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Tell Jerablus Tahtani, Syria, I

The Great Bend of the Euphrates River in North Syria and Southeast Anatolia was a strategic nexus of communications between different parts of the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. In spite of its potential for inter-regional studies, the area was largely neglected in the 20th century following the pioneering investigations of Sir Leonard Woolley, T. E. Lawrence and others at the historically renowned city of Carchemish. Modern dam-building near the city led to the excavation of threatened sites and these have revealed a much more complex picture in which, rather than simply a conduit for inter-regional networks, the bend attracted a unique concentration of varied communities from Neolithic times onwards. Jerablus Tahtani, a multi-period tell site beside Carchemish, was excavated by a team from the University of Edinburgh from 1992 to 2004 within the framework of the international Tishrin Dam Salvage programme. Results shed new light on the Uruk expansion in the 4th millennium BC, extraordinary Euphrates flood episodes in the 3rd millennium BC, the `second urban revolution' in Early Bronze Age Syria and prehistoric developments at neighbouring Carchemish. This volume, the first major report on the site, deals with stratified mortuary evidence found at a Bronze Age fort that was built over the destroyed remains of an early 3rd millennium village. Most of the 70 graves belong to the time when Ebla claimed supremacy of the area. They are considered in terms of the role of burials in site abandonment processes. Special attention is given to a monumental tomb incongruously located at the entrance to this small fort. Its creation and life history are evaluated in the context of other highly conspicuous mortuary facilities in the region-monuments that served as places of social memory and vehicles for structuring a distinctive regional political trajectory within the Bronze Age of the Ancient Near East.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix List of Tables xii List of Plates xiv Abbreviations xvii 1. Introduction (Edgar Peltenburg) 1 1.1 B ackground 1 1.2 The Jerablus plain 2 1.3 Previous notices and investigations of the site 4 1.4 The site 5 1.5 R esearch issues 6 1.6 Excavation and recording 6 1.7 Deposition of material 9 1.8 Layout of the volume 9 1.9 A cknowledgments 10 2. The regional setting of Jerablus Tahtani (T. J. Wilkinson and Katleen Deckers) 13 2.1 Tell Jerablus Tahtani in context 13 2.2 Vegetation in the Jerablus environment during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age: evidence of charcoal 20 3. Chronology (Edgar Peltenburg and Derek Hamilton) 24 3.1 S ummary of site periods 24 3.2 R adiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling at Jerablus 27 3.3 C ommentary: Bayesian modelling and ceramics 30 4. The mortuary facilities and their contents (Edgar Peltenburg, Diane Bolger, Stuart Campbell, Adam Jackson, Dorothy A. Lunt, Zissis Parras, Graham Philip, Paola Sconzo and Marie E. Watt) 37 4.1 I ntroduction 37 4.2 G eneral location and relative chronology of Period IIB graves 37 4.3 Period II grave typology 39 4.4 Period III grave typology 44 4.5 The catalogue 44 4.6 Period IB grave 44 4.7 Period IIB Tomb 302 45 4.7.1 Main Chamber - Tomb Phases 1-4 46 4.7.2 A nnex - Tomb Phase 1 62 4.7.3 Entrance - Tomb Phase 1 63 4.7.4 Walls - Tomb Phase 1 64 4.7.5 Mound - Tomb Phase 1 65 4.7.6 G eneral and unstratified 67 4.8 Period II graves 67 4.9 A n Early Bronze Age tomb group from Tell Alawiyeh in the British Museum 90 4.10 Period III graves 95 Contents vi 4.11 Period V graves 96 4.12 A dditional human remains 96 5. The mortuary population (Dorothy A. Lunt, Zissis Parras, Catriona Pickard and Marie E. Watt) 98 5.1 The human dentitions 98 5.2 The human remains 104 5.3 S table isotope analysis of human and animal remains 115 6. Pottery of the Early Bronze and Uruk periods - summary (Diane Bolger and Edgar Peltenburg) 118 6.1 Early Bronze Age vessel types from mortuary contexts 118 6.2 Pottery of the Uruk period 118 7. Metalwork from mortuary contexts at Jerablus (Graham Philip) 127 7.1 Weapons 127 7.2 O rnaments 130 7.3 Tools 136 7.4 Manufacture, metallurgy and technology 136 7.5 O verall patterns 139 7.6 C onclusions 140 7.7 A ppendix. Metal objects from Iron Age graves 141 8. Metals from Early Bronze Age burial assemblages collected between 1911 and 1920 by D. G. Hogarth, C . L. Woolley and T. E. Lawrence in the Central Euphrates and Sajur River regions of Syria (Peter Northover and Kay Prag) 143 8.1 I ntroduction 143 8.2 The regional extent of the collection 144 8.3 The security of the provenances 144 8.4 The geographical contexts of analysed materials 145 8.5 C atalogue 151 8.6 Typology and dating evidence for validity of groups 158 8.7 S ome conclusions to sections 8.1-6 163 8.8 A nalysis of metalwork in the Woolley Collection, Ashmolean Museum 164 9. Other objects, including personal ornaments and figurines (Kathy Eremin, Adam Jackson, Carole McCartney, Edgar Peltenburg and Andrew Shortland) 172 9.1 Personal ornaments 172 9.1.1 B eads 173 9.1.2 Pendants 177 9.1.3 N ecklaces 179 9.1.4 B ead string attached to pin 180 9.1.5 Pins 181 9.1.6 C onclusions 181 9.2 Third millennium beads: analyses 182 9.3 G old 189 9.4 I vory 189 9.5 C lay figurines 190 9.5.1 A nthropomorphs 190 9.5.2 Z oomorphs 191 9.6 Miscellaneous clay objects 192 9.6.1 Model wheels 192 9.6.2 Tiles 192 9.6.3 Modified sherd 193 9.6.4 U nbaked clay device 193 9.7 B one objects 193 9.7.1 I ncised tubes 193 9.7.2 Pin/needle 194 9.8 S hell objects 194 vii 9.8.1 I nlay or pendant 194 9.8.2 Eggshells 194 9.9 G round stone artefacts from funerary contexts 195 9.9.1 Typology 195 9.9.2 Discussion 196 9.10 Miscellaneous objects 197 9.11 N ote on chipped stone from funerary contexts 198 9.11.1 The samples 198 9.11.2 Discussion of context 198 9.12 Period III bone pin 199 10. A nimal remains (Paul Croft) 201 10.1 Tomb 302 animal remains 201 10.2 A nimal remains from the graves 209 11. The charred plant remains from Tomb 302 (Sue Colledge and Chris Stevens) 211 11.1 I ntroduction 211 11.2 C harred plant materials in the Tomb 302 samples 211 11.3 C rops 216 11.4 Wild taxa 217 11.5 Dung, parenchymatous tissue 218 11.6 S ummary of samples 219 11.7 Early Bronze Age crops 219 12. Mollusca (Janet Ridout-Sharpe) 221 12.1 I ntroduction 221 12.2 Molluscan samples 221 12.3 Molluscan small finds 222 12.4 Discussion and conclusions 224 13. Jerablus mortuary practices in their local and regional contexts (Edgar Peltenburg) 225 13.1 A late 4th millennium BC secondary burial of Period IB 225 13.2 G eneral characteristics of the Period IIB burials 228 13.3 C hildren at Early Bronze Age Jerablus 232 13.4 Possible evidence for secondary treatments in Period IIB 232 13.5 Mortuary practices and site abandonment processes in the later 3rd millennium BC 233 13.6 Tomb 302: introduction 236 13.7 Tomb 302 Phase 1A: the invention of a tradition 236 13.8 Tomb 302 Phases 1B-D: funerary rites 244 13.9 Tomb 302 Phase 1E-2: desecration and abandonment 246 13.10 Tomb 302 Phase 3: re-visiting the ancestors 248 13.11 Tomb 302 and developments of the mortuary domain in pathways to power 252 13.12 The persistence of an invented tradition? 254 13.13 The Late Iron Age graves of Period III 256 Appendix 1. Plate and page references for Jerablus mortuary facilities 257 Appendix 2. C oncordance of registered small find numbers and grave catalogue numbers 259 Appendix 3. S ummary of Tomb 302 units 266 Appendix 4. S herd join analysis from all components of Tomb 302 269 Bibliography 272 Plates 292 Arabic Summary 372

About the Author

Edgar Peltenburg is Emeritus Professor in Archaeology at Edinburgh University. His research interests include small-scale society dynamics, archaic states and early technology, especially vitreous materials and he has undertaken extensive fieldwork in Canada, the Middle East and Cyprus where he is director of the Lemba Archaeological Research Centre.


A most welcome contribution in the field of funerary archaeology in the Euphrates Valley. * Paleorient * This monograph represents a stellar example of how archaeological reports should be constructed. * Antiquity *

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