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Tall al-Hamidiya 2.

The first volume of this work was reviewed in JAOS 108 (1988): 304-6, where brief information was given on the location and character of the site and on the organization and purpose of the archaeological expedition. The present volume is as attractively produced and as rich in contents as the previous one, and it is similarly divided into two parts.

The first part, preceded by a preface and an introduction, is entitled "Symposion: Recent Excavations in the Upper Khabur Region, Berne, December 9-11, 1986." It consists of twelve papers, all of them in English, which have lost nothing of their interest because of the delay in publication. As stated in the introduction, they were "enriched with the fruits of the informal discussions," and at least some of them were revised and augmented for publication. Adnan Bounni reported on "The Khabur and Haseke Dam Projects and the Protection of Threatened Antiquities in the Region." Diederik J. W. Meijer's "An Archaeological Surface Survey: Some Assumptions and Ideas" summarizes and supplements his detailed report, A Survey in Northeastern Syria (1986), reviewed in JAOS 109 (1989): 506-8. Of course, his survey covers only a wedge of north Mesopotamian territory south of Syria's border with Turkey and east of the Gaggag River, but it includes some of the largest mounds of the entire region, four of which--Leilan, Hamidi, Barri, and (on the other bank of the river) Brak--are currently being excavated. These, together with Farfara, Sarisi, and Id, are considered by Meijer from the point of view of their spatial relationship as reflecting the integration of the area, mainly in the Middle Bronze Age.

Paolo Emilio Pecorella reported on "The Italian Excavations at Tell Barri (Kahat), 1980-1985." The paper is well supplied with plans, profiles, crosscuts, and a stratigraphic scheme of the site's occupational sequence, "based," in the author's words, "on the data of the excavations as well as textual data and the pottery." This brings to mind a problem that is not limited to Tell Barri. Its occupancy in the Neo-Assyrian period is attested by the mention of Kahat in several records of that time, including an inscription of Tukulti-Ninurta II found in situ. But neither the survey of Tell Barri by Meijer nor its excavation by Pecorella found there any sherds of what is called Iron Age pottery (a broad term which encompasses everything produced during the almost thousand years between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the Hellenistic period). In the zone surveyed by Meijer, only 23 sites out of over 250 explored showed a presence of Iron Age pottery. Of these 23, three (the tells Farfara, al-Hadi, and Rumeylan) are large mounds; four have an area from 4 to 6 hectares; the rest are small or minuscule; none is medium size. This creates a very lopsided picture of the population pattern in northeastern Mesopotamia of the Neo-Assyrian period. It is known from a late ninth-century eponym stele (RLA 2:439, no. 41) that four Assyrian districts existed on or near the Gaggag: Nasibina, Urakka, Kahat, and Masaka (from which the Gaggag received its Syriac name Masak, cf. E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of Governors, 1:cxxv). The role of administrative centers is confirmed for all of them but Masaka by subsequent Neo-Assyrian documents. The preserved part of the tablet ND 2618 (B. Parker, Iraq 23 |1961~: 37-38, pl. XIX) enumerates sixteen towns (URU) and two rural estates (URU.SE) in only one district; its name has been lost, but it must have been that of Kahat, which is listed among its towns. Moreover, ADD 950--a list of sakintu, manageresses of local palace harems (cf. CAD S, 1:166)--includes, after uruKa-hat, two cities known from the Mari texts: uruSu-ne-e = Mari Su-na-| and uruTup-ha-an = Mari Tup-ha-|, both located on, or very near, the Gaggag (the former according to its position in the Old Babylonian Urbana-Yale Itinerary, the latter by its association with the land of Azuhinum). The same discrepancy between inscriptional and ceramic data for the Iron Age exists all over north Mesopotamia.

