AP – The Palace

Palace AP

Area AA at a glance

Giorgio Buccellati – November 2006

Excavations in Zone A began in 1990. The aim was to open a step trench that would reach from the highest point on the mound to an area at the base of the mound that allowed sufficient room for lateral exposure. As it happened, this wide area turned out to be the Palace built by king Tupkish. Within it, we found the evidence confirming our initial assumption that Tell Mozan was the site of ancient Urkesh.

It was not clear from the beginning that the structures uncovered at the base of the trench were part of a Palace. Even after the discovery of the seal impressions that gave us the name of the king and of the ancient city, we continued to assume that this was at best a royal storehouse, which we labeled AK (in green in the photo).

Only after the excavations began to expose the formal wing (in yellow in the photo), could we reasonably conclude that the entire complex was a Palace, of which the “storehouse” was in fact the service wing.

At its southwestern corner, the strata that came to overlay the Palace after its abandonment did not contain any real structural build-up. Rather, there was only evidence of a scattered occupation, consisting of such features as graves, pits, bread ovens. For this reason, there was no particular need to obtain a full horizontal exposure of each stratum, and we could instead excavate directly to the level of the Palace.

However, once the excavations proceeded to the east and to the north (in an uphill direction), the situation changed: there were now regular structures, including houses and built-up graves. Accordingly, it was decided that we would first aim for a full horizontal exposure of each stratum before removing it in an effort to reach the level of the Palace.

The label “Area AA” was thus introduced to refer to the Palace, to the annexed lower Sacral Area, and to the strata that overlay both the Palace and the lower Sacral Area. The following areas are nested within Area AA:


  • AK: the service wing of the Palace
  • AF: the formal wing of the Palace
  • AP: the whole Palace by itself, including AK and AF
  • AS: the lower sacral area, including the ābi (= unit A12)
  • AU: the open area and structures of the Ur III / Isin-Larsa strata (phase 4)
  • AH: the open area and structures of the Khabur strata (phase 5)
  • AM: the open area and structures of the Mittani strata (phase 6)

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