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Dorothy C. Wang


Site of Buddhist cave sanctuaries located 25 km south-east of the county town of Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. In the wider definition Dunhuang also includes the Yulin caves at Anxi and the Xi qianfo dong (Western Cave of the Thousand Buddhas). From the 4th century to the 14th, Buddhist cave sanctuaries were continuously carved out in four or five tiers on the cliff face of an alluvial hill that faces east over the Dang River. At its height as a Buddhist complex in the 8th century ad, the complex is believed to have comprised more than 1000 caves. A total of 492 caves with wall paintings and sculptures survive, the earliest of which date to the early 5th century ad. A hoard of old and rare manuscripts was also found at Dunhuang, including the world’s oldest complete printed book (see China, People’s Republic of, §XIV, 3).

Dunhuang was first established as a garrison town in the ...


Malcolm A. R. Colledge, Joseph Gutmann and Andrew R. Seager

[now Qal‛at as Sāliḩīyah.]

Site of a Hellenistic and Roman walled city in eastern Syria, on a plateau between two gorges on the west bank of the middle Euphrates. The name combines elements that are Semitic (Dura) and Macedonian Greek (Europos). Dura Europos was founded by the Seleucids in the late 4th century bc at the intersection of east–west caravan routes and the trade route along the Euphrates. It was later a frontier fortress of the Parthian empire and after its capture in ad 165 fulfilled the same role for the Roman empire. After the Sasanian siege in ad 256–7 the city was abandoned. The results of excavations by French and American archaeologists in the 1920s and 1930s threw light on the process of synthesis between Classical and indigenous populations and cultures in Syria-Palestine during Hellenistic and Imperial Roman times. The excavated remains include a synagogue (see §3) with an important cycle of biblical paintings and an Early Christian meeting-house (...


J. V. S. Megaw and M. Ruth Megaw

[Dürrnberg bei Hallein.]

Site of an Iron Age salt-mining centre c. 20 km south of Salzburg in Austria, on the border with Germany (see also Prehistoric Europe §VI). Set in the foothills of the Alps, the site borders the valley of the Salzach River on what was a major north–south trade route from the Early Iron Age until the Middle Ages. It was occupied without apparent interruption from c. 600 bc to Roman times, and it is one of the rare sites where both cemeteries and settlement areas have been found and excavated. Prehistoric corpses were first discovered in the salt mines in 1573. After World War II the pace of scientific excavation increased, noticeably accelerating when a new road necessitated major rescue excavations in 1978–82. Seven uncalibrated radiocarbon dates obtained from the site span the period 720±80 bc to ad 60±90. Dürrnberg is one of the richest sites for finds of ...



Manya Ghazaryan

[Gr. Doubios; Arab. Dabil.]

Site in Artashat province in the Republic of Armenia, 35 km south of Erevan. The remains of settlements dating to the 3rd millennium bc have been found in its hinterland, including massive structures of cyclopean masonry and the foundations of large temples. Further settlements were established around Dvin in the 2nd and 1st centuries bc, when a temple dedicated to the god Tir was probably built (destr. c. ad 314).

Dvin is primarily known for its Armenian architectural remains, which date from its foundation under Khosrov III (reg ad 332–9) until the early 13th century. Its ruins were first recorded by Armenian, Russian and European travellers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Excavations were begun in 1899 under N. Maṙ and resumed in 1907–8 by Khatchik vardapet Dadyan. From 1936 to 1939 systematic excavations were undertaken by Smbat Ter-Avetisyan, from 1946 to 1976 by Karo Ghafadaryan and from ...


T. F. C. Blagg

[anc. Gr. Epidamnos, Lat. Dyrrachium; It. Durrazzo; now Durrës, Albania.]

Site on the Adriatic coast, approximately 30 km west of Tiranë, Albania. It was founded as Epidamnos, as a colony of Corinth and Corfu, in 627 bc, and when the name Dyrrhachion first appeared in the 5th century bc it may have referred only to the port, 5 km north of the walled city. In 437 bc a violent uprising led indirectly, through the involvement of Corfu and Athens, to the Peloponnesian War. In the late 3rd century bc the city became part of the Illyrian kingdom of Glaukias. As Dyrrachium, it remained a free city after the Roman conquests of Macedonia and Epiros (167 bc); as the starting-point for the Via Egnatia (ad 148), the Roman road from the Adriatic to Byzantium, it developed as an important trade and communications centre. The cosmopolitan character of its medieval history reflects its continued strategic significance. It remained a Byzantine stronghold from the 4th century ...


V. M. Masson

[Djeitun; Jeitun.]

