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Robert S. Bianchi

[Arab. Bahbayt al-Hagar; anc. Egyp. Pr-ḥbyt; Lat. Iseum]

Site in northern Egypt, c. 100 km north of Cairo, an important cult centre for the worship of the goddess Isis, which flourished during the 4th century bc. The modern name is a combination of the ancient Egyptian name and the Arabic epithet ‘al-hagar’ (‘the stone’), referring to the jumbled mass of granite blocks from the collapsed Temple of Isis that now litters the site. The site is mentioned in inscriptions of the New Kingdom, but it rose to prominence during the 30th Dynasty (380–343 bc) when Nectanebo II (reg 360–343 bc) sponsored the construction of the Temple of Isis. The geographic proximity of Behbeit el-Hagar to Sebennytos, the capital during the 30th Dynasty, less than 10 km away, implies that Isis was the Dynasty’s titular deity. Behbeit el-Hagar (Iseum) eventually became the capital of an independent nome (administrative province) during the Ptolemaic period (after ...



Peter Dorrell

Site of an early Neolithic settlement on the east side of the Wadi al-Arabah, not far from Petra in the southern part of the Dead Sea rift valley, Jordan. The site is on a shelf of the escarpment, some 400 m below the Arabian desert plateau. Although the site had been occupied in the Natufian period (c. 10,000 bc), it is chiefly important for the light it throws on the development of sedentary village life and agriculture from the last quarter of the 7th millennium bc to the middle of the 6th. Its unbroken sequence from round to rectangular buildings is also of great interest in the development of domestic architecture during this period. Beidha was excavated by Diana Kirkbride during the 1960s and in 1982 to 1983. Finds are in the Jordanian Archaeological Museum in Amman.

Throughout the Neolithic period, building was in stone, and nearly all rooms were semi-subterranean, cut down by at least 0.5 m or more. In the earliest phases rooms were roughly circular, 3 to 4 m in diameter, and clustered in groups with common walls built by infilling between series of wooden uprights. The rooms had central post-holes, and there is evidence of rafters and of the interiors having been plastered overall. At this time a retaining wall was built round the village. In the following phase the circular rooms were often free-standing and built without the uprights. Subsequently rooms became semi-rectangular, with walls gently curved in plan, and finally completely rectangular. During these later phases walls were carefully laid out and well built, and floors and walls were smoothly plastered, with the plaster curved up between the two; many had red-painted dados. A new type of building appeared at this time, consisting of corridors 6 to 7 m long with shorter passages or chambers opening on either side. The thick walls may have supported upper storeys. As well as domestic structures there are workshops, in which a range of artefacts were manufactured, and what appear to be ceremonial buildings....



William E. Mierse

Site of a monumental mausoleum 11 km north-east of Ephesos on the west coast of Turkey. The remaining structure, a core of natural rock shaped into a cube (15.00×24.00×11.37 m) and faced with cut stone blocks, originally formed a podium capped by a Doric frieze. On the podium stood a marble chamber surrounded by a Corinthian colonnade with eight columns on each side. The colonnade supported sculpted lion-griffins in confronted pairs on either side of marble urns, and the roof took the form of a pyramid, probably surmounted by a chariot group (for a suggested reconstruction of mausoleum. Relief sculptures (Izmir, Archaeol. Mus.) depicting Funerary Games and a Battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs (Izmir, Archaeol. Mus.) decorated the ceiling coffers of the colonnade. In the main funerary chamber, which was cut into the rock core, stood a large stone sarcophagus with a reclining crowned figure on its lid (Selçuk, Ephesos Archaeol. Mus.) and a statue of a servant placed near by (untraced). The tomb’s occupant has been identified as Memnon, a general in the service of the Persian king Artaxerxes Ochos (...


Donald B. Spanel

[Arab. Banì Ḥasan al-Shurrūq]

Site of a vast necropolis in Egypt, on a steep hillside on the east bank of the Nile, about 250 km south of Cairo. The tombs at Beni Hasan contain the most extensive and important group of wall-paintings in Middle Egypt, dating to a period from the late Old Kingdom to the Middle Kingdom. The site also includes Speos Artemidos, the Temple of Pakhet built by Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III (for chronological chart of Egyptian kings see Egypt, ancient, fig.).

