Tell Aushariye website
- From Jesper Eidem <je@...>
You may wish to visit the new website for the Danish excavations at
Tell Aushariye in Syria :
From the introductory material:
Since 2000 Danish archaeologists have carried out excavations at Tell
Aushariye in northern Syria. Aushariye is an ancient fortress, located
strategically on an important route across the river Euphrates. Probably
it can be identified with a site known from several ancient sources.
Foremost Assyrian inscriptions from the 9th cent. BC, which mention a
place named Pitru, which was located exactly where Aushariye is.
The first excavations have uncovered remains of the Iron Age settlement,
including the Assyrian period, but also revealed that Aushariye was
occupied already in the 4th mill. BC.
Tell is an Arabic word for a mound of accumulated settlement ruins.
Aushariye is the name of a modern village some 700 m from the tell, and
which has given it its name. The tell itself lies high on a cliff with a
fantastic view over the recently formed, artificial Tishrin Lake. On the
slopes of the cliff are eroded remains of terraces and fortification
The excavation at Tell Aushariye is at present the only Danish project of
this kind in Syria. It has come about thanks to the kind permission of the
Syrian Antiquities Authority and support from several Danish institutions
The Earliest Remains
On the high plateau of Aushariey thick Iron Age levels effectively seal
the earlier settlements, but sherds found in various places, on the eroded
slopes or in later fills, show that the site presumably was occupied in
the 4th mill. BC. The sherds belong to the local Chalcolithic tradition.
A few hundred meters from Aushariye, on the north bank of the Sajour, is a
small site on a hilltop. On its surface are sherds which show that the
site was occupied in the same period, but the sherds include types which
are linked to ceramic traditions of southern Mesopotamia. At other sites
along the Euphrates similar material has been excavated, and these sites
appear to be actual colonies of people from the south, who for as yet
unknown reasons (trade?) settled far and wide outside their homeland. It
seems therefore that the small site, known as Nizel Hussain, may be such a
colony, establehed close to the local settlement on Aushariye. We hope in
a later season to investigate this site more closely.
The Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BC)
During the Middle Bronze Age the Euphrates south of Karkemish was border
between the kingdom of Jamhad with its capital Halab (modern Aleppo) in
western Syria, and Mesopotamian kingdoms to the east. During a brief
period in the 18th cent. BC all of northern Mesopotamia was united under
the mighty king Shamshi-Adad I, who ruled a kingdom stretching from the
Iranian mountains to the Euphrates. Written sources provide accounts of
confrontations between Shamshi-Adad and the king of Jamhad, Sumu-Epuh, and
of forts on the Euphrates which were established, lost and reconquered.
Aushariye may have been one of these forts, known as Dur-Shamshi-Adad or
Dur-Sumu-Epuh (dur means fortress in the ancient Akkadian language and
the rest of the name refers to two rivals that the place).
In Area G at the southwestern corner of Aushariye excavation has uncovered
3 different levels dating to the Middle Bronze Age. In the oldest Level
VIII are remains of an enceinte built of mud bricks on limestone footings.
Associated ceramics and other finds show that it probably dates to the
early part of the period (ca. 2000-1900 BC).
The Late Bronze Age
During the Late Bronze Age the Karkemish region and the Syrian Euphrates
was focus for conflicts between the great powers of the time: the Hittite
empire in Anatolia, the Mitanni kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia, and
interventions from Egypt, which controlled parts of the Levant.
The earliest level of this period in Aushariye (in Area G) is built
directly on top of the burnt rooms of Level VI. Apparently the ruins were
cut down and the old walls used as foundations for new houses. The finds
show that this level (V) dates to the early part of the period when the
region formed part of the Hurrian Mitanni kingdom.
The Iron Age (1200-600 BC)
In the early Iron Age Karkemish was the capital of a local Hittite
dynasty, which controlled a stretch of the Euphrates southwards, probably
including Aushariye. Other forces, however, were at work. From west and
south appeared mobile Aramean groups and settled in the region, and
simultaneously the Assyrians, from their base in northern Iraq started to
expand their domain. Tiglathpileser I (1114-1076 BC), according to
information by his later successor Shalmaneser III (858-824 BC), occupied
Pitru on the west bank of the Euphrates, but this place was lost to
Arameans ca. 100 years later, and was recaptured by Shalmaneser in the
mid-9th cent. BC. Subsequently the Assyrians largely controlled the
Euphrates region until the fall of their empire in the late 7th cent.
In Aushariye parts of three Iron Age levels have been excavated. The
upper, younger Level I is badly damaged by erosion and later pits, but
dates to the later part of the Iron Age (8th-7th cent. BC), when the
region had become firmly integrated in the Assyrian empire. Towards the
end of this period Aushariye was apparently no longer needed as a
fortress, and the many pits with Late Assyrian material would indicate
that the site ended as a kind of village. This situation is seen also on
other Iron Age sites on the Euphrates. The region was no longer a border
zone, but virtually part of the Assyrian home land.
- I'm hoping that another site will be found to match that of Sha'ar Hagolan 1.
(Thinking of Garfinkel and Miller's publication)
MA in Archaeology
"The Antiquity of Man" http://www.antiquityofman.com
Book: "The Antiquity of Man: Artifactual, fossil and gene records explored"
- !ke e: /xarra //ke
("Diverse people unite": Motto of the South African Coat of Arms, 2002)