Friday, July 29, 2011

Carchemish Outer Town Project, 2009-2010

In earlier posts (here and here), we noted plans to renew excavations at the site of Carchemish, perhaps even as early as this year. The ancient city straddles the modern Turkey-Syria border with the citadel and inner town in Turkey and most of the outer town in Syria.

A recent article at Antiquity's Project Gallery describes ongoing work on the Syrian side of Carchemish. Since 2006, Tony Wilkinson, a specialist in landscape archaeology, along with Edgar Peltenburg, has been conducting surveys of the Carchemish region as part of the Land of Carchemish (Syria) Project. In 2009, that project has expanded to include the site of Carchemish itself with the initiation of the Carchemish Outer Town Project. The Antiquity article provides a description and preliminary report on the 2009 and 2010 seasons of the Carchemish Outer Town Project. The project has been conducting surface surveys, photographing features, and utilizing remote sensing data to map out the site.

We determined that the outer town ramparts were much more substantial than Woolley had surmised....Artefacts collected during 2009 and 2010 indicate a dominance of ceramics contemporaneous with Iron Age 2 levels at other sites in the region...Most parallel types appear in later eighth- and seventh-century contexts on these sites...The main phase of occupation was later than that suggested in the original excavation reports; our material suggests that it derives mainly from the time when the city was under Assyrian control, namely after their installation of a governor in 717 BC until the conquest of the city by the Babylonians in 605 BC. The surface ceramics imply that the Assyrians were responsible for the enlargement of the city, and that Carchemish was more significant in that period than has been previously assumed. Evidence of occupation in the periods preceding the Iron Age consists of a handful of sherds of possibly Middle Bronze Age date. The post-Iron Age ceramics are represented by small amounts of Hellenistic and Roman wares, making it difficult to determine the scale of the settlement in these periods.

See the Antiquity article for photographs, maps and more details about the project.

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