Site of a Neolithic settlement in Turkmenistan, on the southern edge of the Karakum Desert, 25 km north-west of Ashkhabad, which flourished from the late 7th millennium bc to the early 6th. It was excavated from 1956 to 1961 by the Turkmenistan Academy of Sciences, and again in 1989 in conjunction with London University. The houses of the settlement each comprised a small single room, of 15 to 35 m sq., containing a large hearth or stove covered with lime plaster. The floors and walls were painted red or black. Finds included flint implements such as trapezoids and segments, small axes of polished stone, slivers of bone, hide scrapers, stone querns, ceramics painted with simple rows of brackets or vertical wavy lines, stone and bone beads, stone pendants of animal forms and small terracotta human or animal figurines.

The main occupation was farming. Single grain wheat (einkorn) was harvested using bone sickles with inserted flint blades. The inhabitants bred cattle, sheep and goats, kept dogs and also hunted antelopes (...


Jeff Karl Kowalski

Site of a Mesoamerican Pre-Columbian Maya city, c. 15 km north of Mérida, Yucatán. Excavation and mapping carried out between 1956 and 1965 revealed that the site covers more than 19 sq. km and contains about 8400 ruined structures, most of which are small platforms that formerly supported perishable pole-and-thatch houses. The majority of some 240 stone-faced, vaulted buildings probably served as élite residences, although the largest pyramidal platforms and vaulted structures, located around the central Cenote Xlacah (cenote: Maya tz’onot, a natural water hole with collapsed limestone sides), probably served for religious and administrative functions. Most of the visible remains lie within this administrative and ceremonial core. North-east of the Cenote Xlacah is the large, open, centralized Main Plaza; another plaza lies to the south-west. Surrounding these are several pyramid-temples and many ranges of vaulted rooms. A central east–west axis is formed by two long sacbeob (raised causeways; sing. ...


Sara Champion

Site of an Early Iron Age burial mound near Ludwigsburg in Baden-Württemberg, Germany (see also Prehistoric Europe §VI 2., (iii)). The excavation in 1978–9 of a flattened and ploughed stony mound 10 km from the high-status Iron Age settlement of Hohenasperg resulted in a spectacular discovery: a ‘princely’ burial dating to c. 550–500 bc. The mound, which had originally measured 60 m in diameter by 6 m high, was found intact and has provided detailed information on a variety of organic objects as well as other, high-quality items, many of which were locally produced.

The mound itself was of elaborate construction and was completed in several stages. A primary mound was built incorporating a stone-lined entrance 6 m wide and flanked by stone walls, while the wooden burial chamber was constructed at a later date. There was time for weeds to grow on the mound before the burial. The remains of workshop debris from the manufacture of special goods for the burial were dug into the primary mound. After the interment the main mound was raised, and a kerb was added at its base. The burial was of a man aged between 40 and 50 years and of exceptional stature for the time: 1.87 m tall with extremely broad shoulders, a large head and well-developed musculature. The body lay on a ...



Eleni Vassilika

[anc. Egyp. Behdet or Djeba; Gr. Apollinopolis; now Idfū.]

Site in Upper Egypt. It is dominated by the Temple of Horus, the most completely preserved of all Egyptian temples, dating mainly to the Ptolemaic period (304–30 bc; see also Egypt, ancient, fig.). To the east of the temple are the ruins of a city (now covered by modern Idfū) dating back at least to the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc). The Temple of Horus was built and decorated by the Ptolemies, although the cult of the god Horus at Edfu is attested since the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc). The remains at Edfu include part of a pylon of Ramesses III (reg c. 1187–c. 1156 bc). Blocks from the forecourt, excavated in the 1980s, date back to the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), but they may have been dragged there from another site....



George F. Andrews

Site of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Maya urban centre, occupied from c. 700 bc to c. ad 1000; its ruins lie in the upper part of a shallow basin known as the Edzná Valley, c. 50 km north-east of the city of Campeche, Mexico. On the basis of several mapping projects, the site is known to cover at least 17 sq. km and therefore ranks among the largest known archaeological sites in the Lowland Maya area. The importance of Edzná, for both archaeologists and art historians, lies in its strategic location between southern Campeche and the Petén in Guatemala and Yucatán to the north. Some of its sculpted monuments show influences from the ‘classic’ sculptural style of the Petén, while others show similarities to the Yucatecan style. The same influences can be seen in architecture: the Large Acropolis includes several buildings in the Petén style, while the Cinco Pisos pyramid shows a combination of Chenes and Puuc traits. While much of Edzná’s history is still obscure, it seems clear that the western part of central Campeche formed an important regional variant of Lowland Maya culture, with Edzná as its principal centre....



