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Amman  

Adnan Hadidi, Alastair Northedge and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. ‛Amman; anc. Rabbath Ammon, later Philadelphia]

Capital of the kingdom of Jordan and site of a city that flourished between the 2nd millennium bc and the 14th century ad. The site lies in a fertile, well-watered area in the tableland to the east of the River Jordan, on the biblical King’s Highway (the ancient Roman Via Nova Traiana), which ran from Bosra in the north to the Red Sea in the south.

The ancient city consisted of the citadel, or acropolis, built in three terraces rising from west to east on a steep-sided, L-shaped hill, and the lower town in the valley of the Wadi ‛Amman to the south. The earliest material found on the citadel dates to the 3rd millennium bc; from c. 1100 bc until 582 bc the city was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon. Excavations around the perimeter of the hill have uncovered Ammonite tombs and Hellenistic and early Roman occupation from the ...

Article

Seton Lloyd

[Arab. ‛Aqarqūf; anc. Dur Kurigalzu]

. Site in Iraq of the ancient capital city of the Kassites, which flourished c. 1400–1157 bc (see also Mesopotamia, §I, 2). The ruins of ancient Dur Kurigalzu are 15 km west of modern Baghdad, at the point where an outcrop of soft limestone marks the northern extremity of the alluvial plain. The eroded core of its Ziggurat (now partly rest.) is visible from the highway leading west to Ramūdī and the desert crossing to Jordan. The mud-brick fabric of its structure is reinforced with deep layers of reed-matting and faced on all sides with kiln-baked brick.

Iraqi excavations at Aqar Quf in 1942–5 under Taha Baqir led to the discovery of a complex of temple buildings at the foot of the ziggurat itself. A Kassite dynasty ruled Babylonia from the 16th century to the 12th century bc, apparently maintaining the ancient civic and religious traditions of Mesopotamia. The architecture of this temple precinct was therefore characteristic of the period (...

Article

J. D. Hawkins

[Boğazkale]

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 (...

Article

Byblos  

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 (...

Article

Pierre Amiet

[Pers. Chughā Zanbīl; anc. Dur-Untash]

City built by the Elamites in the second half of the 14th century bc. The site lies some 40 km from Susa in south-east Iran, at the edge of a sandstone plateau that dominates the course of the River Dez, an effluent of the Karun. It was discovered in 1935 by geologists during an aerial survey. Exploration by Roland de Mecquenem in 1936–9 was completed by Roman Ghirshman between 1951 and 1962.

The city, built by Untash-Napirisha, King of Anzan and of Susa (i.e. King of Elam), consisted of three concentric enclosures. The main temple stood at the centre, in the ‘sacred enclosure’ (sian-kuk; 210×175 m). This temple was built in two stages and was initially a square building with a central courtyard, the design of which was not specifically religious; it more closely resembled a large storehouse, with windowless rooms on either side of the door in the middle of each wall. Two groups of rooms were sanctuaries dedicated to Inshushinak, the supreme god of Susa; one sanctuary opened on to the inner courtyard and one towards the outside. Later, three blocks fitting one into the other were erected in the courtyard; they formed the upper storeys of a tower or ziggurat, with the original building forming the lower storey (...

Article

Damghan  

Chahryar Adle

[Dāmghān]

Town on the road to Mashhad in northern Iran, 344 km east of Tehran. On the southern edge of the modern town are the ruins of the prehistoric site of Hissar, Tepe. Of the numerous Parthian and Sasanian sites near Damghan, the most important is Shahr-i Qumis, located 32 km to the south-west. In ad 857 Qumis was hit by a violent earthquake that destroyed the town’s system of underground irrigation channels (Pers. qanāt) and hastened its decline, to the advantage of Damghan, which received its water supply from the source of Chashma ‛Ali. The walls, bazaar and main streets of Damghan were determined before the mid-12th century. The earliest remaining Islamic monument is the Tarik-khana Mosque (9th century). Its elliptical arches and massive columns, resembling those of Sasanian palaces, show the adoption of pre-Islamic techniques for the construction of an Arab-type hypostyle mosque. The Imamzada Ja‛far complex includes one of the earliest funerary stelae in Iran; it commemorates the martyrdom (...

