Syria Archeology and Ancient Arts Part I

By | December 17, 2021

Archaeological exploration developed with a feverish pace throughout the territory of Syria until the beginning of the Second World War, devoting itself both to shedding light on the still obscure problems of the prehistoric period, and to exploring new centers of the Greek and Roman age.. As for the most ancient civilizations, various excavations have contributed to demonstrate the close contacts existing since the beginning between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, which took place along the Euphrates as well as across the Syrian desert.

Right on the border between Mesopotamia and Syria, on today’s Tell Ḥarīrī on the left bank of the Euphrates between Āl Bū Kemāl and the ruins of Dura-Europo, near the Baghdād-Aleppo track, 6 excavation campaigns of a French mission led by A. Parrot from 1933 to 1939, partially discovered the remains of the ancient city of Mari. This was an important center of life dating back to the pre-Argonic period, at least at the end of the fourth millennium BC. C. (the region was also inhabited previously, as evidenced by the findings of Count Du Mesnil du Buisson in Baghūz on the left bank of the Euphrates, which have returned ceramics of the type of Sāmarrā). Mari had its greatest splendor under its kings around 2000 BC. C., until the last of his dynasty, Zimrilin, came into conflict with Ḥammurabi, which occupied and destroyed the city, which has since returned to the rank of a provincial town that survived until the Neo-Babylonian age. The excavations, in addition to the zigurrat and various and notable temples, have returned the grandiose royal palace, built around 2000 BC. C., a true jewel of oriental architecture and very important for its similarities with Cretan architecture. Paintings, inspired by ritual and cultic themes, adorned the walls of the audience hall, a courtyard and another room, and they too – until now a a true jewel of oriental architecture and very important for its similarities with Cretan architecture. Paintings, inspired by ritual and cultic themes, adorned the walls of the audience hall, a courtyard and another room, and they too – until now a a true jewel of oriental architecture and very important for its similarities with Cretan architecture. Paintings, inspired by ritual and cultic themes, adorned the walls of the audience hall, a courtyard and another room, and they too – until now a unicum for oriental painting of this age – reveal contacts, still not well understood, with the paintings of the Cretan palaces. The huge booty of finds, which includes one of the richest diplomatic archives of the age around 2000 BC. C., has also restored numerous sculptures, some of presargonic and sargonic art and others of the age of the kings of Mari, among which we mention, for example, the beautiful goddess with a vase throwing a stream of water. For Syria 2018, please check ethnicityology.com.

In the years immediately preceding the war, excavations were also begun in some very ancient locations, which form a series of numerous tells on the upper Khābīr valley, in the so-called “bec de canard” of Syria extending towards the territory of Iraq, north of the Gebel Singiār and Gebel Abd al-‛Azīz, as far as the Turkish border. One of the most important places among these is Tell BBrāk, which in historical times had been one of the cornerstones of the limes Roman of Syria. The excavations, by an English mission directed by MEL Mallowan, were conducted from 1937 to 1939. A city, which has been based here since the Chalcolithic era, has brought to light the beautiful pottery of the Tell Halaf and Arpachiya type; it then continued to unfold until the Hurrian era, ie around 1700-1400 BC. C. Among its main buildings, in addition to an ancient zigurrat, we can remember the palace of Narām-Sin, king of Akkad, grandson of Sargon. The same mission simultaneously excavated the locality of Chagar Bazar, north-west of the previous one, which also restored numerous stratifications for the same epochs of Tell Brāk, with very rich pottery especially for the prehistoric age. These localities of the upper Khābūr, in addition to the relations between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean,

On the middle course of the Euphrates, between 1929 and 1931 the remains of the city of Til-Barsib were excavated, near today’s Tell Aḥmar, an important river crossing, on its left bank about 20 km away. downstream of Gerāblus. A thriving city for the transshipment of the river as early as the third millennium BC. C., passed into Hittite hands in II, at the time of Salmanasar III it probably became the capital of an important Aramaic state. His Assyrian palace has given birth to a rare series of paintings, as well as sculptures and various other objects. The aforementioned relations between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean have been found in the west as far as the mouth of the Orontes, in some prehistoric locations located on both sides of the Aleppo-Antioch road. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, under the leadership of CM Mc Ewan, he carried out excavations between 1933 and 1937 in three localities, in Ciatal-Huyuk, Gedeide and Tell Tainat, also in these going up in the lower layer (XIV) up to the prehistoric age. In Gedeide the XII layer, from the time of Gemdet Nasr (about 3100 BC), has returned, among other things, some interesting copper statuettes, male and female, of Northern Syrian art. In Tell Tainat, among the ruins of the hilani (or megaron) south of the palace – building dating back to around 800 BC. C. – two crouched lions were discovered, paired in support of a column, as well as three other finely worked bases in relief, which supported the three columns of the building’s atrium.

Syria Ancient Arts