Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE: The Example of Tell

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Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East Volume 2

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Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East 25–29 April 2016, Vienna Edited by Barbara Horejs, Christoph Schwall, Vera Müller, Marta Luciani, Markus Ritter, Mattia Giudetti, Roderick B. Salisbury, Felix Höflmayer and Teresa Bürge


Harrassowitz Verlag · Wiesbaden

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Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East Volume 2 Prehistoric and Historical Landscapes & Settlement Patterns Edited by Roderick B. Salisbury Economy & Society Edited by Felix Höflmayer Excavation Reports & Summaries Edited by Teresa Bürge


Harrassowitz Verlag · Wiesbaden

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Bibliografische Information der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet über abrufbar. Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the internet at

For further information about our publishing program consult our website © Otto Harrassowitz GmbH & Co. KG, Wiesbaden 2018 This work, including all of its parts, is protected by copyright. Any use beyond the limits of copyright law without the permission of the publisher is forbidden and subject to penalty. This applies particularly to reproductions, translations, microfilms and storage and processing in electronic systems. Printed on permanent/durable paper. Printing and binding: Memminger MedienCentrum AG Printed in Germany ISBN 978-3-447-10997-0

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Contents PREHISTORIC AND HISTORICAL LANDSCAPES & SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (edited by R. Salisbury) R. Koliński An Archaeological Reconnaissance in the Greater Zab Area of the Iraqi Kurdistan (UGZAR) 2012–2015 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 J. S. Baldi Chalcolithic Settlements and Ceramics in the Rania Plain and Beyond: Some Results of the French Archaeological Mission at the Governorate of Sulaymaniyah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 R. Brancato Settlement Patterns in the Upper Tigris River Region between the 4th and 1st Millennia BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 J. Ferguson Across Space and Time: Results of the Wadi ath-Thamad Project Regional Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 C. Coppini The Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project: Preliminary Results from the Analysis of the Second Millennium BC Pottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 C. Verdellet The Foothill of Zagros during the Bronze Age: SGAS Preliminary Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 J.-J. Herr Neo-Assyrian Settlements in Rania, Peshdar and Bngird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 M. Labbaf-Khaniki Long Wall of Asia: The Backbone of Asian Defensive Landscape . . . . . . . 113 C. del Cerro Linares Landscape and Settlement Patterns on the Al Madam Plain (Sharjah, EAU) during the Iron Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 C. Castel – G. Mouamar Third Millenium BC Cities in the Arid Zone of Inner Syria: Settlement Landscape, Material Culture and Interregional Interactions . . . 137

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S. A. Shobairi Beyond the Palace: Some Perspective on Agriculture and Irrigation System in the Achaemenid Heartland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 S. Döpper – C. Schmidt Settlement Continuity and Discontinuity in Northern Central-Oman . . . . . 163 J. Budka The Urban Landscape of Upper Nubia (Northern Sudan) in the Second Millennium BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 A. Politopoulos Creating Imperial Capitals: From Aššur to Kār-Tukultī-Ninurta . . . . . . . . 191 Y. Kanhoush Tell Mishrifeh-Qatna (Syria), Area T: First Approach to a Middle Bronze Age Residential Area in the Upper Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 M. Sharifi Archaeological Excavations and Studies in the Zard River Basin Ramhormoz, Khuzestan, Iran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215 D. D. Boyer Landscape Archaeology in the Jarash Valley in Northern Jordan: A Preliminary Analysis of Human Interaction in the Prehistoric and Historic Periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223 ECONOMY & SOCIETY (edited by F. Höflmayer) T. Adachi – S. Fujii Shell Ornaments from the Bishri Cairn Fields: New Insights into the Middle Bronze Age Trade Network in Central Syria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239 J. S. Baldi Between Specialized Productions and Hierarchical Social Organizations: New Data from Upper Mesopotamia and the Northern Levant . . . . . . . . . 247 T. Bürge – P. M. Fischer Ivory at the Transition from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age in Transjordan: Trade and Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 S. Caramello Physicians on the Move! The Role of Medicine in the Late Bronze Age International Gift Exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275

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E. Casadei Linking the River and the Desert: The Early Bronze Age I Pottery Assemblage of the Wadi Zarqa Region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287 P. Charvát Oriental Subtleties: Counter-marking of Archaic Ur Seals Again . . . . . . . . 303 A. C. Felici – A. Fusaro – A. Ibrahim – K. Lashari – N. Manassero – M. Piacentini – V. Piacentini Fiorani – A. Tilia Banbhore, a Major Trade Centre on the Indus’ Delta: Notes on the Pakistani-Italian Excavations and Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315 A. García-Suárez Re-evaluating the Socioeconomic Role of Small Built Environments at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 T. B. H. Helms Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE: The Example of Tell Chuera, NE Syria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337 L. Hulin – S. German Up from the Sea: Mariner Networks in Ports across the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357 F. Marchand Use-wear Analysis of Bronze Age Lithics in Tell Arqa (Akkar Plain, North Lebanon) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369 R. Matthews – A. Richardson – O. Maeda ‘Behind all those Stones’: Activity and Society in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Eastern Fertile Crescent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377 V. Oselini The Cultural Influence of Mesopotamian States in the Upper and Middle Course of the Diyala River during the Mid-2nd Millennium BC . . . . . . . . . 391 W. J. Reade – K. L. Privat Glass Vessels from Hellenistic Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates, Syria: An Indicator of Greek Influence in the East? Questions of Production . . . 405 G. Tucci Workshops in the Southern Levant: The Case of Jewellers during the Late Bronze Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 419

