A monumental Middle Bronze Age building at Salat Tepe on the Upper Tigris (Turkey)

A. Tuba Ökse

Salat Tepe is one of the ancient settlements within the area to be flooded by the Ilısu-Dam (Algaze et al. 1991: 213, fig. 2a, no. 56; Ökse 1999; 2004; Ökse and Alp 2002; in press). The site lies c. 5 km to the north of the Tigris, on the western bank of the Salat Stream (Figure 1).

The Building

At the beginning of the second millennium BC the summit of the 17 m high Chalcolithic mound was levelled with clay fill and a platform was formed by paving with mud-brick. A floor was laid, of pebble from the river bed in the clay of the platform and a building with thick mud-brick walls with limestone block foundations was then constructed (Figure 2).

Figure 1
Figure 1. Location of the Middle Bronze Age sites on the Upper Tigris region.
Click to enlarge.
Figure 2

Figure 2. The Middle Bronze Age building at Salat Tepe from the south-west.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Plan of the building at Salat Tepe.
Click to enlarge.

The walls are built with standard mud-bricks of 35 x 35 x 8 cm. The outer walls are of 3-3.5 m mud-brick thick while the inner walls are of 2-2.5 m mud-brick thick; the walls have been exposed to a height of 1.65 m. Although the building is disturbed by erosion and later granaries, a suite of rectangular rooms encircling a large courtyard has been defined (Figure 3).

One of these rooms had two alcoves in the inner face of its western wall. Ten stone weights and pieces of carbonised wooden furniture were found on the floor (Figure 4), pointing to the prior existence of a weaving loom. The assemblage in this room (Figures 5-6) included ten vessels, an andiron, two basalt vessels, a grinding stone, one small bronze hoof and one bronze human leg, probably belonging to a rider figurine.

Figure 4
Figure 4. The room with loom weights on the mound summit.
Click to enlarge.
Comparison and Dating

In the Upper Tigris Region there are several public buildings on high mound summits showing similar architectural features. These are at Üçtepe 11 (Özfirat 2006), the burned building at Ziyaret Tepe (Matney et al. 2004: 393), areas C2 and D4 in Kenan Tepe (Parker and Dodd 2003: 37-38), buildings A and C in Giricano (Schachner 2004: 511), Kavuşan Höyük III (Kozbe et al. 2004: 469) and Hirbo Merdan (Laneri 2005). According to 14C analyses from Kenan Tepe and Salat Tepe, these buildings were in use within the nineteenth-sixteenth centuries BC.

All the buildings depict similar ceramic assemblages consisting mainly of the Red-Brown Wash Ware (Parker and Dodd 2003), Cooking-Pot Ware and the Standard Monochrome Ware dating to the first half of the second millennium BC. These contexts contain also painted vessels of Khabur-Ware dating to the Middle Bronze Age (Oates et al. 1997: 63, 68, 145-147) and a few sherds of Nuzi Painted Ware dating to the Late Bronze Age; the overlap between these wares occurs around the sixteenth century BC (Akkermans and Schwartz 2003: 309). Some sherds within these contexts belong to the second half of the third millennium BC. These are the Dark Rimmed Orange Bowls (Oates et al 2001: 161-162) and the medium grey, smoothed and burnished ware of Early Jezirah IIIb-V (Pruß 2000: 196, 199; Lebeau 2000: 176-177, 188, Table V) as well as the Post-Akkadian Grey Burnished Ware of the Upper Khabur Region (Oates et al 2001: 65, 173).

Figure 5
Figure 5. Red-Brown Wash Ware from the room on the mound summit.
Click to enlarge.
Discussion

All these buildings have thick mud-brick walls suggesting multi-stored buildings. One of the buildings at Giricano covers an area of c. 625 m2. At Salat Tepe 600 m2 of the building has been excavated which is about half of the building. The tablets collected in the building complex dating to the Middle Assyrian Period at Giricano depicted a Middle Assyrian dunnu, a rural fortified centre controlling the surrounding agricultural lands (Radner 2004: 113 ff, 119, 138, Tab. 12), such as the dimtu of the Old Babylonian Period. These other sites might also have had a similar function, since the agricultural lands could be watched over from other monumental buildings and the products could most probably be stored and protected there. The distance between Üçtepe and Ziyarettepe located to the south of the Tigris Valley is c. 25 km; Kavuşan Höyük is 8-8.5 km to Ziyarettepe. The distance between Giricano and Kenan Tepe is 6.5 km, while the distance between Kenan Tepe and Salat Tepe is c. 20 km. Thus, all these buildings seem to have constituted large complexes constructed on hills watching over the fields, each by a tributary of the Tigris River, and in contact with each other.

