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Li Liu


Chinese city in Shaanxi Province, where several important sites from the Neolithic to Eastern Zhou periods (c. 6500–256 bc) have been discovered. A Neolithic village site was excavated in 1958–60 and 1977–8 at Beishouling. The cultural deposits found belong to the Laoguantai culture and the Yangshao culture, dated by radiocarbon analysis to c. 5000–c. 2500 bc. The ceramics are reddish in colour, and some vessels are painted. Major pottery types include the pointed-bottom vase, flat-bottom jar, round-bottom bowl and suantou hu (garlic-head) vessel (for illustration of shapes see China, fig.). The most elaborate ones are a boat-shaped vessel with a net design and a garlic-shaped vessel with a design of a bird pecking at a fish.

At Rujiazhuang, Zhuyuangou and Zhifangtou, three cemeteries of the Western Zhou period (c. 1050–771 bc) were excavated in 1974–81. They belonged to the state of Yu, a Western Zhou feudal state not recorded in ancient texts. The excavations uncovered 27 tombs, two sacrificial pits containing chariots and horses, and four pits containing only horses. More than 2600 grave goods, including bronze, jade, stone, bone, shell and ceramic objects, were unearthed. The findings provide evidence of a culture combining a unique local style with influences from the Western Zhou, the Siwa culture in Gansu Province and the Shu culture in Sichuan Province. Many stone and jade ornaments and bronze vessels are decorated with animal motifs, and bronze figurines depict details of dress and hairstyles suggesting that the Yu people were culturally closely related to the Di and Qiang peoples in north-western and south-western areas....


P. R. Giot

Site of Neolithic multiple-chambered tomb in Brittany, France, 13 km north of Morlaix (see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2, (v), (b)). Discovered in 1851 and excavated and restored between 1955 and 1968, this monument is typical of the complex cairns of the region. It is trapezoidal in form, measuring 72 m long and up to 27 m wide and 8 m high, and it is constructed of dry-stone masonry. There were two principal phases of construction. The primary cairn, on the east, contains five passage graves arranged side by side and had two concentric revetment walls. Charcoal from Chamber G, the passage of which was well blocked, has yielded a radiocarbon date in the later 5th millennium bc after calibration, equivalent to the oldest known dates for passage graves of the Atlantic seaboard. Chamber H has an antechamber and five orthostats with pecked decoration. The capstone of the easternmost tomb has a carved figure in an abnormal position indicating that it is a reused stone from an older monument. Few grave goods have been recovered from this primary cairn. The secondary cairn extended the first towards the west and down a slope, so the number of supporting revetment walls had to be increased from four to six in places. It contains six more passage graves, most of which have yielded early Neolithic radiocarbon dates and grave goods, although two also had some later material. The internal passages are of dry-stone masonry supporting capstones; there are some orthostats, but these do not have a structural function. Most of the chambers are of dry-stone corbelling, although two have capstones and supports. Local dolerite was used for the smaller blocks and stones in the cairns, while granite from an island 2 km away was chosen for the megalithic slabs and for the outer blocks of the secondary cairn. The Barnenez monument demonstrates a keen sense of grandiose architectural design among its builders, who maintained continuity over the several generations it took to complete. Naturally, there were some slight changes during the successive accretions; the western extremity of the secondary cairn, in particular, is somewhat prow-shaped and ostentatious, but it is clear that the limiting structures were built to be seen as stepped tiers. The obstruction of certain passages was also important, and a small part of the forecourt between two passage entrances had accumulated offerings of pottery. The main holdings of material from the site are housed in the Musée Préhistorique Finistérien, Penmarch....


A. F. Harding

Site of Bronze Age settlement with fortified tower ( Nuraghe) in central-southern Sardinia, Italy. The tower of Su Nuraxi near Barumini is one of the most spectacular and fully developed of all the Sardinian nuraghi. Lying at a height of 238 m above sea-level on a terrace overlooking a fertile plain, it controlled an important route from the Campidano plain near Cagliari to the interior of the island. The site occupies about 1350 sq. m, of which the nuraghe takes up about one third. Excavations were carried out by Giovanni Lilliu in 1940 and between 1949 and 1954.

