. (ARS) A 7th-millennium BC PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC B village site near the River Euphrates in Syria. The first occupation phase had two levels with rectangular mud-brick houses. The next four levels had more solid mud-brick houses, some with plastered floors, benches and pillars. The animal economy was based on the hunting of wild animals except in the final phase, when sheep and cattle were bred. On the plant side, sickle bladcs, pounders and querns - used either for wild or cultivated plants - appear in the first phase, but afterwards disappear from the toolkit. Artefacts include a 'white ware', made of mixed lime and ash and used to cover baskets producing watertight vessels. Obsidian occurs in large quantities, indicating extensive trade networks linking Bouqras with the source sites in Anatolia.
BRAK, TELL. (ARS) A TELL site of c30 hectares on the Khabur River in northeast Syria overlooking an important river crossing. Material from the HAIAF and UBAID periods indicates a long history, but the site is best known for its sequence of rich temples of the late URUK and JEMDET NASR periods, when it was clearly an important centre. Most famous of all is the so-called Eye Temple, richly decorated with clay cones, copper panels and gold work, in a style very similar to that found in the contemporary temples of SUMER (southern Mesopotamia). Later, in the 3rd millennium BC, Tell Brak became a provincial capital of the AKKADIAN empire; the palace of Naramsin of this period was more of a depot for the storage of tribute and loot than a residential seat. The city was plundered after the fall of the Akkadian empire, but the palace was rebuilt in the UR III period by Ur Nammu.
BASHAN. (ARS) Ancient country, now mainly in Dar'a governorate, SW Syria. It is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. After Herod the Great became ruler of Bashan, it developed into one of the great granaries of the ROMAN EMPIRE. Under Trajan the Bashan city of BUSRA became the capital of the Roman province of Arabia. It declined after the fall of Damascus to the Arabs in 635 AD.
BASRA. (Iraq) City in SE Iraq, on the Shatt-al-Arab, the only port in the country. It was founded in 638 AD by Umar I, the second Islamic caliph. The city flourished as a cultural and intellectual center into the ninth century, especially under Harun al-Rashid, the fifth Abbasid caliph, who ruled from 786 to 809. Persians and Turks fought over it, and it declined as the ABBASID CALIPHATE lost power. The Mongols invaded the area in the 13th century, and the Turks captured Basra in 1668. In World War II the British occupied the city in 1941. The first Islamic mosque of architectural importance was built here in 665, and the city occurs in The Arabian Nights Entertainments. Its modern importance stems from the oil fields in the area. It has been the object of heavy fighting during the Iran-Iraq war beginning in September 1980.
BEIRUT. (Lebanon) City in W Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea. An ancient Phoenician city, it was a well known trading center after 1500 BC. It was an important city under the Seleucids and even more so from 64 BC under the Romans. A notable school of law existed here in the third century AD. Beirut fell to the Arabs in 635 and was held until 1110 when the forces of the First Crusade under Baldwin I captured it and made it part of the LATIN KINGDOM OF JERUSALEM. It continued in this status until 1291, even though Saladin, the Muslim warrior and sultan of EGYPT, besieged it in 1182. It was part of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE, with the Druses in control, after 1517. When the Egyptians revolted against the Ottoman Turks in the 19th century, Beirut fell to them in 1830; however 10 years later the British and the French intervened against the Egyptians, captured the city, and returned it to Turkish authority. During World War I Beirut was taken by French troops in 1918 and in 1920 became the capital of Lebanon under a French mandate from the League of Nations. The Free French and the British took control of the city in 1941 during World War II, and in 1945 it became the capital of an independent Lebanon. In recent years the city has been the site of important archaeological findings.
BETHANY [Arabic: Al Ayzariyah - Palestine) Village on the E slope of the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem, in ancient PALESTINE. It figures prominently in the New Testament as the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The last was raised from the dead here. Jesus stayed here during Holy Week and left his disciples here for the last time. Bethany is now a pilgrimage center.
BETHEL. (Palestine) Ancient city of PALESTINE, 10 mi N of Jerusalem, central Palestine. Important in the Old Testament, it is connected with Abraham, Jacob, and the prophet Amos. Excavations have revealed occupation levels from c.2000 BC to the sixth century BC, including a flourishing city of CANAAN .
A list of Natural Syria's Leading Archaeological Sites
Compiled by Dr. Adel Beshara
BETHLEHEM. (Palestine) A holy city and shrine, 5 mi S of JERUSALEM. It is regarded by the Christian world as the site of Christ's nativity. It was also the early home of David, the probable birthplace of Benjamin, and the home of Ruth. In 135 AD Hadrian desecrated the nativity site with a sacred grove of Adonis, but in 315 Constantine destroyed the grove and built a basilica. This is now surrounded by monasteries of the Greek, Latin, and Armenian Churches. The grotto under the church is claimed to be the site of the manger where Jesus was born. Other sites within the church include the Altar of the Magi, the Tomb of Eusebius, and the cave within which St. Jerome spent 30 years making his translation of the Bible. The Crusaders captured Bethlehem in the 11th century and made it an Episcopal see, holding it until 1187.
BETH-SHAN. (Palestine) Town in NE Palestine, 19 mi SE of Nazareth. One of the oldest settlements in ancient PALESTINE, Beth-Shan shows evidence of having been inhabited in the fourth millennium BC. It has always been of importance because of its strategic location at the crossroads of trade between EGYPT and MESOPOTAMIA. It was an Egyptian military post from the 15th to 12th centuries BC. Circa 1020 the Philistines defeated the Israelites here under their first king, Saul, and nailed his body to the wall of the town. He was avenged by King David, who took Beth-Shan from the Philistines approximately 20 years later. The Assyrians, the Scythians, the Ptolemies of Egypt, and the Seleucids all held it in later years. After the conquest of Palestine by the Romans in 64 BC, Beth-Shan was one of the 10 cities of the DECAPOLIS, a confederation of Greek cities formed for protection against the Jews and Arabs. Later under the BYZANTINE EMPIRE it was the capital of their province of Palaestina Secunda. The Arabs took the town in 636 AD. Captured by Christian forces during the Crusades, it was known to them as Bessain. In 1519 it fell to the OTTOMAN EMPIRE, which held it until the end of World War I. From 1922 to 1948 it was in the British mandate of Palestine. When 'Israel' was established in 1948, the town was taken from the Arab Syrians and resettled.
BORSIPPA. (Iraq) Ancient city of Babylonia, 12 mi S of the site of BABYLON, in al-Hillah province, central Iraq. An ancient religious center, it was the site of the Ezida temple dedicated to Marduk, the national god of Babylonia. It was built by Hammurabi, who reigned from 1792 to 1750 BC. The city prospered under Nebuchadnezzar from 604 to 562 BC. The ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's ziggurat remain. Borsippa was destroyed in the fifth century BC by the Persian Achaemenid King Xerxes I.
BOZRAH. (Jordan) Ancient capital city of EDOM, 26 mi SSE of the DEAD SEA, near PETRA. An important Edomite stronghold from 1200 to 600 BC, it was the home of Jobab, the second known king of Edom. According to the Old Testament, its destruction was prophesied by Amos and Isaiah.
