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Article

Nimet Özgüç

Site in central Turkey that flourished in the first half of the 2nd millennium bc, in a fertile plain watered by the River Karasu. The oval mound of Acemhöyük, measuring 700×600 m, and 20 m high, rises in the centre of the town of Yeşilova, 18 km north-west of Aksaray; it was surrounded by a lower city 600 m wide, now covered by the modern town. Acemhöyük was thus the largest ancient settlement in this agricultural region, and excavations were begun in 1962 by a Turkish team led by Nimet Özgüç. Some of the objects from the excavations are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara; most are in the archaeological museums at Niḡde and Aksaray; and a fine collection of ivories from the site is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Occupation of the mound began at least as early as 3000 bc and the surviving architectural remains and artefacts from the Early Bronze Age settlements (levels IX–VI) testify to the existence of a distinctive local culture that nevertheless maintained close links with contemporary settlements in central Anatolia and Cilicia. The lower town was first occupied in ...

Article

Ai  

Joseph A. Callaway

[‛Ay; now Khirbet al-Tall; et-Tell, Arab.: ‘The Ruin’]

Site of a walled Early Bronze Age city of 11.1 ha, 24 km north of Jerusalem. It was built c. 3100 bc by outsiders from north Syria over a village of c. 3200 bc. It survived through four major phases until c. 2350 bc, when an unknown enemy sacked and burnt the entire city and drove away its inhabitants; even its ancient name was lost. In about 1200 bc, pioneer settlers from the coastal region moved inland and established a village of 1.2 ha on the acropolis ruins of the ancient site, which was occupied until c. 1050 bc. The site was excavated from 1933 to 1935 by Judith Marquet-Krause and from 1964 to 1972 by Joseph Callaway. Finds are in the Rockefeller Museum and the Hebrew University, both in Jerusalem. The site has been identified as the biblical city of Ai, captured by Joshua (Joshua 7:2–5 and 8:1–29), although there is, in fact, no evidence of occupation then....

Article

J. D. Hawkins

[Ayin-Dara]

Site on the west bank of the River Afrin in Syria, about 5 km south of the town Afrin. Attention was drawn to the ancient site by surface finds of sculpture, and a large Neo-Hittite temple of the early 10th century bc was located below five levels of later occupation. Excavations here by the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities in 1956, 1962 and 1964 have been reported, but more recent work has not been published. Finds are in situ or in the National Museum in Aleppo.

Parts of the north-west and south-west sides, with a fragment of a south-east façade, have been excavated and published. The remains suggest a structure of regular rectangular plan measuring in total not less than 38×32 m. An exterior terrace wall seems originally to have been faced with continuous slabs of fine black basalt on a dressed plinth; some of these were found in situ...

Article

Ora Negbi

[Tell el-‛Ajjul; anc. Sharuḥen]

Site of a Bronze Age city in Israel that flourished in the 2nd millennium bc. It consists in a large mound 6 km south-west of Gaza, which was excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in the early 1930s. Petrie presumed that he was excavating ancient Gaza, the Egyptian administrative capital of the southern province of Canaan during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1500–c. 1200 bc). Re-evaluation of the historical and archaeological evidence has confirmed the identification of the site with Sharuḥen, the Hyksos stronghold besieged and plundered by Ahmose (reg c. 1539–c. 1514 bc), the founder of the New Kingdom, at the close of the Middle Bronze Age (the Hyksos were Semitic rulers of Egypt in the 17th and 16th centuries bc). Finds are widely spread, with important collections in the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, the British Museum, London, and the Petrie Museum at University College, London....

Article

Donald F. Easton

[Alaca Hüyük; Alaja Hüyük]

Site in north-central Turkey, c. 40 km south-west of Çorum and 160 km east of Ankara. It was occupied in the Bronze Age (from c. 3400 bc) and later. Of greatest artistic interest are 14 Early Bronze Age (eb) royal tombs and the sculptures from the Hittite city gate (see fig.). The ruin mound is on a natural hillock; it measured c. 250×320 m and had c. 14 m of deposit. A lower town has not been identified. Early investigations of the site were conducted by Ernest Chantre (1863), Georges Perrot (1865), Henry John Van Lennep (1869), Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1881) and Théodor Macridy (1906). The Turkish Historical Society began systematic excavations in 1935 under Remzi Oǧuz Arık, and these continued under Hamit Zubeyr Koşay, assisted by Mahmut Akok, in 1936–49 and 1963–79. In the excavations up to at least ...

Article

Donald F. Easton

[Alishar]

Site in north-central Turkey, c. 45 km south-east of Yozgat, once occupied by a town of considerable importance in the development of Anatolia, ancient. It flourished from the Early Bronze Age (eb), before c. 3000 /date BC, and reached its apogee in the Middle Bronze Age (mb), c. 2000–c. 1500 /date BC, when it boasted an Assyrian trading colony and was probably the seat of an Anatolian king. It comprises a mound (245×145 m), which rises 32 m beside a tributary of the Konak Su, and a lower terrace (520×350 m). The site was excavated by the University of Chicago from 1927 to 1932, clearing the mound to Post-Hittite levels and then trenching down to ground-water level; virgin soil was reached only on the terrace. Nineteen occupation phases were distinguished on the mound and fourteen on the terrace. Finds from the excavations are housed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara....