Demosthenis G. Giraud

Site on the eastern edge of a row of rocky hills extending along the coast of north-west Attica, to the north of the straits of Salamis and about 20 km from Athens. The town flourished throughout antiquity. Due to its strategic position controlling one of the principal access routes to Attica, it was developed as a stronghold by the Athenians as early as Mycenaean times. However, it was chiefly famous in later eras as the venue for the Eleusinian Mysteries, secret annual rituals held in honour of Demeter and Persephone and open only to initiates of their cult. According to tradition the Mysteries were first celebrated by Eumolpos during the reign of the mythical king Erechtheus. Eleusis was given the status of a panhellenic sanctuary in about 750 bc by a Delphic oracle, and Solon included the Mysteries in his list of official Athenian rites around 700 bc. The sanctuary reached the height of its religious influence and architectural development in Roman times under Hadrian and the Antonines (2nd century ...



Ye. V. Zeymal’

Site of a settlement on the left bank of the Amu River 1.5 km east of the Kaparas fortress, Darganata district, Turkmenistan. The site (c. 1 ha) is surrounded by a wall of rammed earth. Excavations under L. M. Levina (1973–5) revealed the impressive central building (50×37 m) of clay and unbaked bricks. The walls and vaulted ceilings survive to a height of 5.5 m. More than 20 rooms were uncovered. A period when the building fell into disuse is marked by a level of sandstone alluvium, when some rooms were carefully filled in with brick rubble. The walls, ceilings and floors of all the rooms and corridors had white plaster covered with red and black paint. Traces of polychrome painting have also been preserved in the wide, arched niches on the northern façade of the building. In the layer of sandstone alluvium, fragments of painted plaster were found, as well as broken pieces of painted clay sculptures and reliefs. The sculpture exhibits no clear signs of Hellenistic influence. One piece bears traces of paint together with small bronze medallions that were used to indicate clothing decoration. The paintings and sculptures may be among the oldest examples of monumental art found in Central Asia, if the suggested date for the building of the last centuries ...



M. Soar

[Elura, Marathi Verul; anc. Elāpura.]

Site of outstanding cave temples, datable between c. ad 575 and the end of the 9th century, 20 km north of Aurangabad in the Sahyadri Hills, Maharashtra, India. The caves were excavated into volcanic rock along a 2-km stretch of west-facing embankment; there are 34 major caves, numbered consecutively rather than chronologically, starting with the Buddhist group (Caves 1–12) in the south. Other groups are dedicated to the Brahmanical pantheon (Caves 14–29) and to Jainism (Caves 30–34). The most notable monument is Cave 16, the Kailasa Temple.

The caves contain some of the best examples of large-scale sculptured reliefs in India. The earliest caves, which are Hindu, were excavated between c. 575 and 600, when the Kalachuris of Maharashtra family and Chalukya §1 were struggling for supremacy of the Deccan. Cave 29 is largely modelled on Cave 1 at Elephanta but without the three-faced relief of Mahadeva and the central positioning of the four-doored ...



Thorsten Opper, M. Rautmann, Anton Bammer, Ulrike Muss and Mark Whittow


Site of an important Classical city on the west coast of Turkey, c. 2 km south-west of modern Selçuk. It has been occupied since perhaps as early as the 10th century bc, and its Late Classical Temple of Artemis (Artemision), built on the site of an earlier temple from the Archaic period, was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

M. Rautmann

According to Greek tradition, Ephesos was founded in the 10th century bc by Ionian settlers near the mouth of the River Cayster. From the mid-6th century bc it was ruled successively by the Lydians, Croesus of Lydia extending the unfortified city inland, and the Persians. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 bc, and throughout antiquity Ephesos was an important trading centre, its prestige enhanced by the construction of the colossal Temple of Artemis (6th century bc, rebuilt 4th century bc) on the plain to the north-east of the city. In the early ...


R. A. Tomlinson and Ann Thomas Wilkins

Site on the south side of the Saronic Gulf in Greece that flourished especially in the 4th and 3rd centuries bc. Though traces of the ancient city exist, its fame derives from the Sanctuary of Asklepios c. 10 km inland from Epidauros town, which was the principal cult-centre of the healing god in mainland Greece (see fig.). Here there are remains of a Bronze Age settlement, later abandoned, and an early sanctuary of Apollo. Until the end of the 5th century bc the place was of little importance and architecturally undistinguished. The cult of Asklepios began to develop significantly only at this time, perhaps because of the plague that devastated Athens and adjacent regions in the early 420s bc and the general malaise that resulted from the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431–404 bc). With the exception of the theatre, the sanctuary buildings are badly ruined. The site was excavated principally by the Greek archaeologist ...