BUSRA. (ARS) Ancient town of SW Syria, 70 mi S of Damascus, near the Jordanian border. A city of NABATAEA, during Roman times Bostra was the capital of the province of ARABIA. It became a metropolis under the Roman Emperor Philip (244-249 AD) and in the fourth century was the see of a bishop. It fell to the Muslims c. 635. Extensive Roman ruins of black basalt remain, as do an early Byzantine basilica and a mosque.
BYBLOS. (Lebanon) Ancient city of PHOENICIA, on the Mediterranean Sea, 17 mi NNE of Beirut, W Lebanon. Possibly the oldest inhabited town in the area, it was occupied in the Neolithic period of 8000 to 4000 BC. During the second millennium BC it traded with EGYPT. Byblos became the chief city of Phoenicia after the collapse of the Egyptian New Kingdom, but its glory was eclipsed by the rise of SIDON. It was captured by Crusaders in 1103 but was lost to Saladin in 1189. The ancient town has been extensively excavated. The town was an originator of Phoenician script and gives its name to the Bible and to bibliographic terms.
DAMASCUS. (ARS) Modern capital of Syria. A rich oasis city, Damascus was occupied by the 3rd millennium BC, but the settlements of the prehistoric, biblical and Roman periods underlie the modern and medieval city and are therefore not readily available for excavation Egyptian texts and references in the Bible attest the city's importance in international trade from the 16th century BC; it appears as Damashqa in the Tell EL-AMARNA documents. The Aramaeans conquered Damascus in the late 2nd millennium BC and it was subsequently annexed by the ASSYRIANS (8th century BC). By 85 BC it had become capital of Nabatean kingdom; by 64 BC it was a Roman city of commercial and strategic importance and subsequently a major Byzantine garrison. Damascus was captured by the Arabs in 635 and chosen as their capital by the Ummayads, who formed the first Islamic Dynasty and ruled from 661 to 750. Its most famous Islamic monument is the Great Mosque of the Caliph al-Walid, built in 706-714/5 in the temenos of a Roman temple which at the time of the Arab conquest maintained a church. On the south side of the temenos, al-Walid erected a sanctuary with three aisles bisected by a tall nave with clerestory windows and a dome over the central bay. Single arcades surrounded the courtyard in front of the sanctuary and the corner towers of the temenos were converted into minarets. The mosque was adorned with mosaics and marble panels, some of which survive.
DURA EUROPUS. (ARS) A TELL site on the middle Euphrates River in Syria, which was an important PARTHIAN city, serving as a centre for trade, where merchants from areas as far apart as Palestine and Mesopotamia met. The site was occupied from its foundation by the SELEUCIDS in the late 4th century BC, until its destruction by SASSANIANS in AD 256. The walled city was laid out on a grid plan and excavations have revealed many sanctuaries and temples dedicated to the manifold deities of the mixed population that lived there, including Christians and Jews as well as others. Architectural styles, burials, frescoes and reliefs all demonstrate a wide range of cultural and artistic influences.
EBLA. (ARS) Ancient city excavated at the site of Tell Mardikh on the River Orontes in Syria. Recent excavations have yielded evidence of the previously unknown language and history of a powerful state of the 3rd millennium BC. Although the site was occupied from the 4th millennium BC onwards, the period of its greatest wealth and power was in the mid-3rd millennium; a large royal palace of this period has yielded an archive of more than 15,000 CLAY TABLETS inscribed in the CUNEIFORM script in two languages. SUMERIAN and the local language, a Semitic tongue now labeled Eblaitc. Work is still continuing on the tablets, but they have already revealed a wealth of information about the economy, political organization and religion of Ebla. The city was clearly an important commercial centre, exporting woollen cloth, wood and furniture to areas as far flung as ASSUR in Mesopotamia and KANESH in Anatolia. The settlement of this period was destroyed, notably by the AKKADIAN ruler Naram-Sin, but the city was rebuilt and a great palace complex and some wealthy burials of the early 2nd millennium BC have been excavated. The Ebla texts include many Semitic names which recall those of the Old Testament, but extravagant claims of a cult of Yahweh at Ebla and of texts mentioning the biblical patriarchs, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Flood story are without foundation.
ERBIL. (Iraq) The ancient Assyrian city of Arab'ilu and a modern town in Iraq. It has been continuously inhabited for about 8000 years and provides a living example of the formation of a Tell. Because it lies under the modern city there has been little excavation, but it is known From texts that it had a temple dedicated to Ishtar and was a cult centre of importance, second only to ASSUR itself. The earliest records referring to Arab'ilu belong to the late 3rd millennium BC.
ERIDU. (Iraq) The most southerly and possibly also the earliest city of SUMER in southern Mesopotamia. A sounding excavated underneath a ZIGGURAT of the late 3rd millennium BC revealed a sequence of 18 religious buildings. The earliest building was a simple mud-brick shrine resting on virgin sand. By the time of its tenth rebuilding it had acquired the standard form of the Sumerian temple with tripartite plan consisting of a long central room, flanked by symmetrically grouped side chambers, and was built on a substantial platform. The earliest phase of occupation, named the Eridu phase, is dated to c5000 BC; this is followed by the Hajji Muhammed phase and both of these precede the UBAID culture propel; they are often regarded as early or proto-Ubaid. The settlement at Eridu can be regarded as proto-urban from the beginning; it grew into a substantial city by the EARLY DYNASTIC period; and two royal palaces of this period have been excavated. Outside the temple precinct a large cemetery of the late Ubaid period was found; this contained perhaps 1000 graves, of which c200 were excavated. Grave goods include painted pottery vessels, terracotta figurines and baked clay tools, such as sickles and shaft-hole axes. One contained a model of a sailing boat, and is a very early indication of the use of wind power to propel boats.
ERIMI. (Cyprus) A deeply stratified site in southern Cyprus, which has produced evidence of a sequence of pottery styles covering most of the 4th millennium sc. To begin with houses were cut into the rock, but were later built free standing. The site is best known for its single copper chisel, the earliest evidence on the island for the use of the metal from which it derives its name and for which it was famous in the ancient world.
ESHNUNNA. (Iraq) The ancient name of a city under the mound of Tell Asmar, excavated by an American team led by Henri Frankfort in the 1930s. Situated in the Diyala area, to the northeast of SUMER proper, Eshnunna was nonetheless to all intents and purposes a Sumerian city. Although it was occupied from the EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD onwards, politically it was most important in the period after the fall of the Third Dynasty of UR, in the first two centuries of the 2nd millennium sc when it was the centre of an independent kingdom of some size and importance. Subsequently it was conquered by Hammurabi and absorbed into the growing power of BABYLON, after which it rarely appears in the texts and presumably declined in importance.
FAR'AH, TELL EL (I). (Palestine) Site on the Wadi Ghazeh in southern Palestine, excavated by Flinders PETRIE in 1928-30. Occupation levels and tombs dating from the Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were excavated. The most impressive material came from five rich PHILISTINE tombs containing characteristic Philistine decorated pottery, native Late Bronze Age undecorated wares, bronze bowls, daggers and spears; an iron dagger and an iron knife were also found, among the earliest finds of this metal in Palestine.
FAR'AH, TELL EL (II). (Palestine) Site in central Palestine near the head of the Wadi Far'ah. The site was occupied from the Chaleolithie (5th millennium BC) to c600 BC, with a major gap in the later 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. In the 9th century the site is identified as TIRZAH, the capital of Omri before he moved to SAMARIA.
