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Article

Armant  

M. S. Drower

[anc. Gr. Hermonthis; Copt. Ermont]

City in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, some 10 km south of Luxor. It was at first called Iunu-Shema (Egyp.: ‘the southern Heliopolis’) and Iunu-Montu (Egyp.: ‘Heliopolis of the war-god Montu’), from which subsequent names derive. It was the capital of the fourth nome (administrative province) of Upper Egypt throughout the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), until the rise of the city of Thebes. Armant was the original home of the Mentuhotpe family, the founders of the 11th Dynasty. Preliminary excavations in the town area (1935–7) uncovered stone relief blocks of many periods; a few delicate reliefs of the 11th Dynasty show Sankhkare Mentuhotpe III in the company of Montu and his consorts the goddesses Iuniyt and Teneniyt. Some lower courses of a New Kingdom temple were uncovered, including the base of an 18th Dynasty Pylon bearing a depiction of a lively procession of Nubian captives headed by a rhinoceros. A granite stele, found near by, records various exploits, such as the capture of a rhinoceros by Tuthmosis III....

Article

Ismail Hijara

Prehistoric site in northern Iraq situated c. 6 km north-east of Nineveh and 9 km east of the River Tigris. Its low mound (120 m in diameter and 11.5 m high) was excavated by Max Mallowan in 1933 and by Ismail Hijara in 1976. These excavations show that Arpachiyah was occupied during the Halaf (c. 5200–c. 4500 bc) and Ubaid (5th millennium bc) periods (see Mesopotamia, §I, 2, (i), (a),1). The finds made in 1933 were divided between the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and Mosul and various other institutions, including the British Museum, London, and the Institute of Archaeology, London University. The finds of 1976 are all in Iraq.

The Halaf settlement is represented by a deposit 7.5 m deep occupying the whole site. On the basis of the finds in this deposit a framework for the classification of Halaf pottery was first established, which has since been elaborated. Arpachiyah provides most of the evidence for the Halaf sequence and is therefore a key site for comparative studies with other sites. Such an accumulation presumably reflects a lengthy occupation and may represent the full extent of the Halaf cultural period. It is the only site so far to yield a wide range of stratified pottery of the Early Halaf period....

Article

Marcella Frangipane

[ Malatya]

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 ad. It was a strategic political and economic centre, especially in the Late Uruk period (c. 3300–c. 2900 bc), and was important in the cultural contexts of both Mesopotamia and Anatolia, ancient. Finds from the excavations are housed in the Malatya Museum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.

Excavations in the southern area of the mound have revealed a stratified succession of four monumental public buildings of mud-brick at a depth of c. 8 m; radiocarbon dating has suggested that these structures were built c. 3300–3000 bc. Most have thick walls and stone foundations, and contain several rooms. Many niches, plastered and painted white, or more rarely red, are set in the interior walls. Building I, the most recent, has a recognizable temple plan with a rectangular cella containing a central podium and a basin for sacrifices against the end wall; on one side are two communicating rooms for storage. The walls of the main room are richly decorated with concentric ovals stamped with a mould, comparable to an example from southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in Uruk itself....

Article

Asine  

Robin Hägg

[now Kastraki]

Coastal site in the north-eastern Peloponnese in southern Greece, 8 km south-east of Navplion. Centred around an easily defended rocky promontory (acropolis), the settlement is remarkable for its long, almost uninterrupted history of habitation, from at least c. 4000 bc to c. ad 400. It flourished during the Bronze Age (c. 4000–c. 1050 bc) and in the Geometric and Hellenistic periods (c. 900–c. 725 bc and 336–27 bc). First mentioned in the Homeric epic The Iliad (II.560; Catalogue of Ships), it was identified in modern times by E. Curtius in 1852 and excavated by Swedish expeditions in 1922–30 and 1970–90. The finds are in the Navplion Archaeological Museum, among them a terracotta head of less than life-size from the 12th century bc, known as the Lord (or Lady) of Asine (see Helladic, §V, 2, (i)).

On the north-west slope of the acropolis there was an almost continuous habitation: especially remarkable are an apsidal house of the Early Helladic period (...

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 Semitic people speaking a dialect of Akkadian, appear in the historical record as traders at the beginning of the 2nd millennium bc and developed into an important power in Mesopotamia and then throughout the Ancient Near East until the fall of their empire in 612 bc. The most important Assyrian cities in the 2nd millennium ...

Article

Aswan  

Edda Bresciani

[anc. Egyp. Abu, Swenet; Copt. Sawan; Gr. Syene]

Egyptian city at the northern end of the first Nile cataract, c. 900 km south of Cairo. The modern town chiefly stretches along the eastern bank of a sandstone valley, which also contains numerous islands formed by the granite outcrops of the cataract; its ancient monuments are found on both the east and west banks and on some of the islands.

