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Article

Margaret Cool Root

Name given to a people of Persian origin, who founded an empire that flourished c. 550–331 bc.

The Achaemenid Persian empire was founded c. 550 bc by Cyrus the Great. At its greatest extent under Darius the Great (reg 522–486 bc), it stretched from the Indus into northern Greece and across Egypt. The Macedonian Alexander the Great (...

Article

J. D. Hawkins

Site on the west bank of the River Afrin in Syria, about 5 km south of the town Afrin. Attention was drawn to the ancient site by surface finds of sculpture, and a large Neo-Hittite temple of the early 10th century bc was located below five levels of later occupation. Excavations here by the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities in ...

Article

Tahsin Özgüç

Citadel and temple complex of the Urartians, 20 km east of Erzincan, Turkey, which flourished in the 8th and 7th centuries bc. Altıntepe is in the eastern half of the fertile Erzincan plain, on the main Erzincan–Erzurum highway, an east–west trade route of great historical and strategic importance. Systematic excavations began there in ...

Article

E. Haerinck

Area in the province of Gilan in northern Iran that has given its name to a series of ancient objects. Since the 1950s the area around the village of Amlash has served as a local market for clandestinely excavated objects from the surrounding valleys. Although the term ‘Amlash’ should only be used in a geographical sense, to indicate material from ...

Article

Amman  

Adnan Hadidi, Alastair Northedge, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Capital of the kingdom of Jordan and site of a city that flourished between the 2nd millennium bc and the 14th century ad. The site lies in a fertile, well-watered area in the tableland to the east of the River Jordan, on the biblical King’s Highway (the ancient Roman Via Nova Traiana), which ran from Bosra in the north to the Red Sea in the south....

Article

Ammon  

A. R. Millard

Kingdom that flourished from the 11th to the 6th century bc, situated in present-day Jordan. Its capital was at Rabbath-Ammon (Amman). The kingdom was in constant contact and conflict with the Israelites to the west and Damascus to the north. Its pottery bears a general similarity to that on the other side of the River Jordan, with some Ammonite idiosyncrasies in the ...

Article

Dominique Collon, Donald F. Easton, Jeanny Vorys Canby, J. D. Hawkins, K. Aslihan Yener, Oscar White Muscarella and A. Nunn

Region roughly equivalent to the modern state of Turkey. The name Anatolia was first used by Byzantine writers in the 10th century ad, as an alternative to Asia Minor, and is now often used in its Turkish form, ‘Anadolu’, to describe Turkey in Asia. In this article the term ancient Anatolia covers the cultures and civilizations that flourished in the region from possibly as early as the 14th millennium ...

Article

Dominique Collon, J. D. Hawkins, Beatrice Teissier, D. Barag, G. Herrmann, Jack Ogden, Annie Caubet, Joan Allgrove McDowell, Michael Roaf, Vesta Sarḳhosh Curtis, Ian Carradice, G. D. Summers, Seton Lloyd and Geoffrey Turner

Area of the ancient world that extends from Turkey in the west to Iran in the east (see fig.). Although the term Near East is often synonymous with Middle East, the adjective ‘ancient’ is always attached to Near East, and ‘Ancient Middle East’ never occurs. The term ...

Article

A. R. Millard

Term for an ancient people of the Near East, prominent in the 1st millennium bc. Their origins are obscure; they were probably semi-nomadic tribesmen driven from the Syrian steppe by drought. By about 1000 bc they had occupied an arc of land from Babylonia to southern Lebanon. In the east the ancient local culture absorbed them. In the west they took over the cities and turned many of them into autonomous tribal centres, principally Aram (Damascus), Arpad (Bit-Agusi) to the north of Aleppo, Bit-Adini east of the bend of the River Euphrates, and Bit-Bahiani at Guzana (...

Article

John M. Russell

Site in Syria, c. 35 km north-east of Til Barsip on the Harran–Euphrates road. It was an Assyrian town: its ancient name, preserved in two inscriptions from the site, is mentioned elsewhere only in the ‘Harran Census’ (7th century bc). The site was excavated by ...

Article

Marcella Frangipane

Site in eastern Turkey, in the Malatya Plain on the right bank of the River Euphrates. It is a large artificial mound (h. c. 30 m) formed by the superposition of successive dwellings from about the 5th millennium bc to the Islamic period, c. 12th century...

Article

Assur  

Site in northern Iraq, c. 100 km south of Mosul and Nineveh, on a bluff on the right bank of the River Tigris. It was an important Assyrian city, at a natural crossroads for trade connecting Anatolia, Babylonia and Iran, and from the 3rd millennium ...

Article

John M. Russell

Name given to people of the ancient land of Assur (Assyria) in northern Mesopotamia (now Iraq), named after their state god. The Assyrian heartland is bounded on the north and east by the Zagros Mountains and on the south and west by arid plains that receive insufficient rainfall to support agriculture. The area is well watered by the Tigris, Greater and Lesser Zab rivers and their tributaries, some stretches of which are suitable for irrigation, and also by rainfall, which allows most of the region to grow one crop of wheat annually. The Assyrians, a ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time....

Article

Clare Goff-Hill

Site on the Nurabad plain in the Luristan region, central Iran. The site comprises a group of three mounds that were excavated in 1966–9 and revealed complex buildings of the 1st millennium bc with decorated interiors. The most significant remains date from the 9th to 7th centuries...

Article

Babylon  

Site in Iraq, 80 km south of modern Baghdad. It was once the capital and most important city of Babylonia (see Babylonian). It first rose to prominence under Hammurabi (reg 1792–1750 bc) and reached its peak of development under the Neo-Babylonian kings in the ...

Article

Stephan Kroll

Site in the north-west of Iran of a major Urartian castle of the first half of the 7th century bc (see Urartian). Bastam lies c. 50 km north of the modern city of Khoy and c. 1300 m above sea-level. The site is on a steep mountain cliff on the left bank of the River Aq Chay, overlooking a wide, fertile plain. In antiquity several channels were diverted from the river to water the adjacent plains. A major east-west route ran past Bastam, connecting the Urartian capital in Van (eastern Turkey) with territories in what are now Azerbaijan and Armenia. The site was discovered in ...

Article

Bavian  

John M. Russell

Site in northern Iraq, c. 60 km north-east of Mosul. Near the modern village of Bavian, at Khinnis on the River Gomel, is the head of a canal built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (reg 704–681 bc) to supply water for Nineveh. The site is best known for its Neo-Assyrian ...

Article

Bisitun  

Vesta Sarḳhosh Curtis

Site in Iran on the eastern edge of the Zagros Mountains, situated on the Great Khorasan Road, the ancient Silk Road, which leads from southern Mesopotamia to Kirmanshah and eastern Iran. Set high on a cliff overlooking the road is the famous rock-relief of the Achaemenid king ...

Article

Michael Roaf

Ancient site in Iraq, c. 17 km south-west of Babylon. The city flourished in the 2nd and 1st millennia bc and was important for the cult of the Babylonian deity Nabu, god of writing and scribal knowledge. The most impressive feature of the site is the 47 m-high remnant of a ...