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Description of Horizon 2MZA

Giorgio Buccellati – October 2011

The term “protoliterate” has gone out of use, but I consider it useful in that, by referring to a specific cultural event (the invention of writing), it avoids the kind of geographical limitation that the term “Uruk” entails.

In Urkesh, we have important evidence for the central moment of this period, when the great Temple Terrace was already in place, with a system of walls at its base (in J1) and a mud brick structure at its top (in B8).

We can also assume that the origins of the ābi go back to an earlier point in time than the levels to which we have excavated it to date, given the fact that at its lowest elevation it is still some 6 meters above virgin soil. If so, we may set its origin to this horizon.

On the other hand, there is no evidence at this point for a political dimension of the city next to the Temple. Considering the significance of Urkesh in Hurrian myth, and the archaeological evidence for significant religious structures dating to this horizon, we may suggest that in this period the Urkesh leadership was predominantly of a religious nature.

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