©The Archaeological Settlements of Turkey - TAY Project

Tell Tayinat

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Tell Tayinat
160 m
Investigation Method:


Location: It lies immediate north of the motorway connecting Antakya to Aleppo; Syria through Reyhanli over the Turkey-Syria border; 17; 5 km west of the Reyhanli District; east-northeast of the Antakya Province. It is easily accessible.
Geography and Environment: It is located on the northeastern side of the Asi River. It is an oval mound. It measures 15 m in height and 700x500 m in dimensions including the slopes [Braidwood-Braidwood 1962:fig.8]. During the excavation in 1935; it was obscured by the village of Tayinat. It is surrounded by a fertile land like the other settlements of the Amuq Plain. There is a fresh water spring nearby. It lays 1.4 km far east of the Asi River. Tell Tayinat consists of an upper and a lower mound and the lower mound is under a thick layer of debris which is commonly observed in the flood plains of Orontes at Amuk [Harrison et al. 2008:87].
Research and Excavation: It was discovered in 1933 (Mound No. 126 of the Survey in the Amuq Plain); and the excavation was started in 1935 and terminated in 1938. Both the survey and the excavation were carried out under R.J. Braidwood of the Chicago Eastern Sciences Institute. The prehistoric levels were only reached at the stepped trenches opened on the slopes. For example; the building levels of the Amuq J were brought to light in an area of 134 squaremeters. The second term excavations started in 2004 after the survey started in 1999 under the directorspih of T. Harrison. It takes place in the registered archaeological sites list prepared by Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Stratigraphy: The trenches T4; T8 and T13 of Tayinat Höyügü yielded EBA finds. The best stratification came from the trench T4. General stratification is as follows; Trench T4 Trench T13 Trench T8 Stratification of the plain culture Mixed second level on surface Mixed level Building level 1 1-2 3-4 Amuq phase J (EBA III b) Building levels 2-5 5-6 Amuq phase I (EBA III a) Building levels 6-9 Amuq phase H (EBA II)
Small Finds: Architecture (ascending order): Amuq Phase H: The building levels 9-6 of the trench T4 representing this phase yielded a portion of two rooms with mudbrick walls [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.268]. The walls are thicker than the walls of Cüdeyde. Only half of a garbage pit was found. No significant structure was uncovered in the building level of phase I. It is very poor in architectural remains. The building level 5 of the trench T4 and building levels 6-5 of the trench 8 yielded mudbrick walls cutting across the trench at full length. They are accompanied with garbage pits. The mudbrick walls are observed to be in good order [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.302 and 303]. Amuq Phase J: EBA IIIb named as phase J of the Amuq Plain was revealed best with the structures uncovered at Tell Tayinat. This level having a ca. 170 cm thick cultural deposit yielded mudbrick walls of houses. A corner of a room was uncovered in the building level 4 of trench T8. Inside this room; there are small garbage pits. The mudbrick benches near the wall indicate that this room was used as a living room. A four-cornered structure built of mudbrick walls placed side by side was uncovered in building level 3. It has a better construction technique. It is opened to another room on the west through a small door. No finds related with the daily life were recovered. It can be suggested that it is a storeroom. The trench T3 also yielded mudbrick walled structures. Although the small area didn't provide an exact plan; at least small evidences were obtained related with the EBA settlement. The building level 1 yielded a four-cornered room again which has a door opening to a stone paved building on the east. The structural form of this construction is similar to the one at trench T8 [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.330 and 332]. Traces of fire expose that the building underwent a fire. The grinding stone in basalt in the southern room indicates that this room is; probably; a kitchen. Only a small portion of the northern room was uncovered. In 2004 season excavations carried out at the southern part of central western region due to investigate the outcome of the topographic survey and remote-sensing methods. Although these excavations are limited with a 3x20 m ditch and 10x10 m trenches interesting results achieved confirming the data of remote-sensing and well preserved EBA and Iron Age I remains uncovered under the Iron Age temple of first term excavations. During 2004 season 7 different architectural layer observed. The oldest layer which is also called as seventh layer reached in the limited area at the western part of trench G4.55. The brick wall here is covered with mud lying at the west side of the trench with a height of 5 rows is lime plastered. The