Figure 6
Figure 6. Andiron and figurine pieces from the room on the mound summit.
Click to enlarge.

References

  • AKKERMANS, P. M. M. G. & G. M. SCHWARTZ. 2003. The Archaeology of Syria from Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (c. 16 000-300 BC). Cambridge World Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ALGAZE, G., R. BREUNINGER, C. LIGHTFOOT & M. ROSENBERG. 1991. The Tigris-Euphrates Archaeological Reconnaissance Project: A Preliminary Report of the 1987-1990 Seasons. Anatolica 17: 175-240.
  • KOZBE, G., K. KÖROGLU & H. SAGLAMTEMIR. 2004. 2001 Excavations at Kavuşan Höyük, in N. Tuna, J. Öztürk & J. Velibeyoğlu (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2001: 463-503. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.
  • LANERI, N. 2005. Hirbemerdon Tepe 2003: A Preliminary Report, in 26. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı 2, Konya 2004: 63-72. Ankara: Kültür Bakanligi Yayınları.
  • LEBEAU, M. 2000. Stratified Archaeological Evidence und Compared Periodizations in the Syrian Jezirah During the Third Millennium BC, in C. Marro & H. Hauptmann (ed.) Chronologies des Pays du Caucase et de L'Euphrate aux IVe-IIIe Millenaires: 167-192. Paris: Boccard.
  • MATNEY, T., M. ROAF, J. McGINNIS, H. McDONALD. 2004. Excavations at Ziyaret Tepe, 2001, in N. Tuna, J. Öztürk & J. Velibeyoğlu (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2001: 387-423. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.
  • OATES, D., J. OATES & H. McDONALD. 1997. Excavations at Tell Brak 1: The Mitanni and Old Babylonian Periods. Cambridge: McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research.
  • OATES, D., J. OATES & H. McDONALD. 2001. Excavations at Tell Brak 2: Nagar in the Third Millennium BC. Cambridge: McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research.
  • ÖKSE, A. T. 1999. Salat Tepe Researches in 1998, in N. Tuna, & J. Öztürk (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 1998: 333-351. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.
    - 2004. 2001 Rescue Excavations at Salat Tepe, in N. Tuna, J. Öztürk & J. Velibeyoğlu (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2001: 603-640. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.
  • ÖKSE, A. T. & A. O. ALP. 2002. 2000 Excavations at Salat Tepe, in N. Tuna, J. Öztürk & J. Velibeyoğlu (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2000: 645-670. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.
    - in press. 2002 Excavations at Salat Tepe, in N. Tuna, J. Greenhalgh & J. Velibeyoğlu (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2002. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.
  • ÖZFIRAT, A. 2006. Üçtepe II: Tunç Çağları (13.-10. Yapı Katları). Istanbul: Ege Yayınları.
  • PARKER, J. B. & L. S. DODD. 2003. The Early Second Millennium Ceramic Assemblage from Kenan Tepe, Southeastern Turkey. A Preliminary Assessment. Anatolian Studies 53: 33-69.
  • PRUß, A. 2000. The Metallic Ware of Upper Mesopotamia: Definition, Chronology and Distribution, in C. Marro & H. Hauptmann (ed.) Chronologies des Pays du Caucase et de L'Euphrate aux IVe-IIIe Millenaires: 193-203. Paris: Boccard.
  • RADNER, K. 2004. Das mittelassyrische Tontafelarchiv von Giricano/Dunnu-Sha-Uzibi. Ausgrabungen in Giricano 1. Subartu 14. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.
  • SCHACHNER, A. 2004. Vorbericht über die Ausgrabungen in Giricano, 2001, in N. Tuna, J. Öztürk & J. Velibeyoğlu (ed.) Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2001: 505-546. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.

Author

A. Tuba Ökse
Kocaeli University, Faculty of Science and Literature, Department of Archaeology, TR-41300 Izmit-Kocaeli (Email: tubaokse@yahoo.com)