E-LIBRARY / BIBLIOGRAPHY / Abstracts / 923akker.htm
G. Buccellati, December 2005

Peter M. M. Akkermans
and Glenn M. Schwartz

2003 The Archaeology of Syria
From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (ca. 16,000-300 BC)
Cambridge World Archaeology
Cambridge: University Press

     At the beginning of the third millennium, after the influence of southern Uruk expansion waned, Syria's urbanization experiment came to an end and it experienced instead "a period of ruralization." What developed was "a landscape of small communities with little or no evidence of monumental architecture, elite art or writing" (p.210), and with "little evidence for the existence of states or urbanism" (p.216). [However, evidence from Mozan, and also from Chuera, suggests that this was not the case at these two sites. In particular, it is clear that the monumental temple complexes at the two sites were built on an earlier version of the same structural complex, which must have dated back to ED II. In Mozan, the monumental complex of Temple BA, the existence of a developed Hurrian scribal tradition, the existence of a large city wall encircling the High Mound – all of this dates to ED III and can hardly have originated suddently at that point in time.]

     Urkesh was "probably" a dominant urban center beginning by the middle of the third millennium, suggested by "recent discovery of a monumental terrace, perhaps associated with a temple" (p. 261-2). [Temple BA, which is ignored by the authors, does in fact give good evidence for the significant urban role played by Urkesh by the mid third millennium, as well as the abi and the administrative activities documented in area OH2, both equally ignored.]

     The discovery of the Tar'am-Agade seal impressions suggests that "evidence of a Sargonic imperial presence in the upper Khabur is ... implied but still to be clarified" (p. 281). The seal impressions, which were found in "what appears to be a palace in area AK" (p.284), give representations of the royal family which "are unique in third-millennium Syrian art" (p. 285, with the reproduction of two seal impressions). Also still to be clarified is whether Tupkish is to be dated before of after Naram-Sin (p. 285), but the authors speak unequivocally of "a post-Akkadian kingdom of Urkesh" which "continued to prosper in the late third millennium" (i.e., after the Akkadian empire). [However, the stratigraphic evidence as published shows incontrovertibly that Tupkish is contemporary either with the early part of Naram-Sin's reign, or is slightly earlier. Also, there is no doubt that AK is indeed the service wing of the larger palace AP.]