The history of the fortified elements of the site is complex. An initial tower of simple form, originally 18.6 m high and 10 m in diameter, lies eccentrically to the succeeding defensive conglomeration. The external walls, of uniform gradient, are formed of massive polyhedral basalt blocks in the lower courses and squared blocks in the upper. The tower contains three vaulted rooms, one above the other, the lowest having an entrance corridor with niches and a staircase opening. A radiocarbon date of 3410±200 ...


Izumi Shimada

Region in La Leche Valley on the north coast of Peru, which contains numerous archaeological sites. The central part of the valley, over 55 sq. km in area, has been designated the Poma National Archaeological and Ecological Reserve because of the concentration of some 30 major Pre-Columbian cemeteries and mounds nested within dense semi-tropical thorny native forest. The most notable period of local cultural development was the Middle Sicán (see Sicán), c. ad 900–1100, when the Sicán funerary–religious precinct (see fig.), the dominant feature of Batán Grande, was built. Delineated by some dozen monumental adobe pyramids, it covers an area extending c. 1.6 km east–west and 1 km north–south.

The long-term funerary and religious importance of the Poma Reserve is underlined by the limited evidence for widespread or intensive agricultural activity there, despite its abundant fertile alluvium. As the beginning and end of various major canals, Batán Grande controlled the vital local water supplies and thus held political control over the adjacent valleys. Although a Late Sicán shift of settlement away from Batán Grande removed much of this political significance, the site clearly retained its eminence as a key burial and metallurgical centre up to the Spanish conquest. The Spanish name for the area in fact derives from the hundreds of large ...



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....



R. Krauss


(fl c. 1340 bc). Egyptian sculptor. Bek’s career as Overseer of Works at the Red Mountain and Overseer of Sculptors coincided with the reign of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). Numerous fragments of statuary excavated at el-Amarna (the site of Akhenaten’s capital city) can be attributed to Bek’s workshop, making him—like his contemporary Thutmose—one of the few ancient Egyptian artists with whom particular pieces can be associated.

A rock relief at Aswan depicts Akhenaten as a living person, if larger than life, together with the sculptor and his father Men (also an Overseer of Sculptors), in the act of adoring a colossal statue of Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). While Men too adores the statue, Bek greets King Akhenaten. The associated text assigns Bek responsibility for ‘very great monuments’ in the ‘Great Sun Temple’ at el-Amarna. It also describes him as an ‘apprentice whom his majesty himself taught’, a phrase that is often taken to imply the direct, personal involvement of Akhenaten in the formulation of the so-called ...


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...


Seton Lloyd

Ancient settlement around the upper reaches of the Büyük Monderes (Meander River), near Çivril in Turkey, that flourished during the Bronze Age (c. 3500–1200 bc) and was briefly reoccupied in the Early Christian period. The imposing ruin mound, with twin summits, was excavated (1954–9) by the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara under Seton Lloyd.

These excavations revealed 40 successive levels of occupation with modest building remains. At the earliest levels, the pottery can be dated to a late phase of the Chalcolithic period (c. 3500 bc), though metal objects (including silver) already appear in small quantities. Comparable finds from other sites in the same area combine with the Beycesultan material to produce a schematic chronological sequence for the whole of south-western Anatolia. The architectural and artistic material shows the evolution of a culture that was possibly the direct forebear of the Iron Age civilization in western Anatolia. In the 2nd millennium ...