In ancient times Aswan was a garrison town marking the traditional boundary between Egypt and Nubia; as such it served as the capital of the first nome (province) of Egypt and the seat of its governors. The town’s wealth was generated by its position on an important trade route between the Nile Valley and the African lands to the south and by its granite quarries, which provided the material for countless ancient monuments. The islands of the cataract enjoyed religious status as the mythological source of the annual Nile inundation, while the Temple of Isis at ...

Article

Asyut  

Diana Magee

[Assiut; anc. Djauty, Gr. Lycopolis, Arab. Siūt]

Capital city of the 13th Upper Egyptian nome (administrative province), situated on the west bank of the Nile at the end of the caravan route from the el-Kharga oasis. The ancient town, with its temple dedicated to Wepwawet, the local canine deity, probably lies under the modern one. The necropolis was excavated by Emile Chassinat in 1903. The most important periods at Asyut were the Herakleopolitan (c. 2130–c. 1970 bc), when Asyut supported the northern kings against Thebes, and the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc), although two Ramesside tombs have also been found.

The rock-cut tombs of the Herakleopolitan nomarchs are single-chambered, containing biographical inscriptions describing campaigns against the south. The Middle Kingdom tomb of Hepdjefa I, famous for its texts of contracts with funerary priests, introduced a new type: a series of chambers leading to a central shrine at the rear. The scanty remains of the reliefs indicate that a school of fine craftsmen was established in the Herakleopolitan period, producing good, formal work at a time when other provincial art was eccentric. A scene of soldiers in the tomb of ...

Article

Dominique Collon

[ Açana ; anc. Alalakh]

Site in the Amuk region, on the River Orontes in south-eastern Turkey, which is crucial for the study of Syrian history and art in the 2nd millennium bc. The low mound was excavated by Leonard Woolley from 1936 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1949. Finds are mostly in Antakya (Hatay Mus.), London (BM) and Oxford (Ashmolean). A deep sounding produced material dated by Woolley to the early 3rd millennium bc, but it is now acknowledged that the site was probably first occupied c. 2000 bc. It was destroyed by the Sea Peoples just after 1200 bc.

In level VII a palace was excavated, which was in use from c. 1725 bc for about a century; the plan underwent several alterations. The main reception-room had a columned entrance and a stairway to one side. A range of administrative rooms and another staircase lay to the south of a courtyard and here elephant tusks and the palace archive were found. From the clay tablets, written in Akkadian in the cuneiform script of Mesopotamia, it is known that this was the palace of the rulers of ...

Article

Ann Bomann

[anc. Egyp. Hwt-hery-ib; now Tell Atrib]

Site in Egypt, just north-west of Benha in the Nile Delta. The capital of the 10th nome administrative province of Lower Egypt, the town’s religious name, Kemwer (the ‘Great Black One’), was applied to the original local god (personified as a bull), the nome and the city itself. Subsequently the major deity was Khentekhtai, at first represented as a crocodile and additionally, from the 12th Dynasty (c. 1938–c. 1756 bc), as a falcon; mummified falcons dating from the Late Period (c.750–332 bc) have been found. The heart of Osiris was believed to be buried at Athribis, and Isis, Hathor, Sekhmet and Khwit, the major goddess after the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), also had cults there. It was also the birthplace of Amenhotpe, son of Hapu, royal architect to Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). Apart from partial soundings and occasional discoveries by the Napoleonic expedition (...

Article

Avaris  

M. Bietak

[now Tell el-Dab‛a, eastern Delta, Egypt]

Ancient capital of Egypt that flourished during the Hyksos period (c. 1640–c. 1530 bc). The Greek name ‘Avaris’ derives from an ancient Egyptian name meaning ‘royal fortified settlement of the district’. The northern part of Tell el-Dab‛a was at first occupied by the town of Rowaty in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc). Avaris itself was founded c. 1720 bc as the capital of a local Delta kingdom independent of the ruling 13th Dynasty. The community was at that time largely of Syrian origin, employed originally by the Egyptian navy and treasury. A local Asiatic dynasty took control of Avaris and continued the existing cult of the god Seth. During the subsequent Hyksos rule (15th Dynasty, c. 1640–c. 1532 bc) Egypt was governed by monarchs of Asiatic origin. According to a late tradition of Flavius Josephus, Avaris was strongly fortified, and Egyptian sources suggest that it served as the ...