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M. Yamafuji Subsistence Systems in a Semi-Arid Zone: Late Early Bronze Age (EBA) Self-Sustenance of the Copper Production Centre in Faynan Region, Southern Jordan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 431 EXCAVATION REPORTS & SUMMARIES (edited by T. Bürge) D. Al Yaqoobi – M. Shepperson – J. MacGinnis Excavations on the Fortifications of the Citadel of Erbil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 447 V. W. Avrutis Southern Levantine Interregional Interactions as Reflected by the Finds from an Early Bronze Age I Burial Ground at Nesher-Ramla Quarry (el-Hirbe), Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 461 A. Chaaya Results of the First Season of Excavation at the Medieval Castle of Gbail/Byblos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 475 A. D’Agostino – V. Orsi The 2013–2015 Excavation Seasons at Uşaklı Höyük (Central Turkey) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485 I. Gagoshidze – E. Rova 2013–2015 Activities of the Georgian-Italian Shida Kartli Archaeological Project at Aradetis Orgora (Georgia) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 497 A. Golani – S. R. Wolff The Late Bronze I and Iron Age I Remains at Tel Dover in the Jordan Valley, Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 511 V. R. Herrmann – D. Schloen Zincirli Höyük, Ancient Sam’al: A Preliminary Report on the 2015 Excavation Season . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 521 M. Işıklı A Pioneer Site in Urartian Archaeology: Rusahinili Eiduru-kai. A summary of twenty-five years of excavations at Ayanis castle in Van, Turkey . . . . . . 535 H. Koubková – Z. Wygnańska Early Third Millennium BC Settlement in the Western Khabur Basin: Preliminary Results of the Pottery Analysis from the Khabur Basin Project Surveys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 547

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M. Makinson – Z. Wygnańska A Spatial and Functional Analysis of ‘Building 4’ at EBA III Tell Fadous-Kfarabida (Lebanon) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 563 M. Malekzadeh – A. Hasanpour – Z. Hashemi Bronzes of Luristan in a Non-funerary Context: Sangtarashan, an Iron Age Site in Luristan (Iran) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 577 A. Polcaro – J. R. Muñiz Dolmen 534: A Megalithic Tomb of the Early Bronze Age II in Jebel al-Mutawwaq, Jordan: Preliminary results of the 2014 Spanish-Italian expedition in Area C South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 589 G. Russo The Iron Age Pottery from Tell Mishrifeh (Qaṭna): Preliminary Results from the German-Syrian Excavations . . . . . . . . . . . . . 601 T. E. Şerifoğlu – N. MacSweeney – C. Colantoni Before the Flood: The Lower Göksu Archaeological Salvage Survey Project: The results of three seasons of survey in the Göksu river valley of Mersin Province, Turkey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 613 K. Shimogama The Japanese Excavations at Tell Ali al-Hajj, Rumeilah, on the Euphrates: Settlement, Material Culture and Chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 627 T. B. B. Skuldbøl – C. Colantoni Culture Contact and Early Urban Development in Mesopotamia: Is Garbage the Key to Understanding the ‘Uruk Expansion’ in the Zagros Foothills of Northeastern Iraq? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 639 A. Tenu Excavations at Kunara (Iraqi Kurdistan): New Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 653

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Foreword to the 10th ICAANE Proceedings The 10th anniversary of the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East was held from 25th to 29th of April 2016 in Vienna, hosted and organized by the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology (OREA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. More than 800 participants from 38 different countries found their way to Vienna to celebrate the 10th anniversary of ICAANE with a wide range of 8 scientific sections, 28 workshops and round tables, a huge poster exhibition and a special section about ‘Cultural Heritage under Threat’. The topics in focus of this ICAANE covered traditional, as well as new fields, in relation to state-of-the-art approaches and methodologies. The general themes of transformation and migration, cultural landscapes, religion and rituals, environmental shifts, contextualized images, as well as economies and societies, are currently promising fields in archaeology and these proceedings give new insights into former Near Eastern societies. These general questions are obviously challenging topics in present times, too, a fact that is leading us archaeologists into a dialectic discourse of past and present social phenomena. This additional impact within our scientific community and beyond is underlining the ongoing fascination and power of Near Eastern archaeology. The first volume includes papers of the sections ‘Transformation and Migration‘, ‘Archaeology of Religion and Ritual’,‘Images in Context’ as well as ‘Islamic Archaeology’. The second volume is dedicated to the sections ‘Prehistoric and Historical Landscapes and Settlement Patterns’, ‘Economy and Society’, and is completed by ‘Excavation Reports and Summaries’. A number of presented posters are integrated in the theme relevant chapters too. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the editors of these sections, namely Teresa Bürge, Mattia Guidetti, Felix Höflmayer, Marta Luciani, Vera Müller, Markus Ritter, Roderick Salisbury and Christoph Schwall. Altogether 28 workshops focussing on special research questions and themes demonstrated the ongoing dynamic and new inputs in Near Eastern archaeology. The engaged discussions of internationally high-ranked experts with young scholars was essential for the success and open atmosphere of the 10th ICAANE in Vienna. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the workshop organisers, who are also acting as editors for the separate workshop volumes, published as internationally peer-reviewed books in the OREA series of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, of which some are already in print, accepted or in preparation at the moment. The conference was delighted to have two keynotes given by Mehmet Özdoğan and Timothy Harrison; both pointed to the current political conflicts and related massive destruction of cultural heritage from different perspectives. In facing the current conflicts and continuing damage of cultural monuments in regions of the Near East, we are confronted with situations going far beyond the usual scientific challenges. Although we have to observe highly frustrating ongoing destructions and can hardly influence the general political situation, the archaeological