To bring one other example, let us turn to the Balih valley. M. E. L. Mallowan, who surveyed five mounds of the upper Balih basin in 1938, found no Iron Age pottery on any of them (Iraq 8 |1946~: 111-59, pl. XXIV-XXVIII). However, Shalmaneser III, in 853 B.C., annexed to the Assyrian Empire a state he designated "cities of Giammu on the Balih River." Two of these cities, uruSah-la-la and uruTil-(sa-)Tur-a-hi, he mentioned by name; they contained palaces with rich furnishings and a treasury (ARAB I, 563, 610, 646). The former site has retained its name from the Middle Bronze Age (Si-ih-la-| ARM X, 178:9) to the time of Shalmaneser III, the Roman period (Sahal in the appropriate point of the Peutinger Table), the Mamluk rule (Sihlan), and the present (the large Tell Sahlan, one of the mounds surveyed by Mallowan). Such toponymic persistence implies some degree of continuous occupation. The same, for a shorter span of time, can be deduced for the other of Giammu's cities (which may correspond to Tell Barabira, only slightly smaller than Tell Sahlan, ca. 8 km to the southwest of it). It has been widely assumed in biblical studies, following Emil G. H. Kraeling's note "Terach," ZAW 40 (1922): 153-54, that the name of Terah in the priestly genealogy of Abraham was formed out of the toponym Til-(sa-)Turahi; but this means that the town still existed under the same or slightly modified name in the late Persian period when the Priestly Code was composed at the earliest. Then it appears on the Peutinger Table as the road station Tharrana (cf. LXX Tharra for Terah), in a position that closely corresponds to that of Tell Barabira. Moreover, the seventh-century B.C. Harran Census (published by C. H. W. Johns, An Assyrian Doomsday Book, 1901, and more recently in F. M. Fales, Censimenti e catasti di epoca neo-assira, 1973) attests that the city Balihu, already mentioned under the same name in Old Assyrian business tablets (BIN VI 176:5; ICK II 277:6) and as Apqu(m) sa Baliha "the source of the Balih" in the Urbana-Yale Itinerary (A. Goetze, "An Old Babylonian Itinerary," JCS 7 |1953~: 54, 61; W. W. Hallo, "The Road to Emar," JCS 18 |1964~: 64, 77-78), was the center of a district which included at least three more towns. Thus, despite the absence of Iron Age pottery, several towns of the upper Balih basin were inhabited both before and after the Neo-Assyrian takeover of the area.

What about places further down the river? In 1986 J. M. Cordoba surveyed twenty-five mounds on the Balih and its tributaries from the Turkish border to its confluence with the Euphrates and summarized his findings in "Prospeccion en la valle de rio Balih (Siria): Informe provisional," Aula Orientalia 5 (1988): 149-88. He came to the conclusion that the Balih valley "and other regions in the north of Syria" were virtually depopulated after the end of Late Bronze II and remained so till the Roman period. The only material of the intermediate period he was able to identify was a fragment of an Iron Age I bowl, to which he added some "scant remains" found by M. van Loon on a satellite site of Tell Hammam et-Turkman. But in 1983, three years before Cordoba's survey, P. Garelli reported to the |30.sup.e~ Recontre Assyriologique Internationale at Leiden on "Les archives inedites d'un centre provincial de l'empire assyrien," published in Cuneiform Archives and Libraries, ed. K. R. Veenhof (1986), 241-46. They consisted of twenty-four tablets in Aramaic and thirty-nine in Akkadian, with dates stretching from the reign of Sennacherib to that of Sin-sar-iskun, and coming from a hitherto unknown district center of the vast Neo-Assyrian province of Harran, called Ma-al-(la-)na-te, in Akkadian, and Mlnh, in Aramaic. D. Charpin, N.A.B.U. 1987: 38, identified it with Ma-al-la-| in the Mari tablet A.2560 (published by D. Charpin and J.-M. Durand in RA 80 |1986~: 180-82). It stood on the southern border of the district of Subat-Samas in the upper Balih valley: everything downstream of it belonged to the district of Tuttul. Since Zalpah, almost certainly identical with Tell Hammam et-Turkman, was already under the jurisdiction of Tuttul, Mallanum/Mallanate must have stood somewhat north of its latitude. We are dealing here again with a case of survival up to the end of the Neo-Assyrian period of a Middle Bronze city (which may have existed even much earlier, for a Ma-a-la-| is mentioned in an Ebla tablet, cf. A. Archi, SEb VII |1984~: 53 4). In addition to Mallanate, the seventh-century tablets mention by name ten more towns or villages where land, slaves, and barley were bought and sold and loans of silver or barley were contracted. So these were not some nomad encampments but regular agricultural settlements, organized into a normal administrative district. Their inhabitants cooked in pots, stored their beer in jars, ate out of bowls, drank out of cups--where, then, are the sherds of their pottery? D. Meijer (op. cit., 33, 6.3.3) admitted that "another notable problem is our lack of information regarding ceramics of the Iron Age." However, P. Pfalzner, in his survey of the Wadi Agig area east of the lower Habur valley, was able to recognize that "an abrupt increase of settlements can be ascertained for the Neo-Assyrian time. Pottery of the eighth/seventh century was found in 31 sites" (AfO 31 |1984~: 183). Perhaps the unexpected ceramic inventory of a large ninth-century B.C. building at Tell Hamidi may shed new light on the elusive Iron Age pottery of north Mesopotamia.