GAWRA, TEPE. (Iraq) A Tell, northeast of NINEVEH in Iraq, which has provided a cultural sequence from the 6th millennium BC to the mid-2nd millennium BC. The earliest material was of the HALAF period, while the succeeding period shows increasing contacts with the southern Mesopotamian UBAID culture. Belonging to this period is a group of three tripartite temples facing on to an open courtyard, very similar to those of the south. The succeeding period is contemporary with the URUK and JEMDET NASR periods further south, but is culturally distinctive; this is often described as the 'Gawra period'. In this period (later 4th millennium BC) there is abundant evidence for differential wealth and social position, manifest in the grave goods found in a number of tombs built of mud-brick or stone. Three of these tombs were particularly rich, containing many goods of gold, electrum, lapis lazuli and ivory, all materials that had to be imported. Several temples of the 'Gawra period' have been excavated; they are of an unusual form with separate portico, not unlike the MEGARON plan. The most distinctive building of this phase, however, is a circular structure known to the excavators as the 'Round House' it has a diameter of c18 metres, a thick outer wall and 17 rooms; its function is unknown. GAZA. (Palestine) A Palestinian site underlying the modern town of Gaza. No excavations have taken place, but it is known to have had PHILISTINE, Egyptian and 'PEOPLES OF THE SEA occupation.
GEZER. (Palestine) An important Palestinian site northwest of JERUSALEM. The results of excavations early this century have been clarified by new work in the 1960s and. 1970s. The site was occupied from the Chalcolithic (5th millennium BC) to the Hellenistic period and perhaps as late as Byzantine times. The first fortified town belonged to the Middle Bronze Age (early 2nd millennium BC); an important discovery of this phase was a 'High Place' - a ceremonial meeting place for the renewal of treaties -consisting of a row of ten tall monoliths. Gezer was destroyed early in the I5th century BC, perhaps by Thotmes III, but there were later important phases of occupation in the Late Bronze Age and in the PHILISTINE period. In the Solomonic period the site had a splendid gateway like those at MEGIDDO and HAZOR. Succeeding levels show a decline, with destruction attributed to Assyrians and, later, Babylonians. The city became important again in the Hellenistic period.
GHASSUL, TELEILAT EL. (Palestine) A Palestinian site north east of the Dead Sea, consisting of several low mounds. Four main occupation layers were revealed by excavation, all belonging to the CHALCOLITHIC period of the 5th and early 4th millennia BC. This site has given its name to the local Chalcolithic culture, which is known as the Ghassulian. The settlement consisted of simple mud-brick houses, irregular in plan, built on stone foundations. Some walls were decorated with remarkable painted wall plaster; the motifs include geometric designs and representations of stylized dragons, human figures and birds, and a sailing boat with oars. Burials were in cists, made of stone slabs and covered by stone cairns.
HALAF, TELL. (ARS) A Tell site on the river Khabur in northeast Syria, close to the Turkish border, which has given its name to a widespread culture of north Mesopotamia and Syria, with radiocarbon dates in the range 5500-4500 BC. It is characterized by a fine painted pottery with designs in black, red and white on a buff ground. The finest polychrome Halaf vessels come from the potter's workshop at ARPACHIYAH. This site and Tepe GAWRA have produced typical Eastern Halaf ware, while a rather different Western Halaf version is known from such Syrian sites as CARCHEMISH and Halaf itself. Although no Halaf settlement has been extensively excavated, some buildings have been excavated: the misleadingly named 'tholoi' of Arpachiyah, circular domed structures approached through long rectangular anterooms. These buildings, constructed of mud-brick, sometimes on stone foundations, may have been for ritual use (one contained a large number of female figurines), but other circular buildings on this and other sites were probably simply houses. The Halaf population practiced dry farming (based on natural rainfall without the help of irrigation), growing emmer wheat, two rowed barley and flax; they kept cattle, sheep and goats. As well as their fine painted pottery, the Halaf communities made baked clay female figurines and stamp seals of stone; these latter artefacts are often thought to mark the development of concepts of personal property (because at a later date seals are used to produce marks of ownership). The Halaf culture was succeeded in northern Mesopotamia by the UBAID culture.
HAJJI MUHAMMED. (Iraq) An early 5th-millennium BC site near URUK in southern Mesopotamia which has given its name to a type of painted pottery and an early phase of the UBAID culture (Ubaid 2). The pottery is painted in dark brown or purplish black in a 'busy' geometric style. Hajji Muhammed pottery is found also at ERIDU in layers stratified between the earliest 'Eridu' pottery and the fully developed Ubaid culture. It is found over southern Mesopotamia, as far north as RAS Al-AMIYA, near KISH.
HAMA. (ARS) A Tell site on the River Orontes in Syria which has produced evidence of occupation from the EARLY NEOLITHIC to c700 BC. Danish excavations in the 1930s revealed a fine palace of the Aramaean period, with evidence of ivory carving.
HARMEL, TELL. (Iraq) Located in the suburbs of Baghdad, Tell Harmal has been identified as ancient Shaduppum, an administrative centre for the surrounding area, ruled by ESHNUNNA in the early centuries of the 2nd millennium BC before Hammurabi's conquest. This small walled town, covering only c1.7 hectares, was excavated almost completely by the Iraqis in 1945. Excavated buildings include several temples, one with an entrance guarded by life-size terracotta lions; a residential area of private houses and some shops has also been excavated. The site produced a large collection of tablets, mostly administrative, but also literary texts and lexical lists of zoological and botanical terms; a famous mathematical text anticipates Pythagoras' theorem. The ancient name apparently means 'place of writing' and the town may have been a centre for priests and scribes.
JERUSALEM. (Palestine) Holy City in Palestine occupied for more than 4000 years. Many excavations have taken place since the 1860s, but because of the long history of destruction and rebuilding on the site, it has been difficult to reconstruct the development of the city. Sporadic traces of 4th- and 3rd-millennium BC occupation occur, but the first substantial settlement with a toun wall belongs to the 2nd millennium BC. The town of this period was on the spur of Ophel, in the southeastern part of the city, and when David captured Jerusalem c1000 BC he retained the existing defenses. Solomon built his temple and palace on the higher ridge to the north. In the 8th-7th centuries, part of the western ridge was also incorporated in the town walls, though the southeast part of this ridge was not included until the time of Herod Agrippa (AD 40-44), in a second phase of growth after the destruction by the Babylonians in 587 BC and later resettlement. Few early buildings survive; one exception is the rock-cut water tunnel constructed by Hezekiah in the late 8th century BC. Some remains of the Herodian and Roman period also survive. Jerusalem is venerated not only by Christians, but also by Muslims, who believe it to be the place where Muhammad began his night journey to heaven. The precise spot is said to be an outcrop of rock in the Haram ash-Sharif, the platform of the Jewish Temple. Between c685 and 691-2, the caliph Abd al-Malik enclosed the outcrop in a shrine, the Dome of the Rock. This is the earliest Islamic building to survive intact and consists of a domed circular chamber, 20.5 metres across, surrounded by an octagonal ambulatory. It is richly decorated with marble, mosaics and beaten metal, which encases the wooden beams. At one corner of the platform stands the Aqsa Mosque which, despite rebuilding in the Crusader and Mameluk periods, contains extensive remains of the mosque of az-Zahir, the Fatimid caliph, who reconstructed it after an earthquake in 1035. The Old City of Jerusalem contains an extraordinary large number of Mameluk buildings: houses, hospitals, bazaars etc.