Article

Elmalı  

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....

Article

Eridu  

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 (...

Article

Gerasa  

M. Rautmann and J. M. C. Bowsher

[anc. Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas; now Jerash]

Ancient city in Jordan, set in the hills of Gilead c. 45 km north of Amman. It flourished from the 2nd century bc to the 7th century ad; the site is in the modern town of Jerash. Founded by Antiochos IV of Syria (reg 175–164 bc), Gerasa first rose to importance as Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas during Hellenistic and Roman times. Its location between Pella and Philadelphia ensured its continued prosperity as one of the cities of the Decapolis in Roman Syria. Gerasa’s shift to the new province of Arabia in ad 106 sparked its greatest urban flourishing, which continued until its capture by the Persians in ad 614 and the Arabs around ad 635. Although ancient Gerasa remained occupied until the 8th century ad, it was devastated by a major earthquake c. ad 746, and later sources suggest that it was abandoned. The site was discovered in 1806 by the German traveller ...

Article

Hama  

Rupert L. Chapman

[Ḥamā, Ḥamāh; bibl. Hamath; anc. Gr. Epiphania]

City on the River Orontes in inland western Syria. The tell has been occupied almost continuously since Neolithic times.

Hama’s location on the Aleppo–Damascus road ensured its prosperity for long periods (see also Syria-Palestine, §I, 1). Its position also exposed it to influence and domination by a wide variety of cultures. In the 9th century bc Hama was ruled by a Neo-Hittite dynasty, which was replaced c. 800 bc by an Aramaean one (see Aramaean). The city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 bc and its population deported, as mentioned in the Bible (2 Kings 17:24); occupation on the tell was limited to an Assyrian garrison. Hama was included in the Roman Empire after the conquest of Syria by Pompey in 64 bc. In 1812 J. L. Burckhardt visited Hama and discovered what later proved to be hieroglyphic Hittite inscriptions (see Hittite). The tell, which dominates the modern town, was excavated in ...

Article

Harran  

Seton Lloyd

[anc. Carrhae]

Ancient city on the Anatolian plateau in Turkey, c. 30 km south of Urfa, where a trade route from the Euphrates crosses the modern Turco-Syrian frontier. The site was visited and described from the mid-19th century by such travellers as R. C. Chesney, C. Preusser, Gertrude Bell, K. A. C. Creswell and T. E. Lawrence. From 1950 onwards it was surveyed and excavated by S. Lloyd, W. Brice and D. S. Rice. The main mound, in the centre of the site, rises 20 m above the level of the plain, undoubtedly covering the ruins of an Assyrian temple to the moon-god Sin.

Harran was probably already a centre for the cult of the moon-god in the 2nd millennium bc. After the fall of Nineveh (c. 612 bc) the last Assyrian king, Assur-uballit II (reg 612–609 bc), transferred the remains of his court briefly to Harran. Three stelae bearing cuneiform inscriptions of the Babylonian king ...

Article

Hatra  

Wathiq al-Salihi

[Arab. al-Ḥaḍr]

City in northern Iraq about 110 km south-west of the modern city of Mosul, in an area known as the Jazira. It flourished from the 2nd century bc to the 3rd century ad and was an important caravan city that played a significant role in the cultural and political development of the area. It was a great centre for Arab tribes since it had an abundance of fresh water from numerous springs and from the nearby Wadi Tharthar, and every house, temple or courtyard had at least one well. The site also had a strategic importance, for it controlled the military and trade routes across the desert and along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Consequently, wealth poured in, allowing its rulers to build new temples and public buildings and to strengthen the fortifications so that it became one of the wealthiest cities in Mesopotamia.

There are no literary sources concerning the foundation and development of the city, so that its early history is mainly dependent on archaeological and architectural evidence. It seems that the site was partially settled in the ...