To return to Pecorella's report: the area of Tell Barri turned to be larger than estimated by Meijer (20 ha) or Weiss (23 ha); it has now been extended to about 34 ha. At the time of the Berne symposium, the excavations have reached the levels of the Middle Assyrian and the immediately preceding Mitannian periods, but no important public buildings and no inscriptions have been found.

"A Contribution to the Geography and History of the Kingdom of Kahat" by Dominique Charpin is a most valuable collection of texts and passages from published and unpublished Mari letters that are relevant to Kahat, presented with commentaries and explanations by a scholar with first-hand knowledge of the texts. Among Charpin's elucidations of the inscriptional material one should note in particular his ingenious interpretation of the tablet A.315, which removes one alleged town of the Kahat area, straightens out a supposed inexact duplication, and establishes the correct names of the three actual towns. It is, however, difficult to agree with Charpin's proposal to locate one of these towns, either Kabittum or Kallahubra, "at Tell Mohammed Kebir, about ten km to the North of Tell Hamidi on the Upper Jaghjagh (or about 20 km North of Kahat)." The fact that Tell Hamidi, a much larger Middle Bronze city than Tell Barri (47 ha as compared to 34 ha), stands between Tell Barri and Tell Mohammed Kebir, excludes the possibility that the latter site could have belonged to the land of Kahat. Besides, the sequential position of Suna in the Urbana-Yale Itinerary makes it very probable that it corresponds to Tell Mohammed Kebir.

Giorgio Buccellati's "'River Bank,' 'High Country,' and 'Pasture Land': The Growth of Nomadism on the Middle Euphrates and the Khabur" is, according to the author's note, the second in a series of six articles on the history and geography of the kingdom of Hana, some of which have already been published. It explores and clarifies the interrelation between the physical and human geography of the region.

Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati's report on "Three Seasons of Excavation at Tell Mozan" follows up the preliminary report by G. Buccellati and M. Kelly-Buccellati, "Mozan 1: The Soundings of the First Two Seasons" (Bibl. Mesopotamica, vol. 20 |1988~). The importance of Tell Mozan lies not only in its imposing size and outstanding location but also in the possibility, or rather high probability, supported by the Urbana-Yale Itinerary, that it corresponds to the Early and Middle Bronze royal city of Urkis, especially famous by the dedicatory inscriptions of its two Hurrian kings from the Old Akkadian period published several decades ago. No epigraphic material has been found so far at the Tell Mozan excavation, but it revealed ruins of a temple, interesting cylinder seals, and an instructive ceramic sequence.

Joan Oates' "Tell Brak in the Fourth and Third Millennia: From Uruk to Ur III" deals with another major urban center of the Habur Triangle. Unlike Tell Mozan, the huge Tell Brak has already been excavated in the 'thirties by M. Mallowan and has been excavated since 1976 by David and Joan Oates; and both series of campaigns have uncovered tablets from the Sargonic and, in the latter series, also of the Mitannian, periods--not numerous but of prime importance for the historical geography of the Habur Triangle. While Joan Oates reported on the early phases of the mound, David Oates' paper deals with "Tell Brak: The Mitanni Palace and Temple." Unfortunately, the discovered texts have failed to disclose the ancient name of Tell Brak, and this leads to the controversial problem of locating Taidi, which recurs in several contributions to both volumes of Tall al-Hamidiya.

The search for Taidi has long been obscured by its equation with Tidu/Tedu near the upper Tigris. It is now generally admitted that Taidi, one of the capitals of Hurri-Mitanni, was situated in the eastern part of the Habur Triangle. David Oates promotes the candidacy of Tell Brak, while the Tell Hamidi team does the same for the object of their excavations. Which site has the better claim? It is known from Adad-narari I's inscriptions that after conquering Taidi he razed its dilapidated palace and built a new one on its site. But at Tell Brak, according to D. Oates, the Mitannian palace was burned to the ground and was not replaced by a new building. D. Oates ascribed the final destruction of Tell Brak to Shalmaneser I, but it may have happened earlier; N. J. J. Illingworth, Iraq 50 (1988): 105, put it "in or after the time of Tusratta." In any case, Taidi continued as an inhabited city under Tukulti-Ninurta I and remained an Assyrian provincial capital as late as the reign of Tiglath-pileser I (see, e.g., H. Freydank, MARV II 21:9). Thus Tell Brak could not have been Taidi. At Tell Hamidi, on the other hand, excavations reported in the reviewed volume, pp. 241-58, disclosed a Mitannian palace, which was rebuilt in the Middle Assyrian period and yielded fragments of royal steles with remains of the names of Shalmaneser I and Tukulti-Ninurta I. This makes Tell Hamidi a possible site of Taidi, but not the definitive one, for other identifications may be proposed for Tell Hamidi, and other large mounds east of the Gaggag may be envisaged for the location of Taidi.