The cemetery contains more than 900 tombs divided into an upper and lower range. In the lower section of the hill there are 888 modest, L-shaped pit- or shaft-tombs; many were found intact and have produced a wealth of information about ancient Egyptian burial customs. Most of these lower tombs were built between the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The two oldest tombs (Nos 481–2) belong to the late Old Kingdom or the years immediately following....


Donald B. Spanel

[Arab. Dayr al-Barshā]

Site of a necropolis in the 15th nome of ancient Egypt, on both flanks of a wadi on the east bank of the Nile, about 300 km south of Cairo. The highest civil and religious leaders of the 15th (‘Hare’) nome were buried at Deir el-Bersha, and their tombs, dating from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc), are best known for the wall paintings and decorated coffins.

In the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), tombs were built not far south of Deir el-Bersha, at el-Sheikh Said. Both Deir el-Bersha and el-Sheikh Said have been much ruined by earthquakes, quarrying and theft. As a result, the tomb paintings at Bersha are less famous than the nearly contemporary ones at Beni Hasan. The most important tombs are on the northern flank of the mouth of the wadi. The northern hill at Bersha, like that at Beni Hasan, has an upper terrace of large, rectangular chambers cut in the face of the cliffs and a lower section of smaller chambered tombs and L-shaped pit- or shaft-tombs sunk into the slope. The most famous ...


Jonathan N. Tubb

[Arab. Beisān; anc. Gr. Scythopolis; now Tell el-Husn]

Site in Israel between the Jezreel and Jordan valleys, on the south side of the Harod River. Extensive excavations, undertaken 1921–3 by a University of Pennsylvania expedition directed by C. S. Fisher, A. Rowe and G. M. Fitzgerald, disclosed a long history of almost unbroken occupation from the Chalcolithic period (c. 5000–c. 3500 bc) virtually to the present day. Excavations to the south-west of the mound have been undertaken since 1950 by N. Tzori on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities.

The earliest phases of occupation (strata XVIII and XVII) are best related to the Yarmukian or Jerico Pottery Neolithic B cultures of the mid-4th millennium bc. An apsidal house (stratum XVI; last quarter of the 4th millennium bc) contained a number of copper implements; grey burnished Esdraelon ware was stratified within the walls. The following Early Bronze Age (c. 3500–c. 2000 bc...


M. Yaldiz


Site in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, 56 km north-east of Turfan. It is the site of the most outstanding complex of Buddhist cave temples in Khocho and is located in the steep side of an extensive terrace above the Murtuk River. At one time access to the caves was via free-standing timber buildings or terraces constructed in front of them, but by the time the caves were discovered by Albert von Le Coq at the beginning of the 20th century these were largely in ruins. In type the caves conform to those in the Kucha region (see Kizil; see also Central Asia, §II, 2).

The cave temples contained sculptures made of unfired clay, but it was mainly the wall paintings (removed by von Le Coq for safekeeping, few survive; see below) that in their unsurpassable diversity provided evidence of a flourishing Buddhist community. The most impressive were the paintings depicting consecration of a ...


Michael D. Rabe

[Telugu: ‘Mountain of the fearsome god’]

Site of a Hindu cave temple complex 140 km north-west of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, India. Isolated between the precipitous red cliffs of a box canyon, the site comprises eight small and remarkably similar caves excavated from a single rock face above a stream. Datable by style and epigraphy to the 7th century ad, all eight caves house Shiva liṅgas within sanctuaries measuring c. 2×2×2 m. Life-size door guardians carved into the façade of each shrine lean upon heavy clubs; their abundant hair is set with single blades or triple forks, respectively identifying them as personifications of Shiva’s axe and trident. All but one of the cave façades are also adorned with smaller-scale icons of Brahma and Vishnu, which, together with the Shiva liṅgas, complete the Hindu trinity. Each cave is preceded by an open court containing a reclining image of Shiva’s vehicle, the bull Nandi, set facing the sanctum; relief panels on either side are carved with seated images of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha and the child-devotee Chandikesha. The external façades of caves 5–8 include porches with richly detailed parapets supported by twin pillars ...