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community is responsible for supporting, re-evaluating and advancing ongoing essential strategies in digital preservation of the cultural heritage and other current activities in that field. Therefore, we decided to organize a Special Section within the 10th ICAANE about Cultural Heritage under Threat, where well-known experts and political authorities discussed the current challenges and future perspectives in a very fruitful and open atmosphere. This special section was organized with the great support of Harald Stranzl, the Austrian Ambassador at UNESCO for the Austrian Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. The discussions and contributions were accomplished by signing the ‘Vienna Statement’ (s. below) by a total of 34 authorities for antiquities in Near Eastern countries, European institutions and stakeholders. My sincere thanks are expressed to Karin Bartl and her engagement in organizing this special section. The 10th ICAANE aside its impact on international archaeology, can additionally be seen as a powerful boost for the archaeological endeavours in Austria and for our local scientific community, not at least visible in the fruitful cooperation of several archaeological institutions acting committedly in our Local Organising Committee: the Historical-Cultural Faculty and the Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies (University of Vienna), the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection of the Kunsthistorische Museum, the Austrian Archaeological Institute, members of the Austrian Academy of Sciences as well as the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology. My sincere thanks go to Manfred Bietak, Vera Müller, Hermann Hunger, Bert Fragner, Regina Hölzl, Claudia Theune-Vogt, Michael Doneus, Markus Ritter, Christiana Köhler, Marta Luciani, Sabine Ladstätter, Karin Kopetzky and Angela Schwab for their engagement in the local committee and making this conference real. I extend sincere thanks for financial support to several Austrian and international institutions, which are The Austrian Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the University of Vienna, the City of Vienna, the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF), the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), the Austrian Orient Society/Hammer Purgstall Society and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The OREA institute took over the honourable duty hosting this conference with lots of effort and energy, all our institutes’ members, students and scientists were involved in some parts and the OREA team together was making this conference running. Particular thanks and recognition also go to Angela Schwab, Ulrike Schuh and Christine de Vree. Finally, I thank the ICAANE Scientific Committee and the Harrassowitz Publishing House.

Prof. Dr. Barbara Horejs Director of the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology Austrian Academy of Sciences

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ECONOMY & SOCIETY edited by F. Höflmayer

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Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE


Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE: The Example of Tell Chuera, NE Syria Tobias B. H. Helms  1 Abstract This article discusses socioeconomic aspects of fortifying a large Early Bronze Age (EBA) city with special regard to the site of Tell Chuera as a case study. To set the stage, I will briefly address the overall archaeological context as pertaining to the rise of fortified cities. In particular, I will argue that the later EBA, i.e. the second half of the 3rd millennium BCE, saw an increase in the scale of violent inter-communal conflicts, a development that is indicated by the evolution of elaborate urban defence systems. Afterwards, I will summarize the diachronic development of Tell Chuera’s defence works. To conclude, I will discuss how the construction and maintenance of the site’s fortifications was linked to the social organization of the city-state in regards to one important aspect of early urbanism: communality of defence.

1. The rise of Early Bronze Age fortress communities The Early Bronze Age (hereafter EBA) of greater North Mesopotamia was a period characterized by a massive surge of (secondary) urbanism (Akkermans and Schwartz 2003; Stein 2004; Ur 2010; Wilkinson et al. 2014). Already centuries before the earliest textual sources cast a spotlight on the social and economic conditions of the later 3rd millennium, a network of early highly nucleated urban polities had evolved. High population and communication densities within these early cities made them hotbeds for social transformations. New forms of sociality developed (partial dissolution of face-to-face societies), socioeconomic complexity intensified (state formation), new socio-political institutions evolved (rise of communal organizations and palatial elites) and urbanism expanded on an unprecedented scale (foundation of urban sites in agriculturally marginal zones). The dry-farming plains and river valleys of the north became increasingly territorialized as a meshwork of autonomous and semi-autonomous city- or micro-states emerged, which together came to form a distinct North Mesopotamian city-state culture (Stein 2004). Given the rich archaeological record of North Mesopotamia’s early city-states, it is hardly surprising that this period is often portrayed as an apex of cultural achievements and a milestone in the development of arts. Yet, besides being subjected to new forms of social stress including unhealthy living conditions, which are usually assumed for pre-modern cities (e.g. York 2012: 126), and working overtime for the emergent central institutions (corvée), there was another, darker side connected to the urban way of living: endemic warfare. From a