simple and colored potsherds found here are dated to EBA IVB or Amuq Phase J [Harrison et al. 2006:353-362]. During the 2005 campaign, in the southwest of the Area I where the EIA researches condensed, at the section known as Area III excavations started in an area near the ditch T4 of Braidwood which was started to verify the presence of an EBA settlement. As plant remains over 2 m were encountered which came and accumulated with the flood waters and the erosion inside the primary G4.92 ditch which was dug the excavations resumed inside the ditch G4.72. Although there is an area of 2x10 m in dimensions which was opened in the east side of the parcel G4.72 some walls and plastered fragments were encountered in the south section of the parcel [Harrison et al. 2008:91-92]. During the 2010 studies, the floor surface of the central room dated to Field Phase 8 (FP8) was discovered in Trench G4.55 in Field 1. The studies done on the walls of the room show that the floor level related with the walls was reached. The detailed studies on the doorway on the east and the wall around it point out that the walls were a few cm deeper than the original floor level. The fill in the doorway revealed the two floor surfaces with flat lying sherds, separated by approximately 5-8 cm [Harrison et al. (L. Welton) 2012:175]. In 2011, the studies were carried out in Trench G4.56 in order to expose the walls of the building dated to EBA. These walls are smaller and thinner in terms of structure than the large and wide walls unearthed on the west of Trench G4.55. In addition to this, the walls exposed in G4.56 were aligned as a sequence of cell-like rooms that lean against the large building on the west. Therefore, it has been determined that not all but some parts of the structures exposed in G4.56 were added in the later period and this shows that some changes were made in this architectural phase of this area in the later period [Harrison et al. 2013:106]. In 2012, the excavations were carried out in Trench G4.56, G4.65 and G4.66 in order to expose the EBA levels. In Trench G4.56, the studies concentrated on removing the fills of Room A, B and C that were exposed in 2011. In Trench G4.65, a great number of mud brick walls were unearthed in 2011. It was observed that these walls are related to each other. These walls are similar with the ones found in G4.56 in terms of construction technique. These walls form generally long, rectangular rooms [Harrison et al. 2014:20-21]. Ceramics (ascending order): Amuq Phase H: Samples of the simple plain ware [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.271/3; 5]; the reserved slip ware; the red-black burnished ware; the discord brush-painted ware; the incision and impression decorated ware and the coarse kitchen ware were found in small quantities. Discord brush-painted ware bears uneven wavy lines; and unelaborate circles [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.277]. Amuq Phase I (EBA IIIa): The red-black burnished ware is among the most commonly used pottery [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.398-399]. The best samples of this ware in the Amuq Plain were found at Tayinat. Elaborately decorated vessels like groove and incision decorated vessels; stands and fruit stands were recovered [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.306/1-4]. Also found are samples of the kitchen ware; the orange-colored ware; the simple plain ware [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.314/1; 2; 5; 7;fig.315/2-4] and the reserved slip decorated ware [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.318/1-3]. Amuq Phase J (EBA IIIb): The pottery of this phase is introduced by Tell Tayinat. Orange-colored ware seen in the levels of EBA I-III (?) continues in this phase with a restricted number of sherds recovered. Intact cups and sherds of the simple ware; the painted simple ware and the combed decorated ware were found. A Troy IV type of depas is an important find providing evidence about the trade relations. It is claimed to be imported [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.349]. Another find is a gray burnished bottle which again provides information about the trade between the regions. The red-black burnished ware/Karaz ware is only found among the kitchen ware. New forms of kitchen vessels appear. An increase is observed in the number of the painting decorated ware. Goblet-like cups of the simple plain ware are very popular. They were incised in black to give an impression of a black decoration on white. During the 2005 campaign within the section known as Area III the ditch G4.72 revealed rich EBA ceramics. A large jug was found in tact in the south of the parcel. The ceramics found in this area were dated to the Amuk J period, which is the Late EBA for this region [Harrison et al. 2008:92]. During 2008 excavations sherds revealed at Area I's two different building levels named FP 8 and 9 consist of Simple and Painted Simple Amuq J, Smeared Washed Wares