Article

John M. Russell

[Turk.: ‘lion-stone’ ; anc. Hadatu]

Site in Syria, c. 35 km north-east of Til Barsip on the Harran–Euphrates road. It was an Assyrian town: its ancient name, preserved in two inscriptions from the site, is mentioned elsewhere only in the ‘Harran Census’ (7th century bc). The site was excavated by François Thureau-Dangin in 1928; finds are in the Louvre, Paris, and in the National Museum, Aleppo. The Assyrian features recovered were a town wall with three gates, a palace, a large house and a small temple dedicated to the goddess Ishtar. Later remains included a small Hellenistic temple. The town wall (l. c. 2 km) enclosed a roughly oval area of 30 ha. Two colossal basalt lions in the east gate gave the site its modern name, and fragments of another two were also found in the west gate. A cuneiform inscription on one fragment mentions Hadatu. Another, originally against the wall, is inscribed with a lengthy Aramaic text that includes a fragmentary personal name ...

Article

Marcella Frangipane

[ Malatya]

Site in eastern Turkey, in the Malatya Plain on the right bank of the River Euphrates. It is a large artificial mound (h. c. 30 m) formed by the superposition of successive dwellings from about the 5th millennium bc to the Islamic period, c. 12th century ad. It was a strategic political and economic centre, especially in the Late Uruk period (c. 3300–c. 2900 bc), and was important in the cultural contexts of both Mesopotamia and Anatolia, ancient. Finds from the excavations are housed in the Malatya Museum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.

Excavations in the southern area of the mound have revealed a stratified succession of four monumental public buildings of mud-brick at a depth of c. 8 m; radiocarbon dating has suggested that these structures were built c. 3300–3000 bc. Most have thick walls and stone foundations, and contain several rooms. Many niches, plastered and painted white, or more rarely red, are set in the interior walls. Building I, the most recent, has a recognizable temple plan with a rectangular cella containing a central podium and a basin for sacrifices against the end wall; on one side are two communicating rooms for storage. The walls of the main room are richly decorated with concentric ovals stamped with a mould, comparable to an example from southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in Uruk itself....

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

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

Clare Goff-Hill

[Pers. Bābājān]

Site on the Nurabad plain in the Luristan region, central Iran. The site comprises a group of three mounds that were excavated in 1966–9 and revealed complex buildings of the 1st millennium bc with decorated interiors. The most significant remains date from the 9th to 7th centuries bc, when newcomers established themselves on the summit of the earlier prehistoric mound. Their stone village was soon replaced by a large, fortified, mud-brick ‘manor’, consisting of a central courtyard (17.5×9.5 m) flanked to the west and east by two long, rectangular living rooms, with eight towers defending the perimeter. When the manor was rebuilt (for plan see Iran, ancient, fig.b) most of the towers were demolished and the central courtyard was roofed in, the roof being supported by two irregular rows of wooden columns. Further rooms were added to the sides, and to the east was a long buttressed recess possibly serving as a verandah or portico....

Article

Babylon  

[Akkad. Bab-ilim: ‘gate of god’]

Site in Iraq, 80 km south of modern Baghdad. It was once the capital and most important city of Babylonia (see Babylonian). It first rose to prominence under Hammurabi (reg 1792–1750 bc) and reached its peak of development under the Neo-Babylonian kings in the 6th century bc and was occupied until Sasanian times. Babylon was excavated by Austin Henry Layard (1850), Fulgence Fresnel (1852), Hormuzd Rassam (1879–82), and Robert Koldewey and Walter Andrae (1899–1917). Since 1958, excavations have been carried out by the Directorate-General of Antiquities, Baghdad, and the German Archaeological Institute. Finds from the early excavations are divided between the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. More recent finds are in Baghdad (Iraq Mus.) and in a museum on the site.

Babylon was the largest settlement in ancient Mesopotamia, extending over an area of some 850 ha. The oldest known reference attests the construction of a temple in Akkadian times (late 3rd millennium ...

Article

Bampur  

Beatrice de Cardi

[Pers. Bampūr]

Site of settlements in Iranian Baluchistan (see Iran, ancient, §I, 2, (ii)), of the 4th to late 3rd millennium bc and later. It was dominated by a citadel and situated near important caravan routes. Trial trenching by Sir Aurel Stein in 1932 produced an assortment of wares; further excavations by Beatrice de Cardi in 1966 resulted in the discovery of a ceramic sequence based on six phases of occupation. Stein’s collections, relating largely to Bampur periods V and VI, are in the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; material from the later excavations is divided between the Archaeological Museum, Tehran, and study collections in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; and the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

A few stylistic links with the pottery of Yahya, Tepe period IVC suggest that Bampur was settled by the late 4th millennium ...

