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Assos  

Bonna D. Wescoat

[now Behramkale]

City on the Aegean coast of Turkey, rising from the sea to the summit of the coastal ridge opposite the island of Lesbos. Ancient testimony and archaeological evidence indicate that Assos was founded in the 7th century bc by colonists from Methymna on Lesbos, and its strategic location and protected harbour assured its importance from the 6th century bc to the 4th century ad; Aristotle lived there from 348 to 345 bc. The site was first excavated by Americans in 1881–3; work resumed in 1981 under Turkish direction. Finds, including reliefs from the temple, are now in Paris (Louvre), Boston, MA (Mus. F.A.), Istanbul (Archaeol. Mus.), Çanakkale (Archaeol. Mus.) and at the site.

The plan of Assos followed the steep contours of the area; the buildings were constructed of local volcanic andesite. The Archaic temple on the summit (see fig. (a)), probably dedicated to Athena Polias and built in the second half of the ...

Article

Assur  

[Ashur; now Qal’at ash-Sherqat]

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 bc until 614 bc, just before the fall of the Assyrian empire, it was the cult city of the god Assur. Throughout the 2nd millennium bc it was also the political capital of the land of Assur (see also Assyrian). It was rediscovered in the mid-19th century, and Layard, Sir Austen Henry, Hormuzd Rassam and George Smith worked briefly there (see also Ancient Near East, §III, 1). From 1903 to 1914 the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft carried out systematic excavations, concentrating on the northern third of the city where the temples and palaces were located. From 1978 to 1986 the Iraq Department of Antiquities and Heritage conducted excavations and preservation work, and German excavations resumed in ...

Article

Astana  

Henrik H. Sørensen

Site of an ancient cemetery for Khocho, 40 km south-east of Turfan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. The burial ground, which contains over 400 tombs, covers a large area and is divided into three sections: a north-western group with the earliest graves, a north-eastern group consisting of later, commoners’ graves, and a later northern group intended for the nobility. A wooden document found at the site indicates that it was in use before ad 273. From other unearthed written evidence it is thought that Astana ceased to be used in the late 8th century. It appears that most of those buried here were Chinese.

Many tombs contained a couple, or in some cases a man and several wives. A few single burials have also been found. In several cases the exact dating of a tomb is possible owing to memorial inscriptions on clay slates placed next to the bodies. The early tombs were made by digging a vertical entry shaft into the ground with chambers on the sides, while the later tombs have an access ramp sloping down to the burial chamber, sometimes with side rooms and antechambers. The tombs made for the nobility are usually decorated with wall paintings depicting such motifs as birds and flowers, stylized landscapes and figures; many are in the style of the early Tang period (...

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

Athens  

O. T. P. K. Dickinson, John Camp, Eleni Bastéa, Evita Arapoglou, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, Reinhard Stupperich, José Dörig, I. Leventi, Anne McClanan and Stamatia Kalantzopoulou

[Gr. Athinai]

Capital city of the Republic of Greece, occupying the greater part of the Attic plain, enclosed by the Hymettos, Pentelikon, and Parnis mountains to the east, north, and west, and open to the Saronik Gulf to the south. On this side, about 10 km from the centre of Athens, is the city’s port of Piraeus (anc. Peiraeus). Several lesser hills also form part of the city, including Lykabettos and a group of five hills to the south-west namely the Acropolis, the Areopagos, the Pnyx, and the hills of the Muses and of the Nymphs. From ancient times until the later 20th century the city was dominated by the rocky outcrop of the Acropolis, rising c. 155 m above sea level in the middle of the Attic plain. Difficult to access on all sides except the west, it was a natural site for a fortified settlement that later became the centre of the city’s cult of Athena and the location of some of the most celebrated buildings in world history....