1 University of Mainz, IAW, Arbeitsbereich Vorderasiatische Archäologie.

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comparative perspective, warfare is often regarded as a typical feature of early citystate cultures (Hansen 2000: 17) with the city-states of greater Mesopotamia being no exception (Archi 2010: 15). Certainly, the millennia that preceded the EBA were not devoid of armed intergroup conflicts. Ethnographic evidence for warfare among agriculturalists in non-state societies is ample (Helbling 2006: 149–150). It is, of course, a matter of debate whether ethnographic data collected for the most part during the last two centuries – often in the context of colonial contact situations – permits inferences about, e.g., prehistoric village life in the ancient Near East. However, there are also archaeological observations that point towards organized violence during the later prehistoric and proto-historical periods (for a discussion of the Neolithic evidence see Müller-Neuhof 2014). This applies especially to the Late Chalcolithic (hereafter LC), a period characterized by trajectories towards primary urbanization (Ur et al. 2011; Stein 2012); here, we are confronted with a growing body of archaeological evidence for violent conflicts, most importantly in the form of the LC 3 mass graves at Tell Majnuna/Brak (McMahon et al. 2011; McMahon 2013) and traces of early warfare uncovered at the site of Tell Hamoukar (Reichel 2006). However, it is the EBA period, the mid- to late 3rd millennium BCE in particular, when the impact of inter-community conflicts becomes highly visible in the archaeological record as it appears to have permeated different aspects of the material culture ranging from the spatio-functional design of settlements to the visual arts and technological innovations. Defence works constitute the most concrete evidence for inter-community conflicts. Urban settlements of the EBA regularly feature fortification walls, which by themselves suggest a situation in which communities felt under (real or perceived) threat of being targeted by enemy attacks. The desire or rather the necessity to create defensible space (Creekmore 2014: 44) was undoubtedly a defining element of EBA urbanism. As a societal function, communality of defence does not only describe one important feature of North Mesopotamia’s early cities. It probably also fostered a ‘psycho-sociological condition’ on the parts of the communities who surrounded themselves with earthen walls, which is why I think it is possible to characterize them as fortress communities. Herein lies the source for the pronounced symbolism of the walled city in the Bronze Age and beyond. From their primary function as a means of protection and controlling access derives the multifold symbolic meanings of the fortress (Ristvet 2007: 198–204). During the EBA, the landscape of Mesopotamia – a landscape of tells to the modern observer – developed into one dominated by fortress communities. The importance of the defensive infrastructure is underlined by the fact that even comparably small sites could boast massive, sometimes downright oversized defensive structures. A good example for such a small fortress community is the site of Tell Rad Shaqrah, which is situated in the Middle Khabur region (Bieliński 1992; Bieliński 1993; Bieliński 1994; Bieliński 1995; Bieliński 1996; Kolinski 1996; Quenet 2011: 31–32; Pfälzner 2011: 141–142). The EBA (EJZ 2–4b; Quenet 2011) site extended only over about 1.3ha, but was nonetheless heavily fortified by a 2 to 4m wide stone-based mud brick wall. The for-

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Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE


tification was additionally reinforced by a supplementary rampart. Further examples of smaller sites with astonishingly substantial defence works have been excavated in the Middle Euphrates valley, a region characterized by a “… deeply-rooted fortification tradition …” (Peltenburg 2013: 238; see also Cooper 2006: 69–88). Tell el-ʿAbd (4ha) eventually came to be surrounded by a 10 m wide fortification wall, while the defences of Jerablus Tahtani (1.5ha curtain wall plus sloped rampart) measured at least 12m in width (Peltenburg 2013: 37). Not only were the majority of EBA cities and towns fortified, the way defence systems were designed and constructed also underwent profound changes over the course of the EBA. While the fortifications of the early 3rd millennium BCE excavated thus far can be described either as a ‘de facto city wall’ formed by the adjoining exterior walls of buildings (example: Habuba Kabira B, Levels 2–3, Cooper 2006: 71, fig. 5.5; Peltenburg 2013: table 1) or as a simple enclosure (examples: Tell Kneidej, Klengel-Brandt et al. 2005; Kharab Sayyar, Hempelmann 2008; Hempelmann 2013; Tell Chuera), the defence works of the mid- and late 3rd millennium BCE became increasingly massive and complex. New defensive elements, such as sloped earthen ramparts, were introduced and quickly adopted in order to counter advances in the field of poliorcetics and impede siege tactics (Rey 2012; for a general treatise on the construction and function of various defensive elements of the Bronze Age see also Burke 2008). In fact, the earliest textual, and possibly also pictorial evidence on the use of siege machinery and siege tactics (use of rams, siege shields, scaling-ladders, siege towers, use of fire arrows) does likewise stem from the later EBA (Steinkeller 1987; Schrakamp 2013a; Nadali 2009). An increasing complexity of 3rd millennium BCE fortifications is indicated by the construction of double-walled fortifications (Cooper 2006: 74–78) and defensive arrangements in which a main fortification wall was combined with one or more, lower pre-walls. Moreover, later EBA urban defence systems could integrate fortified strongpoints or citadels. This has been revealed by the archaeological exploration of the so-called Bazi-citadel, a fortified structure on a hilltop which, according the excavators, formed an element of the extended Bazi-Banat settlement complex (Einwag 2008; Otto 2006). It is noteworthy that changes in warfare techniques and technology that occurred during the EBA, in particular from the mid to the late 3rd millennium BCE, were not limited to the field of fortifications and poliorcetics. It affected other areas as well, such as: a) the development of specialized offensive and defensive weapons (earliest attested use of personal armour and shields), b) the use of animal traction in a military context (introduction of the four-wheeled chariot), c) the increased importance of bows and arrows as weapons of war, and d) the earliest pictorial evidence for individual combatants becoming subjected to a regime of coordinated discipline (Stele of the Vultures), i.e. closed formation of heavy infantry men (cf. Miller et al. 1986; Backer 2009; Gernez 2008; Hnila Gilibert 2006; Schrakamp 2010; Schrakamp 2013a; Schrakamp 2013b).