Article

Avebury  

Rob Jameson

Village in Wiltshire, south-west England, the site of a Late Neolithic ceremonial complex, including a massive Henge and stone circle (see fig.; see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2, (iv), (a); Megalithic architecture, 2). The Avebury monuments are close to the contemporary earthwork at Silbury Hill, the earlier causewayed camp at Windmill Hill and the megalithic tomb at West Kennet. Alexander Keiller excavated and partially restored Avebury in the 1930s.

At the centre of the complex is the great henge, consisting of a ditch (originally 9 m deep) and an outer bank. Sherds of Windmill Hill ware, Peterborough ware and Grooved ware pottery were excavated from the bottom of the ditch. No material from Avebury has yet been dated by radiocarbon analysis, but finds of these pottery types and comparison with other large henges in the locality (such as Durrington Walls) suggest that construction began after c. 2500 bc. The ditch may have been dug in sections allotted to gangs of workers, which would explain irregularities in the shape of the earthworks, as well as the barely circular layout of the stone ring (diam. ...

Article

D. Evely

Minoan site, possibly Palatial, on a ridge at the west end of the Mesara plain in southern Crete, inhabited from c. 3800 to c. 1100 bc. The relationship between this important centre and Phaistos, only 3 km away, during the Neo-Palatial period (from Middle Minoan (mm) iii to Late Minoan (lm) i, c. 1675–c. 1425 bc) is uncertain. Ayia Triada may have been a summer palace, or a wealthy dependent estate, and was perhaps the ‘da-wo’ referred to in the Linear B tablets. Excavation was begun by Frederico Halbherr (1902–14) and has been continued most recently by Vincenzo La Rosa (1977 onwards). For the most part, finds are in the Archaeological Museum, Herakleion.

Neolithic material is known, but is haphazardly distributed. The Pre-Palatial period (from Early Minoan i to mm ia, c. 3500/3000–c. 1900 bc) is represented by localized deposits, wall traces and two tholoi with later, external annexes, most of which are to the north-east of the main site. ...

Article

Babylon  

[Akkad. Bab-ilim: ‘gate of god’]

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 6th century bc and was occupied until Sasanian times. Babylon was excavated by Austin Henry Layard (1850), Fulgence Fresnel (1852), Hormuzd Rassam (1879–82), and Robert Koldewey and Walter Andrae (1899–1917). Since 1958, excavations have been carried out by the Directorate-General of Antiquities, Baghdad, and the German Archaeological Institute. Finds from the early excavations are divided between the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. More recent finds are in Baghdad (Iraq Mus.) and in a museum on the site.

Babylon was the largest settlement in ancient Mesopotamia, extending over an area of some 850 ha. The oldest known reference attests the construction of a temple in Akkadian times (late 3rd millennium ...

Article

Joan Oates

People of the ancient region of Babylonia, the southern part of ancient Mesopotamia. Babylonia occupied an area approximately from the latitude of Baghdad (Iraq) to the Gulf. It is a flat and very fertile alluvial plain, laid down by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, with vast areas of marsh and lagoon immediately north of the Gulf. The ancient boundary between Babylonia and Assyria to the north was a major subject of contention between these two powers, fluctuating between the region of Sippar, north of Babylon, and that of Kirkuk, to the east of Assur itself. The territory of Babylonia included ancient Akkad (see Akkadian), whose name reflected the presence of Semitic speakers of Akkadian and whose capital was Agade, founded by Sargon of Akkad (c. 2300 bc). Its foremost ancient city, however, was undoubtedly Kish, to judge by the later importance of the title ‘King of Kish’. The southern part of Babylonia was ancient ...

Article

Paul T. Nicholson

[al-Badāri]

Site in Egypt on the east bank of the Nile, where a predynastic cemetery and settlement were meticulously excavated and recorded by Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton-Thompson in 1922–5. They uncovered some 650 prehistoric pit graves and associated artefacts, which formed the basis for the definition of the so-called Badarian period (c. 6000/5500–c. 4000 bc). The Badarian graves were shallow and roughly oval, with sides sloping towards the base, probably originally roofed with sticks or matting. The deceased were each laid in a loose foetal or sleeping position, with their faces looking west, and there is no evidence of any deliberate attempt to preserve the bodies.

Most distinctive among the associated artefacts is the fine pottery, consisting of three types of thin-walled, handmade vessels: ‘Polished Red’, ‘Polished Black’ and ‘Black-topped Polished Red or Brown’. Some of this pottery had a ripple-burnished surface, created either by rubbing a rounded pebble over the leather-hard clay or by combing ripples into the wet clay and then burnishing when leather-hard. The manner of production of the black-topped ware remains a matter of debate. The shapes of the pots were usually simple and mostly bowls....