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

Augst  

Anthony King

[anc. Augusta Raurica]

Swiss town on the Rhine near Basle, formerly a Roman colony. The well-preserved and extensively excavated Roman town is important for the study of urban planning and civic architecture. It was founded by a close colleague of Julius Caesar, L. Munatius Plancus, c. 44 bc in order to establish a bastion of Romanization in the region. The earliest surviving remains date from the Augustan period, and there was much building activity throughout the 1st and 2nd centuries ad, a period that marks the floruit of the colony. The centre of Augst was dominated by its forum–basilica–capitolium complex, laid out in the format typical of Gallic towns and one of the best examples of its type (see Rome, ancient, §III, 2). Considerable rebuilding during the 2nd century included the addition of a circular curia. The axis of the complex was the same as that of the surrounding street grid. At the temple end of the forum, however, the axis changed orientation and led to a second major group of monuments, including a theatre, which faced a second large Classical temple (am Schönbühl). The theatre originated in the early 1st century but was transformed into an amphitheatre in the later 1st century and then back into a theatre in the mid-2nd century. The Schönbühl temple (2nd century), positioned on a low hill and aligned with the theatre, would have been a major backdrop to theatrical performances. It succeeded a group of much smaller Romano-Celtic temples. The town as a whole is notable for its religious remains....

Article

T. F. C. Blagg

revised by Gordon Campbell

[now Mérida]

Roman town in south-west Spain, c. 56 km east of Badajoz, at the confluence of the Guadiana and Albarregas rivers. It was founded in 25 bc as a colony for army veterans (emeritus means ‘veteran’) and was the chief city of the Roman province of Lusitania. Its Roman remains are the most substantial in Spain.

Emerita benefited from superior public works projects. Roman bridges remain across both the rivers. The larger of the two, that over the Guadiana River (nearly 800 m long; early 2nd century ad), which is still in use, was originally constructed of 60 arches of which 57 survive, although many of them have been rebuilt since Roman times. The arches are made of concrete faced with granite and the bridge extends 792 metres across the river valley. The route across the bridge carried the traffic from the major highway out of town directly into the ...

Article

Gary Michael Tartakov

[ Auraṅgābād]

Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site—fl c. 100 bcad 600—and later city in Maharashtra, India. Together with Ajanta and Ellora, it represents the culmination of Buddhist rock-cut art along the trade routes of western India. The Buddhist site, located in the hills north-west of the city, contains a dozen excavations, an aniconic prayer-hall (Skt caityag ṛha) of the 1st century bc, two possibly Mahayana Buddhist designs that resemble examples at Ajanta closely enough to be by the same artists, a series of profusely decorated Vajrayana Buddhist ma ṇḍala shrines and a unique syncretic temple combining Brahmanical and Buddhist deities within a single sanctum. The richness and sensuousness of both the architecture and the sculpture is exceptional.

The earliest structure at the site is an aniconic caitya (Cave 4) of the 1st century bc. This prayer-hall was followed in the 5th century ad by two caves in the manner of later Ajanta: Cave 1, a ...

Article

Walter Smith

[Avantipur]

Temple site 28 km south-east of Srinagar in Kashmir, India. It was established, possibly as a secondary or ceremonial capital, by Avantivarman (reg ad 855–83), founder of the Utpala dynasty. The two major monuments attributed to him are the Avantisvamin Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and thought to be the earlier, and the Avantishvara Temple, dedicated to Shiva (see Indian subcontinent, §III, 5, (i), (b)).

Only foundations and sections of walls survive at the Avantisvamin Temple, which was constructed on the five-shrined (Skt pañcayātana) plan comprising a sanctum, fronted by a stairway and centred in a spacious courtyard with four smaller shrines at the corners; two additional shrines on the eastern side of the enclosure are perhaps later additions. A square pavement before the stairway of the central shrine indicates a no longer extant forehall aligned to a well-preserved monumental gateway on the west side of the elaborately sculptured enclosure wall. The inner side of the wall contains a series of 69 cells fronted by a colonnade. Architectural forms are in the hellenizing style seen throughout Kashmir. Several images excavated from this temple (Srinagar, Sri Pratap Singh Mus.) show Vishnu in his four-faced (...

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

Anthony King

[now Avenches , Switzerland]

Roman site, 17 km south-west of Berne, which flourished in the 2nd century ad. The town was founded c. 8 bc as the administrative centre of the civitas Helvetiorum and was elevated to the status of colonia during the Civil War of ad 69–70. It had suffered near total abandonment by the late 3rd century, although occupation may have continued in the vicinity of the existing medieval and modern town. The layout of the town—a good example of urban planning of the early Imperial period—is on a grid plan on a module of 75×110 m, with a central forum and baths, and a religious complex on the south side of the gridded area. The surrounding walls are 5.7 km in length, enclosing an area twice the size of the town. The reason for the disparity is not known: perhaps it represents an over-ambitious allowance for expansion, or perhaps the length of the walls was a symbol of civic pride. The most notable architectural feature is the temple building that includes the well-known standing column called Le Cigognier. The column forms one of the sides of the temple’s pronaos, which was probably of Classical, not Romano-Celtic, form, to judge from the excavated plan. The temple faces the town’s theatre across an expansive temenos, in a single ensemble dated to the ...