JEMDET NASR. (Iraq) Site between Baghdad and Babylon in southern Iraq which has given its name both to a painted ware characterized by red and black designs on a buff ground, and to the period when this pottery was in use. This period falls between the URUK phase and the EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD and is usually dated to the late 4th millennium BC. The period is characterized by increasing populations, the development of more extensive irrigation systems, towns dominated by temples and the increased use of writing and cylinder seals; increasing trade and more specialization of craft practice are also features of this period. In all these ways the Jemdet Nasr phase represents the direct predecessor of the full SUMERIAN civilization of the Early Dynastic period.
JERICHO. (Palestine) Known today as Tell es-Sultan, Jericho lies in an oasis in the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea, on a main east-west route. Its long stratigraphy documents almost continuous occupation from before 9000 BC to c1580 BC. At the base of the tell was a NATUFIAN deposit, associated with a rectangular plat form surrounded by stone walls, interpreted by the excavator, Kathleen KENYON, as a shrine. The Natufian deposit was four metres thick in places, but has provided little evidence of other structural remains or of subsistence economy. It was succeeded by PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC A levels, with radiocarbon dates in the range 8350-7370 BC. At this stage the settlement covered a surprisingly large four hectares and was surrounded by a stone wall and a ditch reinforced by at least one massive stone tower. The houses of this period were round and built of mud-brick. The population was already growing emmer wheat, barley and pulses, while the meat portion of the diet was supplied in the main by gazelle, supplemented by wild cattle, boar and goat. It is possible that some of these animals were being herded, although the evidence is exiguous. In the succeeding PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC B levels (with radiocarbon dates 7220-5850 BC), rectangular houses with plastered floors and walls were built; an increased range of cultivated plants was exploited and it is possible that domesticated sheep were kept. Evidence of an ancestor cult is present in the form of skulls with facial features restored in plaster and, in some cases, eyes set with cowrie or other shells. A break in occupation followed the PPNB levels, but there is evidence of some reoccupation in later Neolithic and Chalcolithic times. From the late 4th millennium BC there was a walled town on the site which was continuously occupied until c1580 BC when the settlement, with a sloping plastered ramp HYKSOS type, was destroyed by the Egyptians.
KADESH. (ARS) Ancient Kadesh is a TELL site on the River Orontes, southwest of Homs in Syria. Occupied from the 3rd millennium BC, it is best known as the site of a battle between the Egyptians under RAMESES II and the HITITES in 1286 BC. The outcome seems to have been inconclusive; the Egyptians claimed victory but, if anything, the battle may have favoured the Hittites and facilitated peace between the two nations.
KARIM SHAHIR. (Iraq) An open site on a terrace of the River Zab in Iraqi Kurdistan which has given its name to a culture dated c90()0-7000 BC associated with the transition from a hunting and gathering economy to one based on farming. There is little evidence for permanent structures on Karim Shahir sites and most of them were probably occupied seasonally. The economy was based on hunting, with some possible evidence of herding, while the artefactual evidence also suggests an increased dependence on plant resources: blades with the silica sheen often described as ‘sickle gloss' pierced stone balls which might have been weights for digging sticks, and stone axes.
KHABUR. (Iraq) A tributary of the Euphrates River which provides an important communication route between Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Important prehistoric sites such as Tell HALAF, Tell BRAK and CHAGAR BAZAR have been excavated in the Khabur basin. It has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia and north Syria in the early 2nd millennium BC. Pottery of this type also occurs in level IB at KULTEPE in Anatolia, indicating wide-ranging trade at this time.
KHAFAJEH. (Iraq) Identified as ancient Tutub, Khafajeh is one of a number of TELL sites on the DIYALA River in eastern Iraq excavated by an American team in the 1930s. Three separate temples were excavated. The oldest, dedicated to the moon god Sin, had five levels of the JEMDET NASR period, and five of the EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD. The second temple, named the Oval Temple because it was enclosed by a massive wall which was oval in plan, belonged to the Early Dynastic period also. The third temple, dedicated to Nintu, was also of Early Dynastic date. As well as the Temples the excavators found almost 200 ED graves, mostly beneath the floors of houses; some were simple shaft graves while others had constructed chambers, two being built of baked brick and roofed by CORBELLING. The pottery vessels which constituted the main grave goods contributed greatly to the classification and subdivision into phases of ED ceramics.
KHIRBET AL-MAFIAR. (Jordan) A palatial complex just outside Jericho in the Jordan Valley, attributed on epigraphic grounds to the Umayyad caliph Hisham (724-43). It contained three elements: the South Building, a two-storey mansion, adjoined on the north side by a mosque; the self-contained Bath-house, supplied (as was the rest of the complex) by an aqueduct; and the North Building, which may have been a khan, or guest-house. In front of the South Building and the Bath-house was a forecourt with a fountain at the centre. The buildings are particularly important because they are closely datable within a period when the Hellenistic traditions of art and architecture were being transformed for Muslim patrons, and also because they yielded rich collections of stucco, wall paintings and mosaics.
KHIRBET KERAK. (Jordan) An Early Bronze Age walled town, covering c22.5 hectares, situated west of the River Jordan close to the Sea of Galilee in Palestine. It appears to have been occupied throughout much of the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. The town of the EB III phase, of the mid-3rd millennium BC, contains a massive public building, probably a religious structure (although it has been suggested, alternatively, that it might have been a public granary). It comprises eight circular stone structures, each containing four radial walls not quite meeting in the centre, all enclosed by a massive outer wall, rectangular in plan. The site has given its name to a pottery type, characterized by a highly burnished finish, on a slip with sharply defined zones of red, black and light brown colour; it is sometimes further decorated with fluting. The pottery belongs to the EB III phase and has a wide distribution in Syria and Palestine. It is usually thought to have originated in northeast Anatolia and may have been distributed either by emigration or by trade.
KHORSABAD. (Iraq) Situated 20 km northeast of Mosul in Iraq, Khorsabad was a very short-lived capital of ASSYRIA. Founded by Sargon II (721-705 BC) as a new capital to replace NIMRUD, it lost this role after Sargon's death, when his son Sennacherib moved the capital to NINEVEH. Occupation at Khorsabad continued, but the city was important only during the reign of Sargon. It was almost square in plan, covering c300 hectares. The most impressive remains lie on the citadel which straddles the north wall; they include several temples, a ZIGGURAT and a royal palace. Many of the stone reliefs and Cuneiform inscriptions excavated by Botta in the last century are now in the Louvre.
KISH. (Iraq) Situated on an ancient branch of the Euphrates River, 80 km south of Baghdad in Iraq, Kish was one of the city states of the SUMERIAN civilization. Occupation began in the JEMDET NASR phase and the city was of major importance in the early 3rd millennium BC. It declined in importance later, but remained in occupation until the SASSANIAN period. One of the most important monuments excavated is an EARLY DYNASTIC palace, one of the earliest indications any where in Sumer of the growing power of kings, which was to challenge and eventually over take that of the Temple organizations during the course of the Early Dynastic period. Important remains still standing at Kish include two temples, one probably dedicated to Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, of the 6th century BC.