and Brittle Orange Ware [Harrison-Batiuk (Welton-Hinman) 2010:492-493]. During the 2010 season, Simple and Painted Simple Wares, Smeared Washed Wares and a few Brittle Orange Wares were recovered in Trench G4.55 in Field 1. These wares are dated to Field Phase 8 and 9 (FP 8 and 9) which represent the characteristics of Amuq Phase J. In Trench G4.56, a number of pits with mixed EBA and IA I pottery were exposed [Harrison et al. (L. Welton) 2012:175]. Clay: The building levels dating to the Amuq Phase I yielded terra cotta idols and animal figurines of which Mesopotamian influence is clearly perceived. The nose of an idol; half broken; is like a beck. It has a comb-like ornament on its head [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.323/3] while a triangular figurine has depictions of hair and beard. Eyes are ring-projected. Phase J has interesting figurines. One of them is a figure of Mother Goddess sitting behind an animal looks like a frog. Another one has a semi-head. It depicts a god with a large and long nose; big ears and swollen eyes. The face is given a sarcastic expression by incising the mouth slightly distorted. It is interesting to see that the sling pebbles are still used. A mould made of coarse sand tempered clay and employed in metal casting was recovered. Fragment of an andiron was found at phase J. It represents a distinctive type of andiron than the ones at phases H and I. It was discovered with the sherds dated to EBA inside a ditch in Area 2 in 2006 campaign [Harrison et al. 2009:511]. Chipped Stone: There is a blade industry of flint. The presence of sickle-knives made in Canaanean style is an indication of heavy agriculture [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.325]. The retouches are coarse. The number of flint tools is; somehow; very small. The production technique of the earlier phase continues. Ground Stone: A flat axe; asymmetrical on both sides; is a good sample of its type rarely recovered from phase I [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.326/1]. Stone beads were found at phase J [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.354]. The excavator informs that rare finds were recovered particularly from phase J. Bone/Antler: Awls in bone were found. Metal: Amuq Phase I yielded small chisels in copper/bronze; needle and round headed pin. The most distinctive of these finds is a double spiral headed pin [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.324/6]. Although the analyses were finished; the rates of the metals were not provided. Phase J also yielded copper pins; shaft-holed axe and dagger [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:fig.351]. The dagger with a riveted tang has a triangular blade. The trace of the wooden handle is observed on the tang. Again a shaft-holed axe in copper is very small. On its butt; there is a small spur projection. One of the pins is a hair/knot pin [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:351/3]. The find providing evidence for mining activities inside the settlement during phase J is a mould made of clay [Braidwood-Braidwood 1960:350]. The cavities were carved in four side of the mould; only the top is open. It is thought that it was employed for casting chisel or burin. The surface of the mould is slightly burnished due to heavy usage. In spite of this mould; no pots that could be employed as crucibles were mentioned.
Interpretation and Dating: The socioeconomic position of the Amuq Plain played an important role as a bridge between the Mediterranean region and the Eastern-Southeastern Anatolia-Mesopotamia regions. It is a gate from Mesopotamia to Mediterranean. Tell Tayinat contributed to the archaeology world by yielding finds at least covering a period from the Early Dynasty Period to the Ur III Period of the Antakya region. Phase H of the Amuq Plain is comparable with the Early Dynasty II-IIIA of Mesopotamia; phase I with the Early Dynasty IIIA/Akkads and phase J with the end of the Akkads/Ur III Periods [Yakar 1985a:357]. The mound is largely renowned by its finds of phase J. As architectural remains; the presence of mudbrick structures of public settlements is observed. The confined excavation area doesn't allow us to make any interpretation about the settlement plan. The red-black burnished ware recovered in large quantities from the EBA II and IIIa almost diminishes through the end of the last phase of EBA. Likewise; the orange-coloured ware employed frequently during the EBA II lessens in the upper levels of the last phase. Although small in area; it is noted that it is very rich in small finds. Aside cultural interactions with many settlements in Mesopotamia; the site was in close relation with Anatolian cities like Gözlükule; Tilmen; Zincirli; Tepecik and Arslantepe. A depas of the Western and Central Anatolian region found in the mound; aside a Syrian bottle; is another evidence of this intense trading [Watson 1971:77-81].

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