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I agree with R. Bernbeck (2004), who concluded in an article on ancient technology, that warfare techniques were probably a main focus of technological innovation during the 3rd millennium BCE. Not unlike the ‘military revolutions’ discussed in connection with the Hellenistic (e.g. Roth 2008: 397–398) or the early modern period (e.g. Duffy 1980), the changes that occurred between the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE in greater Mesopotamia had a lasting effect on the possibilities and constraints of warfare amongst the city-states and early macro-states of the late 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. I assume that it was a combination of several factors that made the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE particularly threatening. When the dry-farming plains of the north became increasingly territorialized, it became more difficult to avoid confrontations by ‘simply’ moving away and relocating the settlement to an area that was not already claimed by another polity. While this might have been an option for prehistoric villagers it was most certainly not for the townsfolk of the highly urbanized mid to late EBA. Secondly, armed conflicts of the later 3rd millennium BCE could have reached a far greater scale compared to earlier times since they affected large nucleated populations that would have involved not only individual urban communities, but changing coalitions of city-states. Despite the fact that some micro-states, chiefly Ebla and Mari, exercised temporary control over many North Mesopotamian cities, the latter were not really incorporated into a regional state, which could have brought about longer lasting periods devoid of inter-city-state warfare. The Ebla texts also attest to the practice of raiding the livestock of enemy cities and destroying their agricultural fields as a means of warfare (Archi 2010: 16–17). It is not hard to imagine that such operations could have had catastrophic effects on the economy of an individual city-state, especially when considering that the economic base of many northern cities situated within or close to the so-called ‘zone of uncertainty’ were already structurally vulnerable due to fluctuations of the annual precipitation (Wilkinson et al. 2014). On a general level, it also appears quite likely that unevenly distributed yields in years with little rainfall constituted a major source of potential conflicts among neighbouring cities. Unsurprisingly, many of the earliest unambiguous depictions of warfare stem from the later 3rd millennium BCE. Elite art of the EBA (e.g. the Standard of Ebla) already covers the whole thematic breadth of gruesome imagery connected to warfare that reoccurs in the subsequent centuries. While these images and the changes in war technology provide indirect or ‘proxy information’ on the role of armed conflicts, there is also direct evidence in the form of destruction layers. Many destruction layers have been recorded at EBA sites across greater North Mesopotamia (Akkermans and Schwartz 2003: 268–269), including the aforementioned sites of Bazi (Otto 2006: 11–12) and Tell Chuera (Hempelmann 2013: 275). At Chuera, weapons and numerous burnt human skeletons were found in connection with a mid-3rd millennium BCE destruction layer, which is currently undergoing reinvestigation. The destructions attest to a catastrophic event that saw the civic-ceremonial zones of the upper town set ablaze and presumably also affected parts of the lower town (Helms 2017: 162). The scenario of an increase in violent confrontations during the EBA

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period might also gain support from the recent analysis of osteological data from Titriş Höyük (Erdal 2012). The analysis suggested that the frequency of perimortem cranial traumata – widely believed to be indicative of interpersonal violence – increased significantly from the mid to the late 3rd millennium BCE. If one follows A. Archi’s reading and interpretation of three cuneiform tablets found at Ebla, there is also textual evidence from which the destructive potential of later 3rd millennium BCE conflicts might be inferred (Archi 2010: 32–33). According to Archi, the documents list casualties suffered by Ebla and its allies in the course of several military campaigns. Given Archi’s understanding of the texts as administrative accounts covering their own losses, it appears extremely unlikely that they were meant to convey any kind of triumphalist message. The recorded losses in human life are, as Archi himself points out, “… almost unbelievable …”. For example, 3620 men are said to have perished in a single campaign against the city of Darašum. Another text provides an even higher number. The numbers imply that armed conflicts could have had grave effects on later EBA communities, even in terms of demography (Archi 2010: 32–33). While conflicts between local groups are often discussed in regards to their importance for state formation processes (e.g. Carneiro 1970), the evidence from greater North Mesopotamia summarized in this section provokes the question of whether endemic warfare might have been a destabilizing factor that contributed to the crisis of urbanism that marked the end of the 3rd millennium BCE. 2. The example of Tell Chuera Tell Chuera, a major EBA site of approximately 70ha, is located in the Western Jezirah (NE Syria) and belongs to a group of settlements characterized by a radial concentric layout (Meyer 2014). The Bronze Age site was founded around 3100–3000 BCE (local Period IA; Table 1). Around 2600 BCE (Period IB), Chuera experienced a phase of rapid urban growth. This process led to the formation of the lower town (Fig. 1). Chuera has often been described as a double-walled ‘citadel city’. While this is very much true for the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE, the defence works of the site reveal a quite complex building history on closer inspection. Given the fact that the fortifications of Chuera have been investigated in ten archaeological operations since the 1990s (Fig. 2; cf. Novák 1995; Meyer 2007; Meyer 2010; Falb 2010; Helms and Tamm 2014; Helms and Meyer 2016; Helms et al. 2017), the site provides an excellent opportunity for a diachronic study of the defence system of an EBA city-state. 2.1 The earliest fortification wall (Period IA) The earliest fortification wall of the site was discovered in Area H. The wall was c. 1.85m wide and rested upon a slightly wider foundation (Fig. 3). It can be dated to the very beginning of the local EBA sequence. The structure can best be described

