Unit Book J3



Giorgio Buccellati – August 2023

Strata assignments for the features in J3 seemed straight-forward until a complete analysis by mKB of the ceramics recovered in two seasons of excavations revealed that, except for the soil on and one-meter below the surface, almost all the recovered pottery to the north of a large stone revetment wall is from the Late Chalcolithic 3 Period.

Excavations in MZ18 and MZ19 exposed a stone revetment wall, f11; an associated baqaya glacis, f50 and f109; and a decorative apron, f10 and f532. The wall was dated to the Early Dynastic III period, primarily on the continuity with excavations to the east (J2) and west (J1). The baqaya glacis abutted the wall and dated to the same period. Limited excavations were conducted to the south of the wall and items and pottery recovered there were dated to the Mittani period. A probe behind the north face of the wall to see how it was constructed yielded ceramics dated to the LC3 period. The second apron on the east side J3, but north of the revetment wall was dated to the Mittani period, as were memory stones that followed the line of the revetment wall after it was covered. Close to the surface there was an installation consisting of a floor, line of stones, and a crude floor dated to a period after Mittani abandonment.

The ceramics analysis to date indicates that sherds from the baqaya glacis, the fill underneath (from the excavation behind the revetmet wall) and at least two layers above the glacis almost exclusively contained LC3 sherds.

Excavations in MZ23 were undertaken to clarify the situation as it existed beneath the baqaya glacis. Again, the ceramics from the glacis, and other features below it (mostly fills and floors associated with what is surely the corner of a massive brick wall) are exclusively LC3.

At the close of MZ23 we made a first cut at assigning strata to features either excavated in MZ23 or excavated in MZ18 and MZ19 which contained LC3 pottery. All were placed in the Late Chalcolithic 3 phases.

I have had some additional thoughts, based on inconsitencies between these assignments and those we made in previous seasons. What follows below is a reasoned scenario about what happened and when which may unify the overall strata assignment process.

  1. The wall, f348, and platform, f363, excavated in MZ23 are the earliest features yet excavated. Because they are mudbrick, one assumes that they were in use for one generation. They could have been built in either LC2 or LC3, but all the material from associated floors, f355 and f359 and floor accumulation, f358 is LC3, indicating that is the most likely period for the construction. [not necessarily, because we do not have the base]

  2. Next, the structure with which the wall is associated went out of use. At that time some of the top bricks were cut and the top contoured to make a new slope. The residue was used fills f351 and f352, both of which contained LC3 ceramics. A crusty surface, f368, formed and was the earliest glacis. Although we have no direct evidence for a retaining or revetment wall, the seven-meter(?) [but we do not have the base of the mudbrick structure] elevation difference between this surface and the LC3 level of the plaza indicates there almost surely was one. Whether it was brick or stone is not known.

  3. There is then a hiatus of several occupation periods, including Ninivite V. The next evidence of activity is the construction of the extant revetment wall, f11, and the abutting baqaya glacis, f50 and f109. The back side (N) of the revetment wall was filled with soil containing LC3 ceramics, and the fill, f346, which covered the first glacis, f368, and underlaid the second glacis, f109, had exclusively LC3 ceramics. (Note that f346 could have been natural accumulation containing ceramics from features to the north of it.) The revetment wall is securely dated to the EDIII period and the baqaya glacis was part its protection, diverting water runoff over its top, making it, too EDIII.

  4. There is another hiatus of several occupational periods (sacral isolation of the BA temple mound?) and then we see vast quantities of Mittani ceramics in accumulations south of the revetment wall. These accumulations arise from the filling of the plaza. To the north of the revetment wall, we continue to see LC3 material in accumulations above the glacis, f109, including f114, and f120. The most logical explanation is that these were deposited in Mittani times, but contained much earlier artifacts whose source was the ruins of the off-limits construction to the north. This notion that this LC3 material from deteriorating substantial structures above that was carried down the hill is enhanced by the large number of “floating stones” recovered from accumulations that covered the baqaya glacis.

  5. In the last [the stratigraphic reason why it is not the early would be that this seems to go the filling in of the Plaza] stages of Mittani use of the temple mound, the second apron, f10 and f532, were constructed. Sometime afterwards the wahal glacis, f152, contained [presumably some, not exclusively] LC3 ceramics was constructed in the course of laying memeory stones. Most likely the soil for the glacis had already been deposited from runoff. It contained [presumably some, not exclusively] LC3 sherds and was merely contoured to fit the desired slope.

  6. The final phase of scattered occupation is reflected in a wall, floor and tannur, a7, which rested on accumulation, f114, another accumulation containing [presumably some, not exclusively] LC3 ceramics.

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