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A. R. Millard

Two ancient states that flourished from c. 1300 bc to c. 600 bc in present-day Jordan. Edom and Moab shared territory east and south of the Dead Sea. Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) campaigned there c. 1274 bc; Israel controlled both states in the 10th century bc, and Moab finally broke free c. 840 bc. They were dominated by Assyria in the 7th century bc and then by Babylonia. Excavations at sites such as Buseira, Dibon and Heshbon have uncovered stone buildings and pottery similar to Iron Age Palestinian products. Edomite pottery is distinctive, painted with red and black horizontal bands and chevrons. Monumental sculpture from Moab includes a basalt stele from Balu‛a (Amman, Jordan Archaeol. Mus.), north of Kerak, bearing in low relief, in imitation of the Egyptian style, a scene of the gods Amon-Re and Hathor investing a king. Above it, parts of five lines in a barely legible and unidentified script perhaps record a local ruler’s accession, under Egypt’s aegis, in the ...


Helen M. Strudwick, Claude Vandersleyen, Dimitris Plantzos, William A. Ward, William H. Peck, Dominic Montserrat, John Baines, Gay Robins, J. Ruffle, Lise Manniche, Rosemarie Klemm, Jean-Luc Chappaz, Joachim Śliwa, Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Ann Bomann, R. G. Morkot, Peter Lacovara, Delia Pemberton, Rita E. Freed, Philip J. Watson, Robert S. Bianchi, Henry G. Fischer, Jaromir Malek, S. Curto, Nadine Cherpion, James F. Romano, Karol Mysliwiec, Richard A. Fazzini, Edna R. Russmann, Eleni Vassilika, updated by Dimitris Plantzos, Edda Bresciani, Claude Traunecker, T. G. H. James, W. J. Tait, J. H. Taylor, Dorothea Arnold, Jack Ogden, Jean Vercoutter, Carol Andrews, Donald P. Ryan, E. Finkenstaedt, Paul T. Nicholson, Rosemarie Drenkhahn, Willemina Z. Wendrich, Robert Anderson, Barbara G. Aston and Morris Bierbrier

Civilization that flourished in the Nile Valley for three and a half thousand years, from c. 3000 bc to ad 395.

Helen M. Strudwick

The boundaries of ancient Egypt were formed by substantial natural barriers: to the south the 1st Nile cataract, to the north the Mediterranean and to the east and west the deserts ( see fig. ). There are only three basic components of the physical geography of Egypt: the Nile, flowing from south to north between fertile banks, and the two areas of desert on either side. In the north the Nile branches into many streams through the Delta and finally flows out into the Mediterranean.

The fertile plain through which the Nile runs is solely the result of the annual flooding of the Nile and the deposition of silt carried in suspension by the flood waters. The silt deposition is most noticeable in the areas closest to the river, and consequently the land there is slightly higher. The annual inundation of the Nile was a natural phenomenon caused by the large amounts of rain that normally fall in the summer months in the highlands to the south of Egypt and the ...



Pierre Amiet

Inhabitant of Elam, an ancient state that flourished intermittently from the 4th millennium bc to the 1st, in the area that is now Fars and Khuzistan in south-west Iran. The Elamites spoke a language that was neither Semitic nor Indo-European, and its linguistic affinities are problematic. At certain periods of their history they produced a lively and distinctive art, which they transmitted eastwards along one of the great trade routes of antiquity as far as Afghanistan and the Indus valley.

The frontiers of the original Elam are uncertain, but its heart was the city of Anshan (or Anzan; now Tall-i Maliyan in Fars), on the plateau north-west of Shiraz. The other great city that was sometimes under Elam’s sphere of influence was Susa, some 400 km to the north-west of Anshan, the capital of Susiana (now Khuzistan), which was a rich agricultural plain with a mixed population of settled Semitic peasants and townspeople, and nomadic Elamites from the surrounding uplands and from the plateau. During the periods when Susa fell under the influence of Mesopotamia (now Iraq, to the west) the state of Elam lost all political importance. Thus the history of Elam alternates between periods of prosperity, when the Elamites of Anshan controlled Susa and the main east–west trade route, and periods of obscurity when Susa came under Mesopotamian rule and the Elamites returned to a nomadic existence. The Elamites were frequently in conflict with Mesopotamia throughout their history....


Dimitris Plantzos


Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...