A. P. Jamkhedkar


Site of Buddhist rock-cut temples and other buildings in Pune District, Maharashtra, India. Bhaja is one of a series of cave-temple sites that developed in western India during the last two centuries bc in proximity to important trade routes. The caves were probably created by followers of Hinayana Buddhism, though paintings of Buddhas and bodhisattvas indicate that Bhaja came under the sway of Mahayana doctrine. The number of known excavations at Bhaja has been increased by archaeological discoveries to some 26. These consist of monasteries for Buddhist monks (Skt vihāra), prayer-halls (caitya gṛha), water-cisterns and an assemblage of memorial stupas. The largest monument is the main prayer-hall, an apsidal excavation 17.08 m long and 8.13 m broad. The roof is barrel-shaped and the hall has 27 octagonal pillars (3.45 m high), which are slightly tapered and have an inward rake. On either side of the pillars are aisles that meet behind a stone stupa, thus forming a circumambulatory. The roof-ribs are wooden. An inscription (...



Kurt Behrendt


Site of a Buddhist stupa of the 2nd century bc in Satna District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The fragmentary remains of the Bharhut Stupa (see Stupa, §1) were discovered near the village of Bhaironpur by Alexander Cunningham in 1873. The stupa itself was largely destroyed, having been pillaged by local villagers for building material. Only the eastern gateway (Skt toraṇa) and a portion of the railing (vedikā) with crossbars (sūci) and coping stones (uṣṇiṣa) were recovered. These are now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Individual uprights and coping fragments are in the Allahabad Museum, while smaller pieces have found their way to museums around the world.

The stupa (diam. 20 m) was made of large flat bricks (305 × 305 × 59 mm) and was originally surrounded by a railing (diam. 25 m) with four gates. Reliefs on the surviving gate suggest the stupa had a cylindrical base with a hemispherical dome ornamented with floral designs. The summit was crowned by parasols. There is further evidence that a smaller railing either encircled the main railing or edged a raised circumambulatory platform, as at ...


Michael D. Willis


Site of a 5th-century ad brick temple in Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple at Bhitargaon is the best-preserved example of 5th-century brick architecture in northern India and is especially noted for its in situ terracotta plaques and pyramidal superstructure. The building (Skt śikhara; 21×14.6×10.9 m), orientated towards the east, has a square cella entered through a ruined rectangular vestibule. Externally the cella has prominent projections (bhadra) on each side. A podium (vedībandha), dominated by a tall moulding with a curved top (kumbha), runs around the base of the structure. Above the podium, the wall is divided into sections by attached pilasters with pot-like bases, capitals and elaborate abaci. Some of the niches between the pilasters retain their original terracotta plaques with images of Shiva and Vishnu in various forms. The entablature (varaṇḍikā) consists of two heavy cornices with an intervening recess containing terracottas of animals and mythic creatures. The rectilinear superstructure is damaged, but the surviving portions show that it was ornamented with tiers of arched niches in varying sizes; some of the niches contain terracotta busts and full figures of deities. There were other brick temples in the vicinity, but these are now completely ruined....



Kirit Mankodi


Site in Madhya Pradesh, India, some 30 km south-east of Bhopal. The town flourished in the 11th century under the Paramara dynasty. A natural depression, skirted by low hills, served as the basin for the reservoir created by King Bhoja (reg 1000–55), the founder of Bhojpur. The gaps between the hills were diked, various streams and rivers diverted, and the River Betwa dammed at Bhojpur. The ruins of three massive dams show that each was 20–30 m high, about 100 m thick at the base, filled with earth and faced on the inner and outer sides with stone slabs. The reservoir was destroyed by Sultan Hoshang Shah in the 15th century. On the banks of the reservoir, Bhoja began a large Shiva temple (the linga in the sanctum is nearly 8 m high), but the building was left unfinished. A long, sloping ramp, sculptors’ abandoned workshops, draughtsmen’s drawings on stone and some ...