Michael D. Willis

[anc. Airikiṇa.]

Site of a ruined city and temple complex in Sagar District, Madhya Pradesh, India, 80 km north-west of Vidisha. The site first drew the attention of archaeologists in the mid-19th century but was excavated only in the 1960s, by a team from the University of Sagar that set the origin of the settlement to c. 1750 bc. Eran was an important religious centre in the eastern Malwa region in the 4th and 5th centuries ad; as with many ancient cities, the sacred complex was set apart from the town proper. By the 8th century Eran had been largely superseded by Badoh.

The monumental remains at Eran, clustered together on a gentle curve of the Bina River, consist of a row of four ruined shrines, two standing pillars and numerous sculptural and architectural fragments. The oldest stone sculpture at the site is a broken image of a yakṣī (female nature spirit) that dates to the second half of the 4th century ...



David S. Brose

Site in north-west Georgia, USA, where a densely occupied, haphazardly planned agricultural village flourished in the Mississippian period (c. ad 1000–c. 1600). It covers 21 ha at the junction of the southern Appalachian Mountains and the piedmont, at the major fork of the Coosa River. The site was surrounded by palisades with outworks. Within the village area were three large mounds arranged around an open plaza. Mound A, the largest, has a ramp. Both it and Mound B are flat-topped pyramidal structures, presumably built to support temple buildings. Excavations in Mound C (intermittent since 1884) reveal it to have been built in at least three stages, during the construction of which over 300 burials were interred.

In the last stage, after c. ad 1400, only a few socially élite burials (including rather impoverished retainers) were placed in a tomb dug below the floor of a temple on Mound C’s final summit. Large carved stone cult statues marked the entrance to the burial chamber. The élite individuals were fully dressed in ritual costumes and were accompanied by ...


Phil C. Weigand

[Itzatlán; Ytzatlán]

Site in the highland lake district of Jalisco, Mexico. A Pre-Columbian settlement dating mostly to the Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–1521), it is partly overlain by the modern town of Etzatlán. Ruins surround the town and may represent wards of the ancient settlement: Rancho San Antonio (north-west), Ranchos Guaje and Cortijo (north-east), Huistla (west), Chirimoya and La Garita (east), and Santa Clara (south), together with Puerto de Veracruz, El Templo, and others. The siting of the ancient town and its environmental setting facilitated communications with peoples on the Pacific coast. Data gathered during modern sewer and water-line excavations and from archaeological excavations in 1967 by M. Glassow at Huistla have contributed to a systematic understanding of ancient Etzatlán.

The most important ceremonial plaza, surrounded by low platforms, lies beneath a Franciscan convent (1534), which is one of the earliest in west Mexico. Another section is under the adjacent ...


O. T. P. K. Dickinson

Site south-west of Thebes, in central Greece, where Hetty Goldman’s major excavation campaign (1924–7) revealed a long and informative prehistoric sequence, running from the later Neolithic period through almost the entire Bronze Age. Indications of later occupation are present but sparse. Early Helladic (eh; c. 3600/3000–c. 2050 bc) strata make up the bulk of deposit, while Middle Helladic (mh; c. 2050–c. 1600 bc) is poorly represented until near its end. There are important building levels covering the mh to Late Helladic (lh; c. 1600–c. 1050 bc) transition (the abundance of Mainland Polychrome in the third ‘mh’ level demonstrates its equivalence to lh i) and, although few lh buildings were uncovered, a fortification wall, enclosing much unoccupied territory as well as the settlement, was identified, dating to lh iiib (c. 1335–c. 1180 bc). The rather small quantity of ...


Harriet Martin

[anc. Shuruppak.]

Site of an ancient Sumerian city beside the Euphrates, in the middle of Sumer (now in Iraq). The city flourished c. 3000–c. 2000 bc, although the Babylonian King List mentions a dynasty at Shuruppak ‘before the flood’. All versions of the Babylonian flood story name Shuruppak as the home of the Babylonian ‘Noah’. Under the Ur III kings (2112–2004 bc), Shuruppak was an administrative centre with its own ensi (ruler). The city was eventually abandoned when the Euphrates changed course. Tell Fara was excavated by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft in 1902–3 (finds in Istanbul, Archaeol. Mus. and Berlin, Pergamonmus.) and by the University of Pennsylvania in 1931 (finds in Baghdad, Iraq Mus., and Philadelphia, U. PA, Mus.). The excavations of 1902–3 recovered little architecture but many objects, most belonging to the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900–c. 2334 bc). Altogether over 900 cuneiform tablets of Early Dynastic IIIa were excavated by both expeditions....