M. J. Mellink

Town in the district of Antalya, south-west Turkey. Elmalı is set in a fertile plain c. 1100 m above sea-level, which is dotted with ancient sites that belonged to Lycia or the Milyad in Classical times. Roads from Lycian coastal sites lead through mountains and river valleys to Elmalı, from where connections upland to Pisidia and Burdur are easy. Excavations of a site of the 3rd millennium bc and of two painted tombs of c. 500 bc were carried out by M. Mellink from 1963 onwards on behalf of Bryn Mawr College, PA. Finds are in the Archaeological Museum in Antalya; the wall paintings remain in situ. In 1986–7 two tumuli excavated by a team from Antalya Museum produced Phrygian and other grave goods of c. 700 to c. 600 bc.

At Karataş-Semayük, excavations revealed a fortified mansion of the early 3rd millennium bc and a village of megaron-shaped houses in which the extensive use of timber is noticeable. In the burial grounds individual and family burials were contained in large jars. Early art is evident in metalwork (e.g. a silver pendant in double-axe shape and a silver pin with boar’s head finial), in designs on terracotta stamp seals and in incised and applied animal figures on pottery. Red polished pottery is decorated with white painted ornament....



Sinclair Hood


Modern and perhaps ancient name of a site on the south coast of Chios. It was excavated by the British School at Athens in 1952–5. The first settlement, at the foot of a rocky hill by the harbour, revealed an occupation sequence with ten periods (X–I) from Neolithic (before c. 4000 bc) to Early Bronze Age (Troy I–II; c. 3000–c. 2000 bc); traces of Middle and Late Bronze Age habitation (c. 2000–c. 1050 bc) were noted on the hill above. Settlers using Late Helladic iiic (c. 1180–c. 1050 bc) pottery occupied the site at the end of the Bronze Age (c. 1200 bc): they may have been Abantes from Euboia. In the 8th century bc, Ionian Greeks founded a Sanctuary of Apollo on the edge of the former Mycenaean settlement but built their town on the slopes of Prophitis Elias Hill north of the harbour, below a walled acropolis with a ruler’s house and Sanctuary of Athena. The town was abandoned by the end of the ...



Jacques-Claude Courtois

Bronze Age site at the mouth of the River Pedieos in eastern Cyprus, c. 8 km north-west of Famagusta. The settlement, the ancient name of which is uncertain, was founded towards the end of the Middle Cypriot period (c. 1700 bc) and subsequently became one of the principal Late Cypriot (lcyp) cities in the island. It was destroyed by fire and earthquake c. 1050 bc, when its surviving inhabitants moved to nearby Salamis. The site was first explored in 1896 by scholars from the British Museum; later Swedish, French and Cypriot expeditions (1930–70) unearthed an extensive area of the ancient city.

The prosperous unwalled city of the mid-14th century bc was fortified a century later, when it was surrounded by a Cyclopean wall made of two parallel rows of large unhewn blocks with a superstructure of mud-brick; several towers were built at regular intervals against the south wall. At the same time the area within the walls was laid out on a regular grid plan that foreshadowed Hellenistic cities: 11 straight streets crossed the single north–south main street at right angles and served 24 residential blocks, while at the centre of the town there was a rectangular paved open space or public square (...



Seton Lloyd

[now Tell Abu Shahrein.]

Ancient Mesopotamian city that flourished between c. 5000 and c. 2100 bc. Eridu once lay on the shore of a tidal lagoon created by the Euphrates estuary but is now a table-shaped mound remotely situated in the desert in Iraq. It was regarded by the Sumerians as their oldest city, respected as the religious centre of the god Enki (Sum.: ‘Lord Earth’) rather than as a political power.

In 1855 and 1918–19, the British archaeologists Consul J. G. Taylor and Reginald Campbell-Thompson respectively conducted unproductive excavations at Eridu. The 1946 to 1949 excavations of the Iraq Antiquities Directorate, under Fuad Safar and Seton Lloyd, were more successful, showing that the main mound covered a rectangular precinct (200×150 m) that was raised several metres above ground level and supported by a mud-brick retaining wall. At one end were the ruins of an unfinished ziggurat built by a late king of Ur (...