Michael D. Willis


Site of a 5th-century temple in Satna District, Madhya Pradesh, India, near the contemporary sites of Nachna and Khoh. One of the relatively few surviving Gupta-period temples, it was excavated in 1921 by R. D. Banerji. After the initial excavation, many of the sculptures from Bhumara were removed to the Allahabad Museum. Fragments are also in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, and one candraśālā (dormer) is in a private collection in the USA; a second dormer, probably from Bhumara but not documented to be so, is in the British Museum (London, BM, 1880.1065).

Partly ruined, the temple consists of a square, windowless sanctum (garbhagṛha), approximately 4.5 m on each side, once fronted by a forehall (maṇḍapa), which has completely disappeared. Built on a rectangular platform (jagatī), the temple is approached from the eastern side by a stairway flanked by the remains of two small shrines. The platform has a moulded base and a low parapet around the outer edge, similar to the platform at ...


G. Herrmann

[Bîchâpour; Pers. Bĭshăpŭr]

Site of Sasanian city 21 km east of Kazerun in south-west Iran. It was founded by the Sasanian king Shapur I (reg ad 241–72) and flourished in the early and middle Sasanian periods (see Sasanian). A relatively small area of the large, approximately rectangular city was cleared by Ghirshman in the 1930s, together with some of the defensive walls.

The purpose of the excavated buildings is disputed. They were once identified as a temple and associated palaces, but the whole area may have had a religious function. One structure, built of fine, ashlar masonry, is semi-subterranean and consists of a central square cella or court surrounded by an ambulatory. A series of subterranean stone channels linked the structure to the river, enabling the cella to be flooded when required. The building was once considered to be a fire temple (see Zoroastrianism, §1), but was more probably dedicated to the goddess Anahita. Another building consists of an enormous hall with four iwans opening on to it; its roofing and that of the stone temple are conjectural. The walls were decorated with simple painted stucco, and the pavements of some floors were covered with mosaics, almost certainly the work of Roman mosaicists. The geometric motifs and ornamental details in these mosaics are Greco-Roman, but there are also distinctively Iranian scenes with subjects such as dancers and harpists. Shapur’s greatest military successes were achieved against the Romans, whom he defeated three times, finally capturing the unfortunate Emperor Valerian alive. Many prisoners were settled in Iran, and their influence is much in evidence at Bishapur, in its orthogonal plan, in the ashlar masonry used for the temple and for the commemorative monument erected at the intersection of the city’s two main axes, and in the mosaics....



Vesta Sarḳhosh Curtis

[Pers. Bīsutūn; anc. Bagastāna: ‘Site of the gods’; Behistan, Behistun]

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 Darius I (reg 521–486 bc;, which commemorates his victory over Gaumata, the false Smerdis, and nine rebel kings. Work on the relief took from 520 to 519 bc. The relief is accompanied by a trilingual inscription in Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian. This describes Darius’s royal descent and lineage, his campaigns and his victories over his opponents.

The relief, measuring 3.0×5.5m, shows Darius followed by a spear-bearer and a bow-bearer. He is depicted in profile wearing a crown and a long robe. In triumphant gesture he puts one foot on the defeated Gaumata, who is lying on the ground, pleading to the king of kings. Darius’s right hand is raised towards the figure in a winged disc set above. Behind Gaumata is the row of captured kings roped together at the neck, with their hands tied behind their backs. They include the Persian Martya, the Sagartian Chissantakhma, the Persian Vahyazdata, the Armenian Arakha and the Median Fravartish. The final figure, that of the Scythian Skunkha, was added to the relief at a late stage. The theme, with the king stepping with one foot on the body of an outstretched captive, is similar to that on a relief of King ...


