Unit Book A16
A16 Synthetic View / Stratigraphy

Depositional history for Unit A16

Giorgio Buccellati – November 2007
Lorenzo Crescioli – April 2012

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In this section one will find the depositional history as we understand it, i.e., the unfolding of events that characterized the development through time of A16. This section is explicitly interpretive, and it reflects exclusively my understanding, as it was arrived at with constant interaction with the other authors of this digital books, i.e., mKB, fAB, and lR. A first quick overview is given in the introduction to the A16 digital book. The phase assignments were revised from the AAC sequence to the AAH sequence in June 2016 by cJC.

More details about the two basic stratigraphic subdivisions in phases and strata are given elsewhere.

The broader historical picture will be found under Horizons. The division in stages is, in this case, identical with the sequence of phases.

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A small clarification

The depositional history could be organized following two different models: a stratigraphic-archaeological model and an Historical model. The stratigraphic model presents the history of the area as found in the ground, so on the upper part of the page the latest evidences, while scrolling down the older ones, until the oldest at the bottom of the page. The historical model on the other side presents the oldest evidences at the beginning of the page, showing the history of the evidences like in a story, until the last episodes at the end of the page. The A16 model is a composite, the structure is following the historical model, but then inside each stage the schematic drawings follow a stratigraphic model.

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Stage 1. The pre-Palace evidence (phase 3AAH)

The elevation of the Palace floors being about 10 meters above virgin soil, it is obvious that many earlier strata exist below the Palace itself. We also know from excavations in the AK sector that the pre-Palace surface sloped rather strongly to the southwest, necessitating a rather substantial leveling off by means of fills in the lower portion and, possibly, substantial cutting in the higher portion. In A16, we have very limited evidence of this situation through the sections of some of the pits that pierced the seal of the paved courtyard and through a few seal impressions, datable to the ED III period, that were found adjacent to the same pits.

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Stage 2. The Akkadian period Palace (phases 4j-4kAAH)

We basically have no material remains associated with these phases (other than the construction of the walls and of the courtyard in Phase 4jAAH). Clearly, the reason is that the pavement could, and had to, be kept in view at all times, and thus nothing was left to accumulate on it durin phase 4k. We assume that the duration was no more than one generation, that of Tupkish. The reason is that in the first accumulations of the AK service wing (especially in A1 and A6), we find a vast amount of glyptic material that is exclusively linked to this king, his wife Uqnitum and their court.

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Stage 3. The non residential use and the abandonment of the Palace (phase 4mAAH)

After Tupkish, the Palace continued to be used in the service of the royal administration, but no longer as the residence of the royal family. The evidence for this comes almost totally from outside of A16. Here, in fact, the collapse of the Palace walls (in the guise of red brickfall) is found immediately above the stone courtyard.

Broken courtyard in the west - wooden installation for throne?

A15: tannurs; Tar’am-Agade.

AK situation.

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A sketch of the depositional history of the Palace

The full depositional history of the Palace will only be understood upon a much more extensive exposure than has been reached so far. For now, one will find summarized in the sketch section below the hypothesis that allows us to propose a reasonable explanation for what we have in A16.

We assume that the Palace extended eastward all the way to A19, in which general area we expect the perimeter wall of the Palace to have been, flanked by the J Plaza. During the main occupation of the Palace (phase 4kAAH) there was no build-up, at least not where, as in the A16 paved courtyard, the hard surface was kept always in full view. On the contrary, in the AK service wing there was such a heavy buildup that the walls had to be raised – with grey bricks, as we see evidenced especially in A1, A6, A10.

Accumulations began to accrue when the Palace was no longer formally used as such (phase 4mAAH).

At the end of this phase, the Palace was abandoned, which may have meant that the roof beams and the doors were removed, and the brick walls were allowed to crumble. Typologically, the red material found, at the same absolute elevation, in A16 and A19 is very similar, suggesting that it represents the detritus of walls made of the same material. The reason why the wall fall consists of red bricks is because in the formal wing of the Palace the walls were not raised with grey bricks as in the AK service wing. As a result, the top of the walls consisted of the same red bricks as those we see everywhere else at the base of the walls.

The collapse would have been an event rather limited in time, on top of which followed immediately the occupation of the area as an open air sector.

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Stage 4. Heavy open air build-up in the Ur III / Isin-Larsa periods (phase 5AAH)

Following the collapse and abandonment of the Palace, the relevant portion as exposed in A16 remained without any structural build-up. There is no indication of an interruption in the settlement (such as would be evidenced by heavy eolic deposits), but only of a change in the use of the area. There was a heavy build-up of open air deposits, with further evidence of outdoor installations such as small pits.

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Stage 5. The long Khabur period sequence (phase 6AAH)

During Khabur period we are able to isolate three main stages recorded in A16:

  1. The area was used as a dumping area. The large hollow formed in the courtyard after the Palace collapse was filled by ash and dirt. The area was probably marginal during Khabur period and it was a perfect place to dump rubbish and ash coming from the nearby pit kilns.
  2. After sometimes the area was completely filled and flat. At this point, above natural and flat accumulations covering the area, many structures were built. It did not matter if the area was marginal and probably not very safe, because mainly burials and graves were built, and not houses.
  3. During Late Khabur the area did not receive any more attention, and even if the occupation was continuous, this area shows an abandonment stage, with the collapse of the numerous structures forming a thick brickfall.

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A sketch of the constructional history of the Khabur period structures


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