Susanne Juhl


Early Bronze Age Chinese culture (first half of the 2nd millennium bc) distributed throughout Henan Province and surrounding areas, named after the village of Erlitou, situated in Yanshi County, Henan Province, near the modern city of Luoyang, where the largest site pertaining to the culture was found. The distribution and dating of the Erlitou culture largely corresponds to information in historical texts about the Xia dynasty, said to be the first dynasty in China, and some scholars identify the Erlitou culture at least partially with the Xia.

Excavation began at Erlitou in the 1960s, revealing a cultural layer 3–4 m thick divided into four chronological periods, each lasting c. 100 years, beginning c. 1900 bc and terminating c. 1500 bc. The site covers 3 sq. km. In the centre are the remains of two palatial structures (gongdian), and in the south a bronze manufacturing area. Specialized workshops for ceramics and bone implements, pottery kilns, small house foundations, storage pits, wells and human burials have also been excavated....


Michael Roaf

Area in north-western Iraq that was the subject of intense archaeological investigation between 1978 and 1987 as a result of the construction of a dam across the River Tigris. In the course of the Eski Mosul (or Saddam) Dam Salvage Project, numerous sites were excavated along both sides of the River Tigris from a few kilometres upstream of the town of Eski Mosul to the Syrian border. Although the area was not agriculturally wealthy and did not contain the remains of important historical cities, much information about the art and archaeology of the region was recovered.

The earliest works of art from the Eski Mosul region come from the pre-pottery Neolithic site of Nemrik, which is dated to the 8th millennium bc. There several schematic stylized animal, bird and human sculptures have been found carved out of stone (Baghdad, Iraq Mus.).

The investigations also cast new light on the attractive painted and incised pottery styles of the first half of the 3rd millennium ...


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 ...



R. J. Leprohon and T. G. Wilfong

Egyptian semi-oasis region c. 80 km south-west of Cairo on the Bahr Yusuf, an ancient channel of the Nile (see fig.). In the north-west is Lake Qarun, a remnant of the ancient Lake Moeris, an important part of ancient Egyptian cosmogony since it was reputed by some to be the site of Nun, the primeval ocean. Throughout the Dynastic and Greco-Roman periods (c. 2925 bcad 395) the major god worshipped in the Faiyum was the crocodile-headed Sebek (Gr. Suchos), but the region had a large Jewish community from the 3rd century bc, and Christianity probably arrived in the 1st century ad. Major sites in the Faiyum include the Middle Kingdom monuments at Hawara, el-Lahun and Qasr el-Sagha, and Greco-Roman towns at Qasr Qarun and Kom Ushim. The principal Coptic monuments are the monasteries of Deir el-Azab and Deir el-Malak, and there is a 15th-century mosque in the regional capital 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....


Peter French

[Arab. Tall al-Fara‛īn; anc. Egyp. Pr-Wadjit; Copt. Puoto; Gr. Buto.]

Ancient Egyptian city in the western Delta that flourished during the Predynastic and Saite periods. The ancient Egyptian name of the city was Pr-Wadjit (‘House of Wadjit’), and its principal deities were Wadjit, the snake-goddess, and Horus, the falcon-god. More commonly known as Buto, the site was a sacred place of great iconographic importance.

British excavations (1964–9) revealed a major temple, probably dating from the Saite period (664–525 bc). Egyptian excavations (1987–8) have also uncovered stelae and statues dating to the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc) and the Late Period (c. 750–332 bc), in the area around the temple. Grants of land were made to the temple according to an early Ptolemaic stele, later reused in a Cairo mosque. Apart from a hoard of bronze hawks (Cairo, Egyptian Mus.), few other objects of artistic importance have been found, due to the wet climate, the salty soil and the fact that surface remains are of an industrial city of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Since ...



R. G. Morkot

[Egyp. Sehetepneterw; Copt. Pachoras.]

Site in Egypt on the west bank of the Nile, 35 km north of Wadi Halfa. Since the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, Faras has been submerged beneath Lake Nasser. There were three important phases in the history of Faras: the later New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), when it was rebuilt by Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc) as the administrative capital of Lower Nubia; during the Meroitic period (c. 300 bcad 360), when it was again a regional capital; and Christian times (8th–15th centuries ad) when it was the seat of a bishop.

In terms of Nubian art the Meroitic and Christian phases at Faras are the most important. The large Meroitic cemetery has produced a great quantity of pottery vessels in fine painted wares, and painted pottery has long been recognized as one of the most important aspects of Meroitic art, revealing influences from Pharaonic, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt in its forms and the decorative motifs employed (...


