Dating the Second Apron
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Revising the Date
The dating of the second apron is unclear at this point. There are several possibilities and only further excavation can clear up the point.
The original observations regarding the second apron do not provide any observations or notes that would produce a secure date. As it is difficult to date stone structures it is natural that there are few field recordings about the date of the structure. The description of the feature (f132) indicates that the excavators initally identified the second apron as contemperaneous with the first apron. Despite their initial assignment to the same phase as the first apron, the excavators clearly retained some doubts as aP noted that they were unable to explain the gap between the revetment wall and the 2nd apron. This uncertainty is also reflected in mH's excellent description of the construction (see topics) in which she describes the 2nd apron as "floating" without having any concrete connections to the revetment wall or first apron.
On P915, mH assigned the second apron to the early Mittani phase (see chart)
At some point during the history of the excavations it became accepted knowledge that the second apron actually belonged to the Mittani period. It was linked with the Mittani restructuring and re-use of the area as the plaza was being continually filled up. Mittani accumulations around the apron were cited as potential confirmation of this assignement (see notes by pC and cJC on f132).
Revising the Date
In 2011, however, discussions between jW and cJC on the dating criteria of the second apron led to the suggestion that in fact, the second apron could not be securely dated to the Mittani period. Several possibilites were suggested and they are outlined below.
The information for dating this stone structure is very scarce. Obviously, removing some of the stones to see if there are later sherds underneath could possibly help clarify the situation. However, unless Mittani sherds are found underneath there is little to discredit the theories for an earlier construction of the apron.
- The second apron was built at the same time as the rest of the monumental complex: The excavators first impulse was to assign the second apron to the same period as the construction fo the monumental access and at first glance this seems to make sense. The construction of the monumental access required a great output of resources and was designed to be impressive. In this way the upper apron helped create a sense of monumentality. Closer inspection of the stone constructions, however, showed that there were additions and modifications over time. In 2005 when the western flanking wall (f127) was fully excavated it was apparent that it was a later addition to the complex, thereby causing the excavators to reflect on if other portions could also be later additions. At this point it seems unlikely that the second apron was contemperaneous with the initial construction as it is not bonded with any of the original constructions such as the revetment wall or the first staircase.
- The Second apron was constructed in the Mittani period: This was the interpretation at the end of the 2009 excavations. The most conclusive evidence for a Second millennium date was the evidence from under several stones in J3 (J3 f10, J3 f532, and J3 f556). These stones formed the western-most section of the upper apron. Under these stones were Mittani accumulations. This led to the extrapolation that the whole second apron should be dated to the Mittani period. Once it became apparent that the monumental access, including the staircase, revetment wall, and first apron were constructed during the third millennium, the second apron was reassessed. Mittani rebuilding and reconstruction of the area was known in both J1 and J5 so it was thought that perhaps the second apron was part of the Mittani restructuring of the area. The accumulations surrounding the apron were Mittani, although that could be a result of a much later accumulation after the plaza area was no longer kept clean and the Mittani accumulations filled the space, eventually covering the revetment wall completely and coming against the second apron.
- The second apron was constructed as a modification and strengthening project just after the construction, contemporary with the second escarpment in J1. This interpretation was suggested during the reexamination of the data in Fall of 2011. A greater understanding of the restructuring based on new information from J5 indicates that the temple terrace had significant water problems and it has been suggested that perhaps the second apron was constructed at the same time as the flanking wall to prevent water damage by directing the flow of water. The evidence for this interpretation is soley that other restructuring and rebuilding of the monumental complex is known to be dated to this phase.
Overall, it is difficult to assign the second apron to any strata conclusively. At the writing of this topic the second apron has tenatively been assigned to the strata associated with rebuilding immediately after the construction of the monumental access, contemporary with the second escarpment in J1 and the western flanking wall in J2.
January 2014 update:
During meetings in 2012 the interpretation of the second apron was again revised (see ^apr2) and the apron has been assigned to the Mittani period based on comparisons and work in J3. The current strata assignment (s148J2B) reflects this interpretation.