Unit Book J2

J2 Synthetic View / Stratigraphy

Depositional history for Unit J2

Caitlin Chaves Yates – October 2010

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2


This section is designed to give a quick overview of the depositional history of J2, that is, the interpretive counterpart to the emplacement of the features. This section reflects my interpretation of the depositional events as understood from the first hand observations of the excavators and directors. A more general overview is given in the introduction to the J2 digital book.

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

The broader historical picture will be found under Horizons.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 1: Possible LC Construction

The stones of f380, refered to here as the “first staircase“, have not yet been securely dated. The excavations have not reached the bottom of this structure. It it appears to be made up of at least 3 stones, that are staggered underneath the later second staircase, which has led to the suggestion that it may be an earlier staircase. The only structures known to be earlier that the main temple terrace are dated to LC3 and are located in area J1. Although there are no LC sherds associated with f380 in J2, it has been suggested that it might be part of the earlier LC constructions in the temple terrace area.

It is also possible that this structure is not that early, but is actually a more immediate precursor to the second staircase, and may be associated with the early phases of construction as a foundation or part of the original that was later remodelled.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 2: Ninevite 5 and Early EDIII floors

This stage is characterized by the construction and use of multiple sherd and pebble floors immediately in front of the staircase. They abut the first staircase. They may be associated with the continued use of the first staricase. The sherds are very small and M. Kelly-Buccellati suggests this indicates that the floors were walked on extensively.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 3: Construction of the Monumental Access

This stage represents the most substantial changes and construction in J2. During this phase the revetment wall, second staircase, first apron, and the eastern flanking wall were all constructed. This construction shaped J2 for the next 1000 years. The floors abutting the bottom of the apron and the lowest step of the second staircase indicate the structures were built sometime in the early EDIII period.

There are many floors in front of the monumental access but they are all very thin, indicating they built up slowly and during periods of intensive use. Both human and animal footprints were found embedded in one of these floors (f381), indicating that people and animals were using the area in front of the apron in this period.

In front of the revetment wall there are sloping layers, possibly an escarpment similar to the J1 escarpment, designed to protect the base of the wall from damage.

The flanking wall to the east (f129) borders the staircase and separates the Plaza area from the other areas to the east in J6.

Combined these structures create a monumental complex, clearly designed to give access to the temple situated on the top of the mound. The J7 and J1 excavations indicate that the area to the south of the monumental complex was an open air Plaza.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 4: Intensive Use of Monumental Access

After the construction of the monumental complex, there is an extended period of heavy use. It is difficult to determine the length of time that this area was used as there are only deposits for the transitional and late EDIII. Directly on top of the EDIII floors is the extensive Mittani brickfall.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 5: Erosion

There is evidence for erosion of the EDIII floors (f366) but it is unknown how many layers were removed. There is a similar chronological gap in area J1, with Mittani layers directly on top of EDIII floors. In J2 this seems to be a result of a combination of erosion and non-use during the later periods.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 6: Brickfall

During the middle Mittani, the area of J2 fills up with brickfall. The brickfall slopes down from the southeast across of all of J7 and down toward the northwest of J2. The excavations in k15 suggest that the brickfall extends considerably to the west (see v161, notably f341). The brickfall is composed of unbaked gray and red bricks and in J7 some human remains were found inside.
During the process of the brickfall some small curtain walls (f144, f232) were built. They are insubstantial in size, often just one or two rows of stones. They might have been built to try and retain the brickfall but the brickfall is so large and the walls so small it does not seem likely. Additionally, the walls have an east-west orientation which would provide little resistance to the brickfall coming from the east. Indeed the first wall, f232, was covered and another wall (f144) was built on top. Eventually both walls were entirely covered by brickfall.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 7: Reuse after Brickfall

After the area was covered in brickfall it was again reused. Part of the revetment wall, and the upper portion of the first apron were still visible. Scattered walking floors and ashy patches were found associated with a large stone during this period and it is possible the large stone was being used for ritual purposes. At this point the second (upper) apron was constructed (but see topics for alternate possibilities for the second apron).

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2

Stage 8: Scattered use and Abandonment

After the revetment wall is totally covered there is a scattered reuse of the area. There are several large stones as well as small accumulations of stones that indicate some kind of use. It is unclear what these stones were used for but they may be used to mark the boundaries of sacred areas that are no longer visible, such as the Plaza and the revetment wall.

Back to top: Depositional history for Unit J2