Article

Hazor  

Jonathan N. Tubb

[now Tell el-Qedeh; Tell Waqqas]

Major Canaanite and Israelite city of the 2nd and 1st millennia bc, situated c. 14 km north of the Sea of Galilee and c. 8 km south-west of Lake Huleh. The site comprises a mound (the Upper City), which rises about 40 m above plain level and covers an area of c. 6 ha at its summit, and, to the north, a large rectangular enclosure (the Lower City) c. 1000×700 m. This enclosure is protected to the west by a massive earthen rampart and a deep fosse, to the north by a similar rampart but without a fosse, and to the east by the steep slope reinforced by a glacis. The enclosure is separated from the mound on the south side by a deep ditch. The first trial soundings were conducted in 1928 by J. Garstang, but the results were not fully published. Extensive excavations were undertaken between 1955...

Article

Maltai  

John M. Russell

Village in northern Iraq, near Dohuk c. 70 km north of Mosul, notable as the site of four Neo-Assyrian rock reliefs. On the cliffs south of the village, about 200 m above the Rubar-e Dohuk River valley, four reliefs (each c. 6×2 m) are carved on the limestone rock face. The panels all depict the same nine figures arranged in a single line: two images of the Assyrian king, and seven gods all facing left, wearing horned crowns and standing or sitting on the backs of mythical creatures (see Mesopotamia, fig.). As identified by Julian Reade (in RLA), the figures (from left to right) are as follows: first, the Assyrian king faces right in a pose of worship; second, the state god, Assur, stands on the dragon of the Babylonian god Marduk and a horned lion; third, Ninlil/Mulissu, consort of Assur, sits on a throne on the back of a lion; fourth, the moon god Sin stands on a lion-dragon. The identity of the fifth god is uncertain: Reade suggests the sky god Anu or, less probably, Enlil, standing on the dragon of Marduk. Sixth, the sun god Shamash stands on a horse; seventh, the weather god Adad, holding lightning bolts in his hands, stands on a lion-dragon, accompanied on one panel by a bull; and eighth, some form of the goddess Ishtar stands on a lion. At the right is the Assyrian king again, this time facing left. None of the panels is inscribed, so their date has been a matter for discussion. On the basis of a somewhat similar rock relief at ...

Article

Holly Pittman

[anc. Anshan]

Iranian site and capital of the ancient Elamite state, on the plateau north-west of Shiraz, which was occupied at least from the early 3rd millennium bc to the end of the 2nd millennium, and again during the Sasanian period (ad 224–651). Five seasons of excavations were conducted by William Sumner in the 1970s, and the finds are preserved in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran. In the early 3rd millennium bc the material culture of Malyan was equivalent to the Proto-Elamite phase of Susa (see Elamite). Multicoloured wall paintings with crenellations and sigmoidal curves also known in glyptic art have been found in a large public structure. Between c. 2800 and c. 2000 bc there was limited occupation at Malyan. Seals and seal impressions from the early 2nd millennium bc are comparable to those at Susa, with presentation scenes and animals depicted in a similar style; there is also buff pottery painted in black with geometric patterns and birds. During the subsequent period (...

Article

Mari  

J.-C. Margueron

[now Tell Hariri]

Capital of an important kingdom of the 3rd millennium bc and the early 2nd, situated in Syria on the River Euphrates. A sequence of palaces culminated in that of King Zimri-Lim in the first half of the 18th century bc, which incorporated earlier structures and was decorated with wall paintings. An archive found in this palace has helped to establish a close chronology and has illuminated this whole period of history. Sculpture was excavated in all levels but was particularly rich in the mid-3rd-millennium bc temples. Mosaic panels have also survived.

Mari was established 120 km south of the confluence of the Euphrates with the River Khabur and 15 km north of the present-day frontier dividing Syria and Iraq. The Euphrates is the main link between Mesopotamia and Anatolia and crosses the north Syrian route to the Levant and eastern Mediterranean. This meant that Mari was well placed to control trade. The city’s ruins cover an area 1400 m square, on the middle terrace of the river valley ...