MARI. (ARS) Situated on the middle Euphrates River in Syria, Mari was a wealthy and powerful city in the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. The city probably dates back to the EARLY DYNASIIC II period and was occupied until its final destruction by Hammurabi in 1757 BC on the Middle Chronology. Among the important Early Dynastic buildings are six temples dedicated to Ishtar, goddess of love, while from the Old Babylonian period evidence of growing secular power is seen in the Palace. The Great Palace was repeatedly enlarged during its 400-year period of use before it was destroyed in Hammurabi's campaign. During the reign of Zimri-Lim, last king of Mari, it covered two hectares and had 250 rooms, including an audience chamber and other reception rooms, as well as administrative and residential quarters. The structure demonstrates clearly the multiple functions of the palace as residence of the ruler, place of reception for important guests, centre for the civil service, and tax and storage depot. An archive of some 25,000 tablets has provided invaluable information about the economic organization of the city state and its international relations, both commercial and political. A room near the archive has been interpreted as a school - the only one known from Mesopotamia, although schooling was certainly an important aspect of Mesopotamian society. The Palace is famous also for its mural decorations: both, representation pictures and geometric designs were painted directly on a thin layer of mud plaster and represent a new and impressive school of decoration.
MITANNI. (ARS) A mid-2nd millennium BC kingdom in the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates in northern Syria. It formed a buffer zone between the kingdoms of the HITTITES and the ASSYRIANS until it fell to the Hittites c1370 BC. The population seems to have been mainly HURRIAN, although the rulers may have been INDO-EUROPEANS. The capital - Washukkanni - has not been identified on the ground.
MOUNT CARMEL. (Palestine) There are several important caves on Mount Carmel near Haifa in Palestine. Tabun Cave has a long sequence of deposits of ACHEULIAN and MOUSTERIAN type; the latter levels include a skeleton of Neanderthal type. The nearly Skhul Cave has burials of eleven individuals, formerly regarded as NEANDERTHALS, but now usually regarded as closer to CROMAGNON, or hybrid or transitional. The Wad Cave has a sequence of Upper Palaeolithic deposits with important NATUFIAN levels at the top and on the plateau outside; associated with this are numerous burials.
MUREYBAT. (ARS) A site on the middle Euphrates c80 km east of Aleppo in Syria, occupied from c8500 to 6900 BC. The site went through three major occupation phases, beginning with a NATUFIAN village of round huts and expanding to cover some three hectares with both rectangular and round houses. The traditional interpretation of the economy of this site is that it was based entirely on wild resources, specifically on the hunting of onager, aurochs and gazelle and on the gathering of wild einkorn and, to a lesser extent, wild barley, lentils and vetch. Recently, however, it has been suggested that the einkorn, though still morphologically of wild type, was being cultivated, as has been suggested for the earlier site of Tell ABU HUREYRA, only 36 km downstream from Mureybat. This view is supported by the fact that wild einkorn does not grow in the area today and it is thought unlikely that it ever did (Mureybat is less than 300 metres above sea level and einkorn usually grows at elevations between 600 and 2000 metres.) The other plants might also have been cultivated and the main animals either selectively hunted or actively herded, while hunting, fishing and collecting of truly wild foods continued alongside the newer activities.
NIPPUR. (Iraq). Situated 150 km southeast of Baghdad in Iraq, Nippur was centrally placed in the territory of the SUMERIAN civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. As well as being the centre of a city state, it played a special role in the life of Sumer as a religious city, centre of the worship of Enlil. Nippur was occupied from URUK times to the PARIHIAN period. Important monuments include a series of EARLY DYNASTIC temples dedicated to Inanna, the temple of Enlil and the neighbouring ZIGGURAT, of the UR III period but later converted into a Parthian fortress. Nippur is particularly important to scholars because of its large archives of CUNEIFORM tablets, ranging in date from the late 3rd millennium to the later 1st millennium BC and including both administrative and literary texts.
NIMRUD. (Iraq) One of the great cities of ASSYRIA, situated on the Tigris River, south of Mosul; in the last century it was wrongly identified by LAYARD as the site of NINEVEH and his book Nineveh and its Remains refers in faet to this site. Unlike many of the cities of Mesopotamia, Nimrud was not a long-lived site occupied from the prehistoric period, but was a new foundation by Shal- maneser I of Assyria in the mid-13th century BC. Its heyday was in the time of Assurnasirpal II (884-859 BC), who made it the capital of Assyria; it remained the capital till c710 BC when the capital was transferred first to KHORSABAD and subsequently to Nineveh. The walls enclosed c200 hectares and a citadel in the southwest corner housed a ZIGGURAT, a temple dedicated to Ninurta (patron deity of the city), another dedicated to Nabu (god of writing) and a series of palaces. The largest and most important is the Northwest Palace, built by Assurnasirpal 11, originally decorated with massive reliefs and with door ways flanked by winged lions and bulls. Many of these sculptures were brought back to England by Layard and are now in the British Museum. In the southeast corner of the city was the arsenal, built by Shalmaneser III (859 824 BC) and yet another royal palace. Perhaps the most famous finds from Nimrud are the delicately carved ivory plaques found in large numbers in the palaces of both the citadel and the arsenal. They may originally have been mounted on wooden furniture.
NINEVEH. (Iraq) One of the most important of the ancient MESOPOTAMIAN cities, situated c400 km north of Baghdad on the Tigris River opposite Mosul in Iraq. The site today consists of several mounds, the main one being Kuyunjik. It was occupied from the 6th millennium bc (a test pit beneath the Temple of Ishtar, the goddess of love, produced material of HASSUNA type at the bottom) until it was destroyed by the MEDES late in the 7th century sc. Even after this date settlement continued, but now on the plain next to the river and it subsequently became a suburb of the expanding city of Mosul. The heyday of the city was in the 7th century BC when Sennacherib made it the capital of ASSYRIA and most of the surviving remains date from this period. They include parts of the city wall, 12 km in circumference, and the great palace of Sennacherib with its splendid reliefs. Some of these reliefs, together with the great archives of CUNEIFORM tablets which constituted the two libraries of Sennacherib himself and his grandson Assurbanipal, were transferred to the Louvre and the British Museum during the 19th century.
NUZI. (Iraq) A TELL near Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Excavations in the 1920s explored levels of the mid-2nd millennium BC. A palace and private houses of the 15th to 14th centuries BC were excavated and finds include some 20,000 CLAY TABLETS mostly recording business transactions.
PALMYRA. (ARS) An ancient oasis town near Tadmor n the Syrian desert, important for its inscriptions documenting the caravan trade, and its monuments which blend Greek, Roman and PARTHIAN traditions and art. Occupation is probably continuous since the 3rd millennium BC, but the town achieved prominence in the 1st century BC by exploitation of the caravan trade. Palmyra also prospered by a calculated and self-interested defense of Roman interests in the area - a role which Odaenathus, a local noble, took over single-handed together with command of the Roman eastern army, when the incompetent emperor, Valerian, allowed himself to be captured by the Persians in 260 AD. His second wife Zenobia, having perhaps first poisoned him and his eldest son, went too far with a grandiose scheme of conquests (including Egypt) and with a proclamation of her own son, Vaballathus, as eastern emperor. Palmyra never recovered from Aurelian's punitive attack, but Zenobia lived on at a villa at Tivoli outside Rome. Surviving remains include the great Temple of Bel, senate house, agora, courtyard-type housing and colonnaded streets. Necropoleis surround the ancient town, and contain remarkable tower tombs, some four stories high, and elaborate hypogea.