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as a modest enclosure wall and attests to a certain degree of need for protection on the site of the early 3rd millennium BCE community; it furthermore proves that the settlement was already walled from the time of its foundation. A good comparison for such an early defensive wall has been excavated at the contemporaneous site of Kharab Sayyar, which is located just a few kilometres to the southeast of Chuera (Hempelmann 2008; Hempelmann 2013). At Kharab Sayyar, two different parts of an enclosure wall were exposed, which are clearly separated from each other by a vertical joint. The wall segments on each side of this joint differ in terms of the employed construction materials and techniques. Furthermore, the joint is nearly perfectly aligned with the border between two allotments and a doorway. The latter allowed one to close a small alley that followed the course of the fortification wall on its internal side. A plausible explanation of this finding has been proposed by the excavator of the site, R. Hempelmann, who argues that different groups, who lived side by side within the city, were each responsible for fortifying the part of the settlement they occupied. The early defence works excavated at the nearby sites of Kharab Sayyar and Chuera were most likely not built by specialist master builders. They should rather be understood as the outcome of a joint effort by townsfolk to secure their means of living. At some point between Period IA and IB, graves were dug into the earliest enclosure wall, signalling that it fell out of use. The dating of the graves is still a matter of discussion and holds important implications for the diachronic development of the fortifications, since an early date could indicate that the settlement was unfortified over a certain period of time (Ostheimer 2015). 2.2 The fortification of the lower town and the refortification of the upper town (Periods IB–IC) Towards the end of Period IB or at the beginning of Period IC, the fortifications of Chuera underwent a major transformation: the lower town was established (Meyer 2010). In demographic terms, the rapid growth of the settlement can only be explained with a sudden influx of population from the site’s hinterland or beyond. It is well possible that the expansion of the site was caused by tensions between local groups within the wider region so that some of these groups opted to move to a larger settlement in search of protection. It is notable that the lower town was immediately surrounded with an up to 5.5m wide fortification wall. At least parts of the outer defensive wall were further strengthened by a small pre-wall. Most likely, it already featured a defensive ditch (Weicken and Wener 1995). Not only were the outer fortifications more substantial than the earliest fortification of the site, they were also more complex as they combined an enceinte with additional defensive features (ditch, pre-wall). The central mound, too, was refortified in Period IC at the latest – this time by an up to 6 m wide, solid mud brick wall. Already before 2500 BCE, the site had been transformed from a settlement protected by a simple enclosure wall into a double-walled city. The geomagnetic map of the site allows the identification of a minimum of eight openings in the outer circumvallation and at least six passages that

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led through the inner fortification (Fig. 1). Not all of these gaps represent accessible passages, though. Some probably functioned as small gates, others served as ‘water gates’ through which excessive rain water could be let out of the city. An example of such construction has been excavated in the southern extent of the lower town (Area U; Meyer 2010). The problem of waste water management also affected the construction of the main gate to the upper city. Excavations in Area HMS revealed that the mid-3rd millennium BCE gate – a chamber gate that rested on a massive stone foundation – featured an elaborate subterranean drain (Fig. 4). 2.3 The urban defence works of the later 3rd millennium BCE (Period ID) During the 25th century BCE, Chuera was affected by a devastating, violent event (local Period IC, see above). Soon after, during the subsequent Period ID, the outer fortifications of the site were reinforced on a massive scale. Some segments of the outer city wall were even partly demolished and completely rebuilt. The most significant modification was the construction of sloped earthen ramparts in front of the outer circumvallation (Fig. 5). The defensive assemblage attested for Chuera during Period ID was clearly designed to offer protection in the case of inter-city-state warfare. Further defensive elements verified for the Period ID fortifications include the use of rectangular bastions (Fig. 6), complex gates, wall-walks and pre-walls (Fig. 7). The inner and outer fortification walls themselves were constructed by linking protruding and recessing wall segments (archaeologically attested in Area H and W). Strictly speaking, the circular city was surrounded by polygonal defence works. Survey work carried out in the vicinity of the tell furthermore yielded evidence for the existence of small building structures on hilltops located just in sight of the settlement (Helms and Meyer 2016). These structures can most likely be interpreted as remains of watchtowers, which constituted a regional defence system. Consequently, the Period ID settlement was characterized by a three-tiered defence system that consisted of the inner and outer circumvallation and outlying watchtowers. While this system must be understood as the outcome of an overall and carefully laid out defence plan for the city-state, there is archaeological evidence that the reinforcement of the fortifications also included decentralized decision making processes. This is indicated by observations made in connection with the exploration of the outer defence works in the southeastern part of Chuera’s lower town, Area W, where a long section of the city wall was exposed (Fig. 6). The recorded defensive elements are contemporaneous, but the constructional assemblage is less homogenous than it might appear at first glance and it is evident that different construction techniques and materials were used. In the following discussion, I will refer to the most striking example: in the southern extent of excavation Area W-4 (Fig. 8), the Period ID fortification wall was built with orderly laid, brownish mud bricks. It was placed on top of an earthen rampart, which, in this particular area, superimposed an earlier city wall that had been delib-