Article

A. J. Mills

[Arab. al-Baḥriyya; Bahria Oasis]

Site in Egypt, just south of the latitude of Cairo and about 200 km west of the Nile, occupied from the 17th Dynasty (c. 1630–c. 1540 bc). Most of the small settlements of which the oasis is composed are clustered at the northern end of an oval depression. Contact with the Nile seems to have been frequent. The oasis is best known for several decorated tombs with the remains of painted scenes, the earliest being that of Amenhotep Huy, a governor during the 19th Dynasty (c. 1292–c. 1190 bc). Another group of tombs, of officials from the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc), includes the tomb of Bannentiu, which has a variety of painted religious scenes whose vivid colours are well preserved. There are two ruined temples, both with the usual Egyptian style of relief decoration. One is a large limestone temple, dated to the reign of Apries (...

Article

Bampur  

Beatrice de Cardi

[Pers. Bampūr]

Site of settlements in Iranian Baluchistan (see Iran, ancient, §I, 2, (ii)), of the 4th to late 3rd millennium bc and later. It was dominated by a citadel and situated near important caravan routes. Trial trenching by Sir Aurel Stein in 1932 produced an assortment of wares; further excavations by Beatrice de Cardi in 1966 resulted in the discovery of a ceramic sequence based on six phases of occupation. Stein’s collections, relating largely to Bampur periods V and VI, are in the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; material from the later excavations is divided between the Archaeological Museum, Tehran, and study collections in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; and the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

A few stylistic links with the pottery of Yahya, Tepe period IVC suggest that Bampur was settled by the late 4th millennium ...

Article

Joyce C. White

Site in north-east Thailand, c. 50 km east of Udon Thani. Excavations in 1974 and 1975 by Chester Gorman (1938–81) and Pisit Charoenwongsa (b 1938) uncovered a distinctive ceramic tradition, revealed chiefly through artefacts recovered from graves. Ceramics from even the earliest levels exhibit an elegance, sophistication and attention to decorative detail that far exceeds mere utilitarian needs. The funerary wares clearly served as an art medium for this village-based society. Although the ceramics are highly diverse, they share certain decorative treatments that characterize the tradition as a whole, in particular the free-hand application of abstract designs. Representational forms are rare. Many wares of the Early Period (3600–1000 bc) are decorated with intricate, curvilinear motifs, which are generally incised. The curvilinear or geometric painted and incised motifs of the Middle Period (1000–300 bc) are relatively simple, but vessel forms are unusually graceful and statuesque, with concave surfaces that are difficult to shape. The thin vessel walls (sometimes 1–2 mm thick) and delicate hue of the white carinated (ridged or heeled) vessels make this one of the most elegant and distinctive of all prehistoric ceramic styles, but it is the red-on-buff ware of the Late Period (...

Article

Banpo  

Mary S. Lawton

[Pan-p’o]

Site of a Neolithic village 10 km east of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China, from which is derived the name of the early phase (c. 4800–c. 4300 bc) of the Neolithic Central Yangshao culture. Archaeological excavations began in 1953; within an area of 5 hectares, 45 residences and more than 200 tombs were revealed. Subsequent carbon-14 tests dated the site to soon after 5000 bc. The excavations indicate that the settlement was divided into three separate areas, for residence, pottery production and burial. The residential section was surrounded by a manmade moat. Earlier houses were constructed partially underground, but later structures were built at ground-level. Floor-plans varied and could be circular or rectangular (e.g. see China, People’s Republic of, §II, 5, (ii)), but the main building material was mud mixed with straw. The traditional Chinese orientation of the entrance towards the south and the use of wooden roof support frames can be seen already in the architecture of Banpo (...

Article

Banshan  

Julia M. White

[Pan-shan]

Site in the Tao River valley near Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China. First excavated in 1924 by the Swedish archaeologist johan gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it gives its name to a phase (c. 2800–c. 2300 bc) of the Neolithic-period Western or Gansu Yangshao culture.

Four sites make up Banshan: Waguanzui, Banshan proper, Bianjiagou and Wangjiagou. Excavations in the region have shown that the Banshan cultural phase includes a range of sites extending north from Lanzhou to Wuwei and Yongchang in Gansu Province and as far west as the Guide Basin in Qinghai Province. Banshan was the source of a large number of painted ceramic vessels, many now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm. Since the major archaeological excavations of the 1970s and 1980s, museums and research institutes in China, particularly the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou and the Qinghai Provincial Museum in Xining, have acquired large collections of Banshan pottery. Initial finds of Banshan ceramics were exclusively funerary wares, leading experts to believe that the painted designs, especially the black, swirling ‘death pattern’, were associated with ritual burial practice. Later, vessels with an identical serrated pattern were found in habitation sites as well, and the designs are no longer interpreted only in connection with death....