PETRA. (Jordan) Dean Burgon's 'rose red city, half as old as Time' was the capital successively of the Edomite and the Nabataean kingdoms of the 1st millennium BC, situated in southern Jordan. The site was important for trade, situated as it was on the main route between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. The town is surrounded by mountains and the temples, tombs and other buildings are cut into the red sandstone. Many of these belong to the Nabataean period of the last two centuries BC, though a theatre and temple belong to the Roman period (after AD 106). Little is known of the later history of Petra, although a Crusader fort survives.
QATNA. (ARS) An impressive fortified city east of Homs in Syria. Excavation has found evidence of 3rd-millennium BC occupation, but the fortifications, consisting of a free-standing plaster-faced glacis (bank), belong to the Middle Bronze Age in the early 2nd millennium BC and were probably constructed by the HYKSOS. The fortifications of this period enclosed more than 100 hectares.
RAQQA. (ARS) City in northern Syria, founded by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 772. It contains a number of important monuments. The city walls, attributed to al-Mansur and reputedly modeled on those of BAGHDAD, were douhle, with towers at regular intervals. The surviving part of the Baghdad gate shows that it had a four-centered arch surmounted by a band of three-lobed niches resting on engaged colonnettes. The congregational mosque, also attributed to al-Mansur, was a rectangular building, 108 metres long and 93 metres wide, with a sanctuary of three arcades, 15 bays across. A large group of 12th- and 13th century carthen-ware with painted ornament under thick alkaline glaze, certainly from Syria, is known universally as 'Raqqa' ware, though there is no proof that it was made here.
RAS AL-AMIYA. (Iraq) A small site near KISH in southern Mesopotamia. It consisted of a small mound, entirely below the alluvium, which was only discovered by accident. Excavations found pottery of HAJJI MUHAMMAD type, now generally regarded as an early phase of the UBAID culture of the earlier 5th millennium BC. Architectural remains were of rectangular houses arranged around courtyards. Occupation continued into the full Ubaid period.
SAMARIA. (Palestine) Central Palestinian town site which was occupied, after a sporadic Early Bronze Age occupation, from the 9th century BC until the BYZANTINE period. Excavations lave concentrated on the royal palace, which was burned down by the ASSYRIANS when they captured the city in 720 BC, and have also examined the HELLENISTIC fort and Roman Temple which occupied the summit of the hill at later dates.
SAMARRA. (Iraq) 9th-century city half way between Mosul and Baghdad in Iraq, excavated by Ernst HERZFELD before the First World War. As well as remains of the historical city, Herzfeld found traces of a prehistoric occupation. He was unable to establish very much about the nature or date of this settlement (or cemetery), but he found a fine painted pottery, decorated in black or brown on a light ground with figures of animals, birds, people and complex geometrical designs. This pottery, named Samarra ware after this site, has since been found on a number of other sites, including CHOGA MAMI and TELL ES-SAWWAN; it is known to date to the 6th millennium BC and to represent a distinct cultural phase. The site of Samarra was subsequently used for an important Islamic city. Following disputes between residents and foreign troops stationed in Baghdad, the caliph al-Mu'tasim (AD 833-42) decided to establish a new capital. After a brief sojourn at RAQQA, he moved to Samarra in 836. This was a new town, built at astonishing speed. The combination of mud-brick and imported labour made it possible to construct grandiose buildings very rapidly and, by the time the court returned to Baghdad in 882, Samarra sprawled along the Tigris for no fewer than 35 km. Apart from the houses, bazaars etc of the civilian population, successive caliphs built the Jausaq al-Khaqani, al-Mu'tasim's palace (836-42); the Great Mosque of al-Mutawakkil (c848/9-52); the Balkuwara palace of al-Mutawakkil (c849-59); the Mosque of Abu Dhulaf, also erected by al-Mutawakkil (860-1) and the Qasr al-Ashiq, al Mu'tamid's palace (878-82). The Jausaq al-Khaqani, the most extravagant complex of all, was larger than Versailles, with walls enclosing 175 hectares of palaces, gardens, slaves' quarters and magazines. The Great Mosque, which measured 240 by 156 metres internally, was the largest ever built. Architectural decoration was lavish, and entire walls were covered with carved or moulded stucco. Samarra occupies a key position in Islamic studies: its monuments are important for art and architectural history, while the excavations of Herzfeld (1912-13) and the Iraq Government (1936-9) yielded a wealth of archaeological finds which appeared to belong to the period of caliphal occupation (836-82). For 50 years Herzfeld's discoveries dominated the study of early Islamic pottery. However, life continued at Samarra after the court withdrew and the mint still functioned in 953. Thus, although we know (from contemporary writers) the dates of the principal buildings, we no longer assume that all the finds are of the 9th century.
SAWWAN, TELL ES-. (Iraq) A 6th-millennium BC site of the SAMARRA phase on the Tigris River north of Baghdad in Iraq. Five building levels have been excavated at Sawwan and by level III the settlement was defended by a ditch and wall except on the west, where the land fell away steeply to the river. Inside the wall were complex T-shaped buildings with up to 14 rooms each. The building material was true mudbrick (while contemporary sites further north used pise, known locally as tauf). A number of graves, mostly of infants, found beneath buildings of level I, yielded a larg number of ground stone objects including fine female figurines and bowls of alabaster. The subsistence economy was based on agriculture (necessary in this arid zone where dry farming could not have been practiced: emmer and bread wheat, two varieties of barley, and linseed were grown, probably by flood cultivation on the flood plain of the river Domesticated animals, including cattle, were kept; a range of wild animals was hunted and fish and freshwater mussels from the river were also eaten. This site, like its contemporary CHOGA MAMI to the southeast, shows an early development towards more complex forms in architecture, subsistence economy and social organization, presaging the development towards urban civilization that characterized the succeeding two millennia in Mesopotamia.
SHANIDAR. (Iraq) A cave in northern Iraq at an altitude of 745 metres. A small village site outside, ZAWI CHEMI SHANIDAR, has produced some evidence for early farming at the time of the ZARZIAN, whose levels at the summit of the cave arc about 10,000 BC. Beneath early Upper Palaeolithic levels are MOUSTERIAN layers, from which come a series of NEANDERTHAL skeletons, several thought to have been killed by rock falls. One Neanderthal was apparently buried with flowers, the clusters of pollen at the centre surviving. Another had apparently had his arm crudely amputated above the elbow, and lived for some time afterwards.