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erately razed in advance. The brickwork of the city wall bonded with that of a solid rectangular bastion. About 15m to the north of the bastion, a vertical wall-joint was observed leading almost through the entire width of the wall. To the north of the joint, the fortification wall was constructed by employing different materials and a completely different construction technique: here, orange and grey bricks were used. In sharp contrast to the wall section south of the joint, only the face of the wall consisted of orderly laid bricks, while the core featured irregular brickwork including many half-bricks. A bastion protruding from this part of the city wall was constructed in a similar fashion. It is also much smaller compared to the bastion mentioned before. The findings clearly suggest the existence of two contemporary wall sections, which differ remarkably in terms of construction methods and materials. Further to the north, the composition of the outer city wall changes again: here it was built from regular brickwork. This part of the fortification wall also lacked protruding defensive platforms, which clearly indicates that Chuera’s outer defences were not equipped with evenly spaced bastions. Here and elsewhere along the outer enceinte, compartments filled with debris and earth were embedded in the structure of the city wall (Fig. 9). The situation just described echoes the findings from the nearby site of Kharab Sayyar, which of course have been dated to a much earlier phase of the EBA (see above). At Chuera, we are again dealing with defensive walls constructed from adjoining, but structurally very different modules. The most straightforward explanation for the modular way of fortifying Chuera would be that different work crews were responsible for constructing the abutting wall sections. The structural inconsistencies might therefore simply have resulted from a combination of an opportunistic use of building materials and on-the-ground decisions of individual work crews. Yet, stratigraphic observations might suggest an alternative explanation. A trench laid out across the fortification wall and the adjacent building structures of the lower town revealed a close relationship between a residential area behind the wall and the urban defence system. There is stratigraphic proof that a large house, House 5 (Fig. 6), was built at the same time as the Period ID city wall (Helms et al. 2017: 323). The back wall of House 5 was placed on the stub of the earlier, Period IC fortification, which had been deliberately truncated. Mud bricks and brick fragments from this earlier city wall were reused to construct the upper layers of a mighty defensive rampart, which was subsequently crowned with a new fortification wall. Interestingly, the rampart was not only built against the old city wall, but also against the rear wall of House 5. The reinforcement of Chuera’s outer defences therefore occurred simultaneously with the reorganization of the urban space associated with it. It seems conceivable that the people who built and lived in House 5 were also involved in the construction and maintenance of this particular part of the city wall. The building was directly located behind the large bastion. It seems reasonable to assume that the defensive platform was accessed from here, as one of the house’s rooms was partly embedded in the defensive platform. While House 5 corresponds to the typical floor plan of residential houses at Chuera, it is also very large. It covered at least 300m² and is therefore one of the largest houses excavated at Chuera so far. The courtyard of the house yielded evidence for a

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large potter’s workshop (Tamm 2017: 211–212). Given its exceptional size, House 5 probably attests to a prosperous household who could have been in charge of maintaining the large bastion and the stretch of wall that abutted their house. Decentralized aspects also become apparent when looking at the way Chuera’s fortifications were maintained. In some areas of the upper and the lower town, eroded parts of the Period ID fortification wall were repaired according to a variety of technological solutions, some of which appear very ad hoc and rather improvised. Moreover, the inhabitants of Chuera used the defensive walls for all kinds of non-defensive purposes. Building structures spread over the glacis of the inner defences, for example, while the outer city wall was used as a dump site. Soon after the extended refurbishments of the Period ID outer city wall, the newly erected earthen rampart was covered with urban waste. As P. Mielke (2011: 80–81) has pointed out, the course of a fortification wall formed the ‘physical face’ of the ancient city; in the case of Chuera we are apparently dealing with a dirty face. Looming over the plains of the Western Jezirah, the outer fortifications rose from a corona of urban waste. Approaching the main city gate, one would have been confronted with a messy, yet not necessarily less efficient, assemblage of defensive elements, each of them characterized by a different state of repair and/or disrepair. Bastions of varying size rose from a fortification composed of recessing and protruding elements, which varied as well in terms of width as in terms of constructional details. 3. Conclusions The excavation data from Chuera provides an example of how an early urban community modified its defence system over nearly a millennium in response to changes in warfare and urban growth. The early enclosure walls investigated at Chuera and the neighbouring site of Kharab Sayyar (Period IA) prove that the EBA fortification tradition in the Western Jezirah started as early as in the Middle Euphrates valley (compare Peltenburg 2013). The initial fortification of Chuera represented a straightforward way of creating defensible space and controlling the access to the settlement. Profound changes occurred towards the end of Period IB (or in Period IC) when the newly established lower town was surrounded with a more massive fortification wall, a transition that might indicate a change in the scale of conflicts that the urban populace expected to be embroiled in. The complexity of the urban defence systems increased in the second half of the 3rd millennium BCE (Period ID), when the fortifications were again reinforced and came to include new defensive elements. Observations made in connection with the analysis of the fortifications of the Chuera region also suggest how communality of defence might have been organized within an EBA city-state on the North Mesopotamian plains. The data from the neighbouring sites of Chuera and Kharab Sayyar suggests a mode of organizing construction work that – at least to some extent – relied on decision making processes of corporate groups who lived within the city walls; whether these were neighbourhood organiza-