Article

Maskana  

J.-C. Margueron

[Mesken; Meskene; Miskina]

Small town in north Syria on the south bank of the River Euphrates near an ancient site known in antiquity as Emar, in Byzantine times as Barbalissos and in Islamic times as Balis. It lay on an ancient trade route between the Mediterranean, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The site was excavated in 1929 and again between 1971 and 1976 during salvage operations accompanying the building of the Tabqa Dam. The minaret was dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground, but the ancient site and Maskana itself have been flooded by Lake Assad. Finds are in the National Museum, Aleppo, and the Musée du Louvre, Paris; objects looted from the site are in numerous private collections.

J.-C. Margueron

This Bronze Age city flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc as a staging-post on a major trade route, where not only goods but also ideas and influences were exchanged. The city is mentioned in the Ebla texts of the second half of the 3rd millennium ...

Article

Nuzi  

D. L. Stein

[Gasur; now Yorgan Tepe]

Provincial town in northern Iraq, 13 km south-west of Kirkuk. It flourished under the Mitannians between c. 1450 and 1330 bc (see Mitannian) and was excavated between 1925 and 1931 by three successive American directors: E. Chiera, R. H. Pfeiffer and R. F. S. Starr. The finds are largely divided between the Iraq Museum (Baghdad), the Oriental Institute Museum (U. Chicago, IL) and the Harvard Semitic Museum (Cambridge, MA). Beneath surface remains of Partho-Sasanian date (early 1st millennium ad), the site yielded a sequence of 15 occupational levels from the late 6th millennium bc to the late 2nd. The site was called Gasur in the Akkadian period (late 3rd millennium bc), and the name Nuzi refers to the uppermost Mitannian occupation (Stratum II), which is the best known.

Nuzi is famous primarily for its archives of Hurro-Akkadian tablets written in cuneiform script and found both on the fortified citadel and on two smaller mounds near by, in buildings identified as a palace, two adjacent temples of Ishtar and Teshup, municipal quarters and private estates. The tablets, most of which are sealed, record administrative, economic, legal and religious affairs spanning five or six generations. Their ...

Article

Margaret Cool Root

[now Takht-i Jamshīd]

Capital of the Achaemenid Persian empire in south-west Iran, near modern Shiraz, from c. 515 to 331 bc.

The name Persepolis is ancient Greek, meaning ‘city of the Persians’, but the Persians themselves called their city ‘Parsa’, meaning Persia, apparently because for them it was symbolically synonymous with the greater imperial heartland. Persepolis was founded by Darius the Great (reg 521–486 bc) c. 515 bc; it was looted and burnt by Alexander’s army in 331 bc. It was Alexander’s general policy not to destroy the captured Achaemenid cities, as part of a basic ambition to embrace and extend the splendour of Persian imperial power. The ancient authorities give various explanations for Alexander’s unusual vindictiveness at Persepolis, one story suggesting that it was in retaliation for the Persians’ sacking of the Acropolis of Athens and other Greek sanctuaries during the wars of the early 5th century bc. This tale may be fanciful, yet it reveals the profound significance of Persepolis in the eyes of the Greeks as well as the Persians....

Article

J. D. Hawkins

[Sakçagözü; Sakce-Geuzi; Sakce Gözü; Sakje-Geuzi]

Village 50 km west of Gaziantep in south-east Turkey on the road to Adana. Sakça Gözü is not itself an ancient site, but has given its name to a number of nearby mounds, in particular that of Coba Höyük, where Neo-Hittite remains of the early 9th–8th centuries bc were excavated by John Garstang in 1908 and 1911; John Waechter and others investigated the earlier levels in 1949. The site had first attracted attention as a source of sculpture. A set of three orthostata showing a lion hunt (Berlin, Pergamonmus.) was discovered in Sakça Gözü village, and similar fragments were found on the surface of Coba Höyük. These pieces were published in 1890. Sculpture and objects found during later excavations are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

On the top of Coba Höyük, about 10 m above plain-level, a Neo-Hittite fortress was exposed, almost rectangular in plan except where the north-west wall curved in, following the contour. The massive dry-stone enclosure wall surrounded an area ...