SHECHEM. (Palestine) Modern Balata has been identified as the site of the biblical city of Schechem, near the central Palestinian town of Nablus. There was some occupation in the PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC period, but the first town was built in the Middle Bronze Age, defended first by a free-standing wall, then an earth rampart, and finally by walls of CYCLOPEAN MASONRY c2 metres thick. The town was destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze Age and not re- occupied until the 16th ccntury BC. It was clearly an important city in the Late Bronze Age and it figures prominently in the Amarna letters; however, few buildings of this period have been investigated. This town was destroyed in the 12th century and there was another break in occupation until the 10th century, when it was usurped by the ISRAELITES. The city was destroyed by the ASSYRIANS in 720 BC, after which there was intermittent occupation until its final destruction in 101 BC.
SHURUPPAK. (Iraq) [modern Fara]. Situated on the bank of the Euphrates River in southern Iraq, Shuruppak was one of the city states of SUMER. Excavations by a German expedition in the first decade of this century uncovered important remains of the EARLY DYNASTIC period. The temples produced a wealth of early documents, including administrative and school texts.
SIDON. (Lebanon) Situated on the coast of Lebanon south of Beirut, Sidon was an important trading centre for Mediterranean trade from the Early or Middle Bronze Age and, with TYRE, one of the two most important PHOENICIAN centres. It was partially destroyed by the ASSYRIANS in 676 BC, but grew to Importance again in the ACHAEMENID period. Although it was under Persian rule the population was autonomous, producing its own coinage - the Persian shekel with a picture of a trirerne on the reverse. Because the site underlies the modern town, little excavation has taken place. However, a number of burials of various dates from the 10th to the 11th century BC have been found both in and around the city.
SIPPAR. (Iraq) [modern Abu Habbal] One of the most northerly of the cities of SUMER, situated near the Euphrates River north of Babylon in Iraq. The city was occupied from the EARLY DYNASTIC period and appears to have been an important religious and trading centre. Among the most important finds are thousands of CLAY TABLETS dating to the Old Babylonian and Neo-Babylonian periods. The great religious enclosure dedicated to Shamash was originally founded by Sargon of Akkad, but little is known about this phase, as it is obscured by the buildings of later periods. The Neo-Babylonian period saw much reconstruction and new building: in the late 7th century BC Nabopolassar not only rebuilt the temple of Shamash but dug a canal linking the city to the Euphrates.
TAYA, TELL. (Iraq) TELL site in northern Iraq west of Mosul, subject of a recent survey and excavation project undertaken by a British team led by Julian Reade. The site is a city of the EARLY DYNASTIC and Sargonid periods (mid-3rd millennium BC) and is unusual in that, unlike most Mesopotamian cities, the building material employed was not mud-brick but stone. As a result, and also because the period of florescence seems to have been relatively short, it has been possible to record in considerable detail the plan of a 3rd-mlllennium BC Mesopotamian city.
TELLOH. (Iraq) A TELL site in southern Mesopotamia, excavated by the French between 1877 and 1909. For many years it was thought to be the site of ancient LAGASH, but has more recently been identified as Girsu, possibly a religious centre within the state of Lagash, though not its capital. Telloh has produced a wealth of art objects and CLAY TABLETS, but little attention was paid to the architectural remains in the excavations. Most of the finds belong to the 3rd millennium BC, from the EARLY DYNASTIC, AKKADIAN and UR III periods, and include a large number of CUNEIFORM tablets and many fine statues of Gudea, who was governor of Lagash in the 22nd century BC. One of the most important tablets from Telloh is the so-called 'Urukagina reform text'. Urukagina was the last Early Dynastic king of Lagash (mid-24th century BC on the middle chronology) and the text records a series of weeping reforms he instituted, directed against a corrupt and over-powerful palace bureaucracy.
TYRE. (Lebanon) Important PHOENICIAN settlement on the coast of Lebanon south of Beirut. Continuous settlement has restricted excavation to the Byzantine and Roman levels and information about the Phoenician town comes only from documentary sources. It was situated on an offshore island and had a double harbour linked by a canal, which allowed sheltered anchorage and a safe outlet whatever the wind direction. It appears in ancient documents as a powerful and important trading centre famous especially for the purple dye made from murex shells which was known as 'Tyrian Purple' after this site. It was the parent city of CARTHAGE, which inherited the leadership of the western Phoenician (Punic) cities after Tyre fell to the BABYLONIANS under Nebuchadnezzar in 572 BC. On this occasion the city withstood a 13-year siege before it fell, and in 332 BC there was another remarkable siege by Alexander the Great, who built a causeway to the island from the mainland.
UBAID. (Iraq) ELL of Al Ubaid near UR in southern Iraq has given its name to the prehistoric culture which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of south MESOPOTAMIA. The Ubaid culture has a long duration, beginning before 5000 BC and lasting until the beginning of the URUK period (c4000 BC or later, depending on the chronology favoured). In the mid-5th millennium BC, the Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia, replacing the HALAF culture. The Ubaid culture is characterized by large village settlements and the appearance of the first temples in Mesopotamia, initially modest in scale, but growing to substantial size, and probably an important economic role, by the end of the period. Equipment includes a buff or greenish coloured pottery, decorated with geometric designs in brown or black paint; tools such as sickles were often made of hard fired clay in the south, but in the north, stone and sometimes metal were used for tools. There is little evidence of craft specialization or social differentiation. Overlying the remains of the Ubaid period settlement at the type site was a small but lavishly decorated temple of the EARLY DYN ASTIC period, excavated by Sir Leonard WOOLLEY in 1922. The decorations included statues and reliefs made in copper sheet on a bitumen base or core, a frieze of figures in shell and limestone inlay, columns covered in copper sheeting and others decorated with mosaics of red, white and black stones. An inscription records that the temple was dedicated to Ninhursag, the Sumerian mother goddess, and was built by A-anne-padda, son of Mes-anne-padda. This latter king is recorded by the King List as the founder of the First Dynasty of Ur; this suggests a date before 7500 BC for this temple.
UKHAIDIR. (Iraq) An early Islamic fortified palace in Iraq contained in a rectangular enclosure 169 metres wide and 175 metres long. The enclosure is defended by towers and has gateways on all four sides, the main entrance being to the north. The palace itself adjoins the north wall and is entered through the north gate. The palace is 82 metres wide and 112 metres long. Beyond the entrance is a vaulted hall 15.5 metres long and 10.3 metres high giving access to a courtyard in front of the reception rooms. The rest of the building consists of a mosque, storerooms and four self contained bayts [residential units]. The walls of the outer enclosure survive to a height of 17 metres and part of the palace is three storey high. Sir Archibald Creswell, one of thc greatest historians of Islamic architecture, concluded that Ukhaidir, which may be assigned to the 8th century on the basis of style and construction, was built by the Abbasid prince Isa b. Musa, in 778.
UMM DABAGHIYAH. (Iraq) Early 6th-millennium BC type site of the Umm Dabaghiyah culture, the earliest known culture in the north Iraq plain. The site is small (less than one hectare) but has yielded some interesting architectural remains: long buildings consisting of rows of small cell-like rooms without obvious means of access, which are interpreted as communal storehouses. Ordinary houses also occur, with evidence of living rooms, kitchens and storage rooms. Some wall paintings have been recorded, showing onager (wild ass) hunting scenes. The importance of hunting in the economy is clearly indicated by the animal remains, 84 per cent of which are made up of two species of wild animals, gazelle and onager, although domesticated sheep, goats, cattle and pigs were also kept. Cereal and pulse remains have been found, but because the area is today an arid gypsum salt covered steppe, the excavator, Diana Kirkbride, has suggested that plant foods were imported (in exchange for animal products, such as onager hides). This is one possible explanation, but as Umm Dabaghiyah is only just outside the area where rain-fed farming is possible today, it may be that slightly different climatic conditions in the 6th millennium BC would have allowed dry farming to be practiced then. Pottery is abundant in all the four main phases and includes painted types similar to 'archaic' HASSUNA pottery. Indeed, the Umm Dabaghiyah culture can be regarded as ancestral to Hassuna. Other sites of this culture are YARIM TEPE and Tell es-Sotto further north.