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tions or segmentary groups, remains, of course, a matter of debate. The interpretation of the findings from the Chuera region might also offer an explanation for inconsistencies (changes regarding the alignment of fortification walls, differences in construction techniques and employed building materials) recorded in connection with other sites, e.g. the aforementioned site of Rad Shaqra. That the defence of EBA cities also relied on politically decentralized aspects has already been proposed by L. Cooper in connection with her treatise on urban defence works in the Middle Euphrates valley (Cooper 2006: 77–78, 87–88). As powerful as the paramount political institutions of the city-state, especially the palace, might have been during the later 3rd millennium BCE, they certainly did not organize or permeate every aspect of daily life within the city. Corporate groups were also actively engaged in shaping the urban environment, including its defence infrastructure. Acknowledgements I thank the members of the Chuera project, Jan-Waalke Meyer (excavation director) and Alexander Tamm in particular, for discussing aspects of this paper. I also would like to thank Henrike Backhaus and Caitlin Chaves Yates for their helpful comments. All illustrations used in this article are property of the Chuera project. Access to and use of the illustrations has been kindly granted by the excavation director, J.-W. Meyer (Frankfurt am Main). Bibliography Akkermans, P. M. M. G. and Schwartz, G. M. 2003 The Archaeology of Syria. From Complex Hunter-gatherers to Early Urban Societies (c. 16,000–300 BC). Cambridge. Archi, A. 2010 Men at War in the Ebla Period. In: A. Kleinerman and J. M. Sasson (eds.), Why Should Someone Who Knows Something Conceal It? Cuneiform Studies in Honor of David I. Owen on his 70th Birthday. Bethesda, 15–35. Backer, F. de 2009 Evolution of War Chariot Tactics in the Ancient Near East. Ugarit-Forschungen 41, 2–17. Bernbeck, R. 2004 Gesellschaft und Technologie im frühgeschichtlichen Mesopotamien. In: M. Fansa and S. Burmeister (eds.), Rad und Wagen: der Ursprung einer Innovation: Wagen im Vorderen Orient und Europa: eine Ausstellung des Landesmuseums für Natur und Mensch Oldenburg März– Juni 2004. Oldenburg, 49–68. Bieliński, P. 1992 The First Campaign of Excavations on Tell Rad Shaqrah (Hasake Southern Dam Basin). Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 3, 77–85.

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BCE (approx.) 3100–2850

Chuera Period IA

EJ 0–1

Development of the urban defense system Construction of earliest fortification wall;

Archaeologically attested defensive elements Enceinte

Between period IA or IB: graves are dug into the enclosure wall (exact date still forms a matter of discussion)

Supposed function of the defenses Access control; protection against raids and attacks by other local groups







Foundation and fortification of the lower town




Fortification of the upper town attested (Chuera = double walled city)




Massive reinforcement of the out- Enceintes, preliminary lines of deer fortifications, possibly outlying fense (pre-wall, moat, wall-walks), watchtowers irregularly spaced firing platforms (rectangular bastions of different size), complex gates, “water gates”, sloped earthen ramparts




Neglect and decay of the defense works in the wake of the gradual abandonment of the settlement and the dissolution of its central institutions

Enceintes, preliminary lines of defense (pre-wall, moat)

Access control; protection of a larger urban population; stronger fortification could suggest higher threat level (inter-citystate warfare?); double fortification walls facilitate control of traffic between upper and lower town Access control between intra- and extramural space and between upper and lower town; protection against siege-tactics in the context of inter-city-state warfare

Table 1 Simplified chronological and preliminary assessment of the development and function of the urban defence system of Chuera (based on Hempelmann 2013; Tamm 2017; Helms and Tamm 2017)

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Fig. 1 Geomagnetic plan with reconstructed course of the inner and outer city wall and reconstructed location of passages into the lower town (US) and upper town (OS)

Fig. 2 Location of excavation areas at Tell Chuera; operations in which parts of the fortifications were uncovered are marked with white squares

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Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE


Fig. 3 Period IA fortification wall in Area H; view in northeastern direction

Fig. 4 Section through the mid 3rd millennium BCE gateway in Area HMS that connected the lower and upper town; view in eastern direction; the covered sewer is approximately 1.6m high

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Fig. 5 Part of the outer city wall and the adjoining sloped rampart in Area W-4; the rampart consists of a layered fill and was covered with a glacis of beaten clay; view in western direction

Fig. 6 Schematic plan of excavation Area which shows the Period ID-fortifications and contemporary building structures of the lower town; the nos. of (partially) excavated structures, including House 5, are indicated by white circles, the nos. of structures that have been reconstructed on the basis of the geomagnetic survey appear in black circles

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Fortress Communities of the 3rd Millennium BCE


Fig. 7 Part of the outer city wall in Area W-4 with a preliminary wall-walk and pre-wall; view in eastern direction

Fig. 8 Part of the outer city wall in Area W-4; two differently constructed segments of the fortification wall

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Fig. 9 Compartment within the fortification wall (Area W-6), which was filled in with gravel and loam

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