Article

Awatovi  

E. Charles Adams

Site in North America, in north-eastern Arizona. A Hopi village was established there by c. ad 1250 and destroyed in 1700. During excavations (1935–9) by the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, almost 150 wall paintings were discovered in 11 kivas (subterranean ceremonial structures; see Kiva). The wall paintings were first executed c. 1375 using the fresco secco technique and continued up to Spanish contact in the early 17th century. Except for black, inorganic pigments were used, including red, yellow, blue, green, pink, orange, brown, grey and white. Plant, animal and anthropomorphic forms are portrayed, as well as clouds, lightning, water symbols and geometric designs. The subject matter is religious, depicting parts of ceremonies, events and creatures of Hopi oral history, and altars used to perform ceremonies. Later compositions convey a feeling of movement, many showing symbolic combat between two figures. The sudden appearance of elaborate kiva wall paintings seems to coincide with the development of ...

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

Ayodhya  

B. B. Lal

[Ayodhyā]

City in Faizabad District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Located on the right bank of the River Sarayu, it was the capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom, one of whose kings, Rama, is regarded by Hindus as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Excavations in 17 different parts of the ancient mounds have revealed that the first occupation at Ayodhya commenced c. 700 bc, as is indicated by the occurrence of the earliest variety of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) and a few sherds assignable to a late stage in the production of Painted Grey Ware (PGW). The NBPW is very well fired, thin-sectioned, with a shining surface and showing a variety of colours: steel grey, coal black, indigo, silver, even gold. In the earliest levels the houses were of wattle and daub, but later they began to be constructed of kiln-fired bricks. Terracotta ringwells were used for disposing of sullage water. Concomitantly, systems of coinage (punch-marked and uninscribed cast coins) and weights (cylindrical pieces of jasper, chert etc) also came into being, laying the foundation of urbanization in the Ganga Valley around the middle of the 1st millennium ...

Article

Ayrtam  

B. Ya. Stavisky

[Aïrtam]

Site in Uzbekistan, on the right bank of the Amu River, 18 km east of Termez. In 1932 the accidental discovery of a stone relief with the busts of three musicians against a background of acanthus leaves (see Central Asia, §I, 3, (ii), (a)) led the following year to the excavation by M. Ye. Masson of a further seven reliefs of the same type. In the 1960s–70s excavations by G. A. Pugachenkova and B. A. Turgunov revealed a settlement that dated from shortly before the time of Christ and flourished during the Kushana period (1st–4th century ad), when it formed an oasis extending 2.5–3.0 km along the river bank without planned layout or defensive wall. Several archaeological sites have been uncovered in the area of the settlement. The largest mound, which occupied the western part of the site, was enclosed by a wall and was probably a fortified citadel or acropolis. Excavations in ...

Article

Baalbek  

Margaret Lyttleton

[Heliopolis]

Greco-Roman site in Lebanon, c. 1150 m above the fertile Bekaa Valley 64 km to the north-east of Beirut. Its remains chiefly comprise the vast Sanctuary of Jupiter Heliopolitanus (begun c. 1st century bc), the exceptionally well preserved ‘Temple of Bacchus’ (2nd century ad; see fig.) and an elegant circular temple perhaps dedicated to Venus (3rd century ad; 1b). The ancient city lay on the caravan route from Damascus and Palmyra to the Phoenician coastal cities and was occupied from prehistoric times, although it did not become important until the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc). Attempts to link Baalbek with Solomon’s Balaath, or with any other biblical site, have not met with general acceptance. The worship at Baalbek of the Semitic storm god Baal, whom the Greeks assimilated to Zeus and the Romans to Jupiter, was of great antiquity: the rectangular court of the Temple of Jupiter was built over an ancient tell containing the remains of at least three sanctuaries going back to the ...