The short paper, "Third Millenium Urbanization: A Perspective from Tell Leilan," by Harvey Weiss, centers on the problem of chronology. As stated by the author, "A wide range of radiocarbon dates from the late Uruk colonies or their dependencies in Turkey, Syria and Iran suggests that the late Uruk expansion occurred during the period 3500-3300 B.C." Hitherto, the late Uruk period was dated two to three centuries later, which seemed to tally with the place of Uruk imports and influence in late predynastic Egypt. An upward revision of Near eastern chronology of such dimensions will have to solve many concomitant questions.

Robert M. Whiting provided an extensive paper on "Tell Leilan/Subat-Enlil: Chronological Problems and Perspectives." The primary goal of the study was to integrate the Assyrian eponyms whose names are recorded in tablets found at Tell Leilan (on which Whiting reported in AJA 94 |1990~: 568-79) with those of the same historical period (basically, the reign of Samsi-Adad I) known from other sources and investigated by K. Veenhof, M. Birot, D. Charpin, and J.-M. Durand in papers delivered at the Strasbourg Mari Colloquium in 1983 and published in MARI 4 (1985). Whiting's painstaking, step-by-step processing of the evidence resulted in a sequential chart of eponyms for all of Samsi-Adad I's fifty-seven regnal years (a figure previously established by Birot) and of the historical events associated with some of them. Admittedly, the exact chronological order of the eponym is assured only for the beginning of the list (nos. 1-21) and its end (nos. 43-57), while the arrangement in the middle part (nos. 22-42) is based on "working assumptions."

The concluding paper of the symposium is Markus Wafler's brief but informative report on "The Excavations at Tell Hamidi," with an "Addendum 1988." The diggings made considerable progress since the first campaign reported in the first volume. A Mittanian palace, rebuilt in the Middle Assyrian, and again partially in the Neo-Assyrian time, was unearthed in the citadel. In 1988, another very large building was discovered at the southwest tongue projecting from the citadel. Its earlier phase belonged to the Mitannian-Neo-Assyrian period and was destroyed by fire; immediately above was constructed a new building of comparable size. Both the palace and the southwestern edifice were used in the ninth century. This indicates that Tell Hamidi continued as a provincial center from the Mitannian period till at least the time of Shalmaneser III. Among the very few epigraphic finds are fragments of stone slabs and bricks with restorable names of the Middle Assyrian kings Shalmaneser I, Tukulti-Ninurta I, and Assur-dan I (B.C. 1178-1133), and of the ninth century kings Tukulti-Ninurta II and either Assurnasirpal II or Shalmaneser III (according to K. Deller's section on cuneiform texts in the second part of the volume, 4.6). The Neo-Assyrian southwestern building revealed something of potentially great importance for the archeology of north Mesopotamia: as stated by the excavators (p. 309,, "if our suppositions about the findings spot of |the two Neo-Assyrian fragmentary inscriptions~ are right, the latter building should be dated in the ninth century, with consequences that cannot yet be estimated concerning the duration of the Habur wares, as well as of a ceramic which is close to the Habur wares in its painting technique, to the Nuzi wares in its motifs." If further investigations confirm that unexpected survival well into the first millenium of a Habur- and Nuzi-related pottery, this may entail a downward revision of many ceramic datings.

The second part of the volume, not signed but evidently prepared by the three scholars whose names appear on the title page, represents the preliminary, but very detailed, report on the excavations in 46 plates of annotated drawings. There are also 20 plates of excellent photographs and 22 pages of indexes. The map sketches in several of the symposium papers are geographically correct and relevant to the topics they illustrate.

Tall al-Hamidiya 2 will certainly be used and appreciated by archaeologists and historians of ancient north Mesopotamia. One may hope that subsequent diggings will reach deeper into the Late and Middle Bronze levels of the mound and bring us new finds and surprises.
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Author:Astour, Michael C.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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