J. D. Hawkins


Village in central Anatolia, Turkey, adjoining the site of ancient Hattusa, capital of the Hittite kingdom, c. 1650–c. 1200 bc. Most of the remains belong to the Hittite empire period, c. 1400–c. 1200 bc (see fig.). Excavations have recovered extensive ruins of walls and gates, a citadel and temples, and thousands of clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform that formed the royal library and archives of the Hittites. With interruptions for World Wars I and II, formal excavations have been conducted under H. Winckler, Kurt Bittel and P. Neve since 1906; the site continues to be highly productive. Finds are in the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, and the Archaeological Museum, Boğazköy.

Traces of settlement stretching back to the Chalcolithic have been identified, but no substantial remains have been found earlier than the Assyrian Colony period (...


Michael Roaf

[Barsippa, Barsip; now Birs Nimrud]

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 ziggurat, part of the Temple of Nabu. In the 19th century the site was thought to be part of the ruins of Babylon and was investigated by Claudius James Rich, Henry Rawlinson and Hormuzd Rassam. In the 20th century it was investigated by Robert Koldewey and later by a team from Innsbruck University. The main collection of finds is in the British Museum, London. The ziggurat was built in the Old Babylonian period (first half of the 2nd millennium bc) and rebuilt in the Neo-Babylonian period (625–539 bc). Its upper portion is vitrified brick, probably burnt as a result of fires that were lit in trenches dug into the top of the ziggurat in the early Islamic period (...


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....


Charles C. Van Siclen III

[Egyp. Per-Bastet; now Tell Basta, nr Zaqāzīq, Egypt]. Site in the eastern Nile Delta 77 km north-east of Cairo. It flourished c. 2575 bcc. ad 300. The ancient city of Basta (Gr. Bubastis) was the home of the feline goddess Bastet (Egyp.: ‘She of Basta’), often associated in the later periods of Egyptian history with the cat. Both the city and the cult of Bastet date back at least to the beginning of the Old Kingdom (c. 2575 bc). Bubastis was a significant political, economic and religious centre, and during the 22nd Dynasty (c. 950–c. 730 bc) it was home to a family of pharaohs named Osorkon and Shoshenq, who ruled the whole of Egypt. The importance of the city declined with shifting trade routes, changing political structures and above all the appearance of Christianity and later Islam, when the site was abandoned. The great temple to Bastet and her joyous festival are both described by Herodotus (...



Lorraine Copeland


Site of an ancient Near Eastern Neolithic village, occupied mainly between 6400 and 5900 bc, located on a terrace overlooking the River Euphrates near Dayr al-Zawr in north-eastern Syria. At this site (2.7 ha in area) the transition from Aceramic to Ceramic Neolithic was exhibited in an area midway between the Levant and northern Iraq cultural zones. There were soundings in 1965 by H. de Contenson and J. W. van Liere, and the site was jointly excavated in 1976–8 by the Universities of Amsterdam and Groningen. Finds are in the National Museum in Damascus and in the Dayr al-Zawr Museum.

The inhabitants of Buqras, of whom there were probably between 600 and 1000, were fully agricultural, with domesticated animals and plants. Even though the village was located beyond the limits of rain-fed agriculture, their economic resources enabled them to ornament house and person and to experiment with ceramic technology. Excavations revealed that the later building phases comprised orderly, rectangular, mud-brick detached dwellings set in parallel rows along streets or in blocks around courtyards. Most were divided into nine small oblong or square rooms, up to ...


A. F. Harding

Early Bronze Age round burial mound on Normanton Down, near Stonehenge, Wilts (Wilsford G.5 in L. V. Grinsell’s numbering). The Bush Barrow grave finds represent the finest flowering of Early Bronze Age craftsmanship in Britain. When excavated by William Cunnington in 1808, it contained ‘the skeleton of a tall and stout man’ and a variety of grave goods, including a bronze flanged axe, three bronze daggers, a stone macehead with bronze fitting, cylindrical bone mounts with toothed edges, a gold belt-hook cover, two lozenge-shaped plates of gold foil and a number of ‘brass rivets intermixed with wood’ (London, BM; on loan from Devizes Mus.). The grave and its objects are taken as typical of the Wessex Culture, identified from a group of burial finds centred on central-southern England and dating to the mid-2nd millennium bc. The site’s position within sight of Stonehenge lends weight to the suggestion that it was a major centre for social, artistic and religious activity during this period....



