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British Museum Excavations in Northern Syria

Nature volume 143, page 715 (29 April 1939) | Download Citation



SOME further details of finds of the British Museum archaeological expeditions to northern Syria under Sir Leonard Woolley and Mr. M. E. L. Mallowan in 1938 are given in the official summaries (Brit. Museum Quarterly, 13, 1; 1939). The most important objects found within the palace at Atchana, in the opinion of Sir Leonard Woolley, are the clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform in the Akkadian language, from which it has been possible to learn not only the name of the place—Alalakh—but also the names of several of its rulers. One of these was contemporary with Saush-satar, a king of Mitanni, already known as a leading potentate in western Asia in the middle of the fifteenth century B.C. Among the small objects the most interesting is a steatite roundel engraved on both surfaces with formal patterns surrounding a middle ring, which encloses characters of the Hittite hieroglyphic writing. At Tall Brak Mr. Mallowan found the great palace to be a building of Naram Sin of Agade, bricks being stamped with his name, and tablets being found of the Agade period of about 2500 B.C. The south-west corner of the palace proved to be built over the ruins of a great mud-brick tower, probably part of a temple, belonging to the Jemdet Nasr period, more than five hundred years earlier. It rested on a clay platform, under which was buried a great number of votive objects. Most of them were in underground chambers, which had been visited by robbers in antiquity. Apart from a large collection of beads, there were many amulets of two principal kinds, the first being stamp seals in the form of animals, or animal heads, and secondly little stone ‘idols’ found in large numbers, which though classed as amulets, are of unknown significance. They vary little in style; but some show as many as three pairs of eyes side by side, while one or two seem to portray mother and child. Many sherds of prehistoric painted ware were found, especially of the Tell Halaf style.

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