UQAIR, TELL. (Iraq) A TELL site 80 km south of Baghdad, excavated by an Iraqi team in the early 1940s. These excavations uncovered a settlement of the UBAID period and a temple of the URUK period. This temple has a tripartite plan and is very similar to the White Temple in the Anu sanctuary at Uruk itself. It is distinguished by the occurrence of fine polychrome wall paintings with human and animal figures. Fish offerings suggest that this temple might have been dedicated to Enki. A small subsidiary chapel, later in date that the temple itself, contained a fine collection of pots of JEMDET NASR style and four CLAY TABLETS inscribed with pictographic symbols of the kind in use in the Jemdet Nasr period.
UR. (Iraq) One of the most important cities of SUMER, situated in the south of the country west of the Euphrates River, its walls enclosing c60 hectares. Ur was excavated by a joint expedition of the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania under Sir Leonard WOOLLEY between 1922 and 1934. The earliest occupation of the sit, belonged to the UBAID period, perhaps c5000 BC and the most flourishing period for the city was the EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD (c3000 2400 BC). To this period belong the celebrated tombs of the Royal Cemetery with their wealth of goods made of gold, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, and their evidence of the sacrifice of human attendants of the dead kings and queens. After a period of decline, Ur flourished again in the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur in the 21st century BC, which saw the final flowering of Sumerian achievement. The founder of this dynasty, UR NAMMU, built a great ZIGGURAT to the city's patron deity, Nanna, the moon god. The city continued to thrive in the BABYLONIAN period and the Bible claims Ur as the home of Abraham before he left for the west. Later the city declined and was finally abandoned in the 4th century BC.
UBEIDIYAH. (Jordan) A site in the Jordan valley where there are a series of PLEISTOCENE deposits with stone tools dated from POTASSIUM-ARGON indications to between 1.7 and 0.7 million years ago. The lower levels are of OLDOWAN type, while ACHIULIAN types appear above. Some tiny skull fragments have also been found.
UGARIT. (ARS) 2nd-millennium BC CANAANITE city at modern Ras Shamra near the Mediterranean coast of Syria. Although securely identified as ancient Ugarit only in the 2nd millennium, the site was occupied from much earlier and the city overlies a series of earlier Bronze Age, Chalcolithic and Neolithic settlements going back to the 7th millennium BC. The city flourished throughout the 2nd millennium, but its heyday was in the 15th to 12th centuries, when it came first under strong Egyptian influence and then under HITTITE dominance. At this stage the town walls enclosed c20 hectares. Commodious family houses have been excavated and a number of important public buildings, including two temples (one dedicated to Baal, the other to Dagon), a priest's library yielding many sacred texts, and a palace with a very large archive of administrative and economic documents. From these we know that Ugarit was a major commercial settlement at this time and must have housed a decidedly cosmopolitan community. Not only were there tablets in AKKADIAN CUNEIFORM - the lingua franca of trade throughout the Near East - but others, also using the cuneiform script, were in the local language, Ugaritic, and a few others were in Hurrian; some seal impressions are in Hittite hieroglyphics. Moreover, the population of Ugarit may be credited with the development of the first true alphabet: simplified cuneiform signs were used for an alphabet of 32 letters, probably in the 15th century BC. The city was destroyed in the early 12th century BC, perhaps by the PEOPLES OF THE SEA.
URUK. (Iraq) Situated c250 km south of Baghdad, on an ancient branch of the Euphrates River in Iraq, Uruk was one of the major city-states of SUMER. Excavations by German archaeologists from 1912 onwards have revealed a series of very important structures and deposits of the 4th millennium BC and the site has given its name to the period that succeeded the UBAID and preceded the JEMDET NASR period. The Uruk period saw the emergence of urban life in MESOPOTAMIA and led to the full civilization of the EARLY DYNASTIC period. It is not always fully realized how unique the site of Uruk was at this time: it was by far the largest settlement, with the most impressive buildings and with the earliest evidence of writing. It would be true to say that Uruk was Mesopotamia's - and the world's - first city. It seems to have started as two separate settlements, Kullaba and Eanna, which coalesced in the Uruk period to form a town covering c80 hectares; at the height of its development in the Early Dynastic period, the city walls were c9.5 km long, enclosing a massive 450 hectares, and may have housed some 50,000 people. In the heart of the city are two large temple complexes: the Anu sanctuary, belonging originally to Kullaba, and the Eanna sanctuary, dedicated to Inanna - the goddess of love. Both these complexes have revealed several successive temple-structures of the Uruk period, including the White Temple in the Anu sanctuary and the Limestone and Pillar Temples in the Eanna sanctuary. A characteristic form of decoration involves the use of clay cones with painted tops pressed into the mud plaster facing the buildings - a technique known as clay cone mosaic. On the northwest side of the Eanna sanctuary is a ZIGURAT laid out by Ur-Nammu of UR in the Ur III period (late 3rd millennium BC). Evidence from the deep trench excavated in the Eanna sanctuary has cast much light on the developments of the Uruk period. The most important of these was undoubtedly the development of writing. The earliest CLAY TABLETS appear in late Uruk levels; they are simple labels and lists with pictographic symbols. Tablets from slightly later levels of the Jemdet Nasr phase show further developments towards the CUNEIFORM script of the Early Dynastic period. The city remained important throughout the 3rd millennium BC, but declined in importance during the later part of that period. It remained in occupation throughout the following two millennia, down to the PARTHIAN period, but only as a minor centre. Uruk was the home of the epic hero GILGAMESH, now thought to be a real king of the city's first dynasty, and Uruk played an important role in the mythology of the Mesopotamian civilizations to the end.
ZARZI. (Iraq) A cave in northern Iraq which has given its name to the Zarzian final Upper PALAEOLITHIC culture in which microlithic tools are present.
ZAWI CHEMI SHANIDAR. (Iraq) A site of the KARIM SHAHIR culture near the Zab River in northern Iraq, 6 km from the SHANIDAR cave. This open air site provides important evidence of earth stock control, associated with a radiocarbon date of c8640 BC. High proportions of immature sheep, especially in the upper levels, were originally interpreted as indicating incipient domestication, but today this evidence is more often taken to indicate stock manipulation, perhaps herding, rather than domestication. Occupation was probably seasonal and plant resources were clearly exploited, as indicated by the occurrence of querns, grinding stones and storage pits. Other artifacts include stone axes and non-utilitarian objects such as worked bone with incised or notched decoration. OBSIDIAN from the Lake Van area of Anatolia indicates far-ranging contacts. The site also produced remains of a circular stone structure, perhaps a hut, and 28 burials, 26 of which were associated with a stone platform.