A. F. Harding

Bronze Age monumental ritual centre and fortified complex in the valley of the Taravo, 6 km from the sea in southern Corsica. The area was known as a source of antiquities for many years before excavations by Roger Grosjean in 1954–9 (never fully published) uncovered an extensive area of fortifications and occupation on the low hill that forms the centre of the site. The excavations demonstrated a sequence extending from the Neolithic period through the Bronze Age (5th to 2nd millennia bc) to the ‘Torrean’ phase of the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age (c. 1200–600 bc), equivalent to the Nuragic culture of Sardinia.

The site, on a small rocky hill, has discontinuous Cyclopean walling enclosing an area roughly 135×45 m. Extensive use was made of the natural outcrops in building the walls. In addition to the house foundations, the dominant features are two subcircular tower-like constructions, the ‘Monument central’ and the ‘Monument ouest’. The first contained six complete and thirty-eight fragmentary statue menhirs set on and around the revetting wall. In the interior was a small circular chamber, apparently for cult use. In the second tower were found the remains of a dry-stone-walled round building 15 m in diameter, with a narrow entrance on the uphill side, leading to a cella-like central room with a domed vault. Fine pottery was found in it (Sartène, Mus. Dépt. Préhist. Corse)....


Paul G. Bahn

Cave site in France, in the Beune Valley 1 km from Les Eyzies, Dordogne. It is one of the most famous and historically important sites for Palaeolithic cave art (see also Prehistoric Europe, §II, 1). The cave of Font de Gaume had been known and visited throughout history, but the paintings were found only in 1901 by Denis Peyrony, a few days after the discovery of art in the nearby cave of Les Combarelles. A description of the paintings, largely the work of the Abbé Breuil, Abbé Henri, was published in 1910, but more figures have since been found, and the cleaning of the walls in the 1960s, together with continuing conservation work since then, has improved the visibility of many images.

The cave is c. 120 m long, with a ceiling up to 10 m high and a width of c. 1.5–3.0 m (for layout of cave ...


Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...


Philip E. L. Smith

Early Neolithic mound in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran, occupied from c. 7500 to c. 6600 bc. Finds from Philip Smith’s excavations (1967–74), now in the Archaeological Museum, Tehran, and in Montreal, illustrate the material culture of a society in a transitional phase between hunting and gathering, and true food production based on a sedentary life (see Iran, ancient, §I, 2, (i), (b)). At this site the only controlled sources of food were barley and goats, and subsistence was still largely based on wild resources.

The earliest level had no permanent architecture and was probably a seasonal encampment. The later levels contain buildings of mud-brick and other materials; some are two-storey and are intricately subdivided into cubicles. Skulls of wild sheep were attached to the walls of some buildings, possibly for ritual purposes. A characteristic of this site is the varied and sophisticated use of clay. Soft-baked pottery occurs in small quantities, sometimes used for storage vessels. There are many baked clay animal figurines (probably representing goats, sheep and pigs in most cases) and schematic female figurines. Many hundreds of small geometric clay items also occur: cones, tetrahedrons, balls and discs. There are impressions and incisions on pottery, clay discs and bone artefacts. Personal ornaments are common, consisting of stone and bone beads, perforated shells (some from the Persian Gulf) and pendants....



Paul G. Bahn

Cave site in France, near Montréjeau in the foothills of the central Pyrenees Mountains. It is important for its examples of Palaeolithic cave art (see also Prehistoric Europe, §II, 1). The cave of Gargas had long been known for its abundance in skeletons of Ice Age fauna when, in 1906, its art was first reported by Félix Regnault, a local scholar. The material recovered in subsequent excavations is housed in the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Paris, and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Toulouse. The cave comprises 530 m of galleries, in two sectors on separate levels. The lower cave originally had a huge porch, which subsequently collapsed; an artificial entry has been punched through to an enormous gallery c. 140 m long and 25 m wide, containing many large stalagmitic formations and several side chambers. The upper cave, reached by a modern staircase, is narrower and more tortuous. There are a few paintings (one in the lower cave and four in the upper) of such animals as bison and ibex, and innumerable meandering finger tracings on the ceiling, some of which form animal figures. However, the fame of Gargas rests on its animal ...