Sara Champion

Site in Poland, near Gniezno, c. 230 km west of Warsaw. It was originally on an island, but is now part of a peninsula on a lake. An Iron Age fortified settlement at Biskupin flourished from the 8th century bc to the 6th. Excavation of the site began in 1933 under the direction of J. Kostrzewski and continued until the outbreak of World War II, when much of the documentation and material from the site was destroyed, the excavation team dispersed and the site filled in. After the war excavations recommenced, combining new work with attempts to reconstruct the lost records. Finds of material from the Late Upper Palaeolithic (c. 20,000–c. 10,000 bp) and Mesolithic (c. 12,000 bpc. 6500 bc) periods, together with evidence of settlement during the Neolithic (c. 6500–c. 2300 bc) period, Bronze Age (c. 2300–c. 750...


Mary Ellen Miller

Site of a Maya ceremonial center in the tropical rainforest of the Chiapas, Mexico, that flourished around the end of the 8th century ce. Bonampak is best known for its colorful and complex wall paintings, which are the most complete indigenous examples in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The paintings, brought to modern attention by Giles Healey in 1946, are preserved in situ on the walls of a fragile three-room building known as Structure 1. A full-scale replica building holds color copies of the paintings in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City. The rest of the site is still largely unexcavated, but several fine sculptures have also been found.

The paintings in Structure 1 were commissioned in 791 ce to celebrate various events in the reign of the last known Bonampak king, Yajaw Chaan Muwan (reg. 775–? ce), and after his death, when young lords competed to be successor. In ...


V. Ya. Petrukhin

Site of petroglyphs dating to the end of the first millennium bc, in the Boyar Mountains near the village of Abakan-Perevoz in the Middle Yenisey Basin in Siberian Russia. Discovered by Alexander V. Adrianov in 1904, the petroglyphs were engraved using pecking technique; most of the images are in silhouette but some are in low relief. Anthropomorphic figures are rendered frontally while animals are shown in profile. At Bol’shaya (Greater) Boyar Pisanitsy there is a frieze with a panorama of a village with log cabins and yurts, herds of animals, with running sheep portrayed in the Scythian–Siberian Animal Style, small schematic human figures and outline images of cauldrons of Scythian type. The images at Malaya (Lesser) Boyar Pisanitsy are executed in similar style, but the composition is more schematic. There are, however, precise depictions of the construction of timber houses with gable roofs.

M. A. Devlet: Bol’shaya boyarskaya pisanitsa/Rock Engravings in the Middle Yenisei Basin...


D. M. Matthews

Site in eastern Syria near the River Jaghjagh, which runs through the fertile Khabur Plain. It flourished c. 3500–1280 bc. Major ancient trade routes crossed near Tell Brak, and throughout its history it was open to foreign influences. It was excavated by Max Mallowan in 1937–8 and by David and Joan Oates from 1976. Most of the objects are now in the National Museum, Aleppo, the Dayr al-Zawr Museum, the British Museum, London, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The tell is one of the largest mounds in northern Mesopotamia. Fine polychrome Halaf pottery shows that it was an important site already in the 6th millennium bc, and a few sherds indicate that it was founded even earlier. The excavations have not, however, penetrated deeper than the end of the Ubaid period, c. 4000 bc. The main discoveries date to the Uruk, Early Dynastic, Akkadian and Mitannian periods (see Mesopotamia §I 2....



R. A. Tomlinson

revised by Gordon Campbell

Site of an ancient sanctuary of Artemis (worshipped here as Artemis-Iphigenia, protector of pregnant women) on the east coast of Attica, 6 km north-east of Markopoulon, established by the 8th century bc. A special feature of the cult at Brauron was that the priestesses, known as Artemis’ Bears (arktoi), were girls aged between five and ten. They resided within the sanctuary and were instrumental in a great festival, the Brauroneia, celebrated there every five years. A similar cult was subsequently introduced on the Athenian Acropolis, probably owing to the growing importance of aristocratic families with estates near Brauron. The site was excavated in 1946–52 and 1956–63 by J. Papadimitriou.

The Temple of Artemis (6th century bc) is a small, Doric, non-peripteral building of which only the foundations remain. Beyond it was a copious spring, liable to flooding. A small, nondescript building some 10 m south-east of the temple was perhaps the residence of the Bears. The most important architectural remains are those of a Doric stoa (end of ...