Alasdair Whittle

Prehistoric settlement and cultural typesite of the 6th–5th millennia bc, on the fringes of the Vinča culture, in the upper Neretva Valley, near Sarajevo in Bosnia. The Late Neolithic site has yielded interesting handmade decorated pottery and plain fired clay figurines with unusually realistically modelled heads. It was partially excavated in 1893–6 by Viclav Radimský and his colleagues, and material recovered is in the National Museum, Sarajevo. Pottery from Butmir and other more recently excavated sites such as Obre, near Zenica, comprises a range of globular and pear-shaped vessels with spiral motifs incised and painted in red and white after firing. There are also small fired clay anthropomorphic figurines in the general Balkan tradition, but some are distinctive for having realistically modelled heads. Foreheads, eyes, lips and chins are delineated as well as noses and ears. Most archaeologists, however, would regard these primarily as cult or ritual objects rather than artistic representations; some suggest that they represent figures in a pantheon of deities....



Muntaha Saghie

[anc. Gebal, Gabla; now Gebeil, Jbeil]

Ancient city built on a low cliff (h. 24 m) on the Mediterranean coast c. 40 km north of Beirut, Lebanon. Founded in the 6th millennium bc as a fishing village, it later developed into a cosmopolitan centre where trade and various industries flourished. During the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc it was the foremost harbour town in the eastern Mediterranean. The Phoenician alphabet was developed there (see Ancient Near East §I 3..). The word ‘Bible’ is derived from the Greeks’ name for the city whence they obtained the parchment (Gr. biblos) from which they made books (biblia). The site was excavated from 1921 onwards by Pierre Montet (until 1924) and Maurice Dunand. Most of the finds were deposited in the Musée National in Beirut.

The flimsy houses of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods (6th–4th millennia bc) consisted of one big room, rounded or oval for the earlier period, rectangular or apsidal for the later. In the Early Bronze Age (...


David M. Jones and Jaime Litvak King

Site in the Toluca Valley, Mexico. It was the capital and principal ceremonial centre of the Matlazinca people. The name derives from calli (Náhuatl: house) and ixtlahuaca (field or plain), thus ‘Place of houses on the plain’. Calixtlahuaca is one of the few Matlazinca sites known with substantial remains, and its architectural ruins, scattered on the hillside between the modern villages of Calixtlahuaca and Tecaxic, combine elements from central and northern Mesoamerica. Most of the site lies beneath the villages or the fields between the villages. Surface survey and excavations were carried out between 1930 and 1938 by José García Payón.

Calixtlahuaca was occupied between c. 1700 bc and ad 1510, when it was destroyed by Aztec forces. After the Spanish Conquest, Matlazinca survivors returned and established the two villages. Occupation has been divided by archaeologists into five periods: from c. 1700 bcc. 200 bc, Pre-Classic remains represented by figurines and traces of terrace walls; from ...


David French

[now Alaçatı]

Site dating from the 7th millennium bc, about 13 km east-north-east of Karaman, Turkey. Can Hasan lies on the border of the Konya basin at the northern foot of the Taurus Mountains. One of the two main mountain crossings providing access between the Mediterranean coast and the Anatolian plateau descends to the Konya plain at Karaman. There are three mounds at Can Hasan: the first and largest, Can Hasan I, has been dated by radiocarbon analysis to the 6th–4th millennium bc; Can Hasan II, from the evidence of coins and potsherds, belongs to the Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine periods; Can Hasan III has been dated by radiocarbon analysis to the 7th millennium bc. Can Hasan I was excavated by David French in 1961–7 and Can Hasan III in 1969–70. Finds are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara and in the Archaeological Museum, Karanan.

Can Hasan I (...