Article

Stephan Kroll

[Pers. Basṭām; anc. Rusai.uru.tur]

Site in the north-west of Iran of a major Urartian castle of the first half of the 7th century bc (see Urartian). Bastam lies c. 50 km north of the modern city of Khoy and c. 1300 m above sea-level. The site is on a steep mountain cliff on the left bank of the River Aq Chay, overlooking a wide, fertile plain. In antiquity several channels were diverted from the river to water the adjacent plains. A major east-west route ran past Bastam, connecting the Urartian capital in Van (eastern Turkey) with territories in what are now Azerbaijan and Armenia. The site was discovered in 1967 by Wolfram Kleiss of the German Archaeological Institute in Tehran, who conducted excavations from 1968 to 1978. The finds are in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran.

In reorganizing his kingdom, the Urartian king Rusa II (reg c. 680–640 bc) erected in Bastam one of his three royal residences (...

Article

Bavian  

John M. Russell

Site in northern Iraq, c. 60 km north-east of Mosul. Near the modern village of Bavian, at Khinnis on the River Gomel, is the head of a canal built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (reg 704–681 bc) to supply water for Nineveh. The site is best known for its Neo-Assyrian rock reliefs (see also Mesopotamia, §III, 6, (i)), which were described and illustrated by Austen Henry Layard and Walter Bachmann. In 1934 Thorkild Jacobsen and Seton Lloyd traced the water transfer system. A large stone block (6×4×8 m; now broken) was placed at the point where water was diverted into the canal. Two of its faces are sculpted with human-headed bull colossi flanking a human figure holding a lion (a group used also on the façades of Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh) and with images of the king worshipping gods who stand on sacred animals. A large relief (9.3×9.2 m) on the rock face just south of the canal head depicts two gods flanked by two images of the king. The ...

Article

Beidha  

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....

Article

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...

Article

G. Herrmann

[Bîchâpour; Pers. Bĭshăpŭr]

Site of Sasanian city 21 km east of Kazerun in south-west Iran. It was founded by the Sasanian king Shapur I (reg ad 241–72) and flourished in the early and middle Sasanian periods (see Sasanian). A relatively small area of the large, approximately rectangular city was cleared by Ghirshman in the 1930s, together with some of the defensive walls.

The purpose of the excavated buildings is disputed. They were once identified as a temple and associated palaces, but the whole area may have had a religious function. One structure, built of fine, ashlar masonry, is semi-subterranean and consists of a central square cella or court surrounded by an ambulatory. A series of subterranean stone channels linked the structure to the river, enabling the cella to be flooded when required. The building was once considered to be a fire temple (see Zoroastrianism, §1), but was more probably dedicated to the goddess Anahita. Another building consists of an enormous hall with four iwans opening on to it; its roofing and that of the stone temple are conjectural. The walls were decorated with simple painted stucco, and the pavements of some floors were covered with mosaics, almost certainly the work of Roman mosaicists. The geometric motifs and ornamental details in these mosaics are Greco-Roman, but there are also distinctively Iranian scenes with subjects such as dancers and harpists. Shapur’s greatest military successes were achieved against the Romans, whom he defeated three times, finally capturing the unfortunate Emperor Valerian alive. Many prisoners were settled in Iran, and their influence is much in evidence at Bishapur, in its orthogonal plan, in the ashlar masonry used for the temple and for the commemorative monument erected at the intersection of the city’s two main axes, and in the mosaics....

Article

Bisitun  

Vesta Sarḳhosh Curtis

[Pers. Bīsutūn; anc. Bagastāna: ‘Site of the gods’; Behistan, Behistun]

Site in Iran on the eastern edge of the Zagros Mountains, situated on the Great Khorasan Road, the ancient Silk Road, which leads from southern Mesopotamia to Kirmanshah and eastern Iran. Set high on a cliff overlooking the road is the famous rock-relief of the Achaemenid king Darius I (reg 521–486 bc;, which commemorates his victory over Gaumata, the false Smerdis, and nine rebel kings. Work on the relief took from 520 to 519 bc. The relief is accompanied by a trilingual inscription in Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian. This describes Darius’s royal descent and lineage, his campaigns and his victories over his opponents.

The relief, measuring 3.0×5.5m, shows Darius followed by a spear-bearer and a bow-bearer. He is depicted in profile wearing a crown and a long robe. In triumphant gesture he puts one foot on the defeated Gaumata, who is lying on the ground, pleading to the king of kings. Darius’s right hand is raised towards the figure in a winged disc set above. Behind Gaumata is the row of captured kings roped together at the neck, with their hands tied behind their backs. They include the Persian Martya, the Sagartian Chissantakhma, the Persian Vahyazdata, the Armenian Arakha and the Median Fravartish. The final figure, that of the Scythian Skunkha, was added to the relief at a late stage. The theme, with the king stepping with one foot on the body of an outstretched captive, is similar to that on a relief of King ...

Article

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....