Listed below are doctoral dissertations and other theses that deal with Urkesh and/or use data from our excavations at Tell Mozan:|
The contributions are listed in reverse chronological order:
Anthropomorphic figurines, statuettes and jewelry from Urkesh.
An archaeological and historical study.
University of Pavia, Italy.
Prof. Giorgio Buccellati, Thesis Supervisor.
Doctoral thesis focusing on the anthropomorphic figurines, statuettes and plaques discovered in Urkesh and pertaining to the third and second millennium BC. The research offers an archaeological study of the artifacts in question, focusing on their descriptive attributes, their stratigraphical and archaeological context and their typological classification, where all this data is used as a steppingstone towards an analytical study of their meaning and function.
In addition to presenting and analyzing the anthropomorphic representations found in Tell Mozan's excavations, this research opens another window into Urkesh society, by presenting and analyzing the jewelry items found on the site itself and the ones represented on the anthropomorphic clay figurines, as they indicated and emphasized furthermore the importance of these representation, and the great significance that jewelry held for the ancients.
My intention in this research goes beyond adding new information in terms of the archaeological record and the field of material culture studies. My intentions were to investigate these artifacts in relationship to the Hurrian culture as a whole. this cultural frame was greatly considered in the interpretation of these finds. The geographical, political, and cultural aspects of Hurrian Urkesh are intertwined elements that shaped the city and helped in shaping the perception behind the production of artifacts. This cohesiveness gave rise to a distinct civilization, a distinctiveness that is reflected in much of the material culture previously studied. Through this study, I wanted to explore the effect that the Hurrian ethnicity and identity had on this type of material culture and how much restraints and freedoms this ethnic affiliation had imposed on the perception of the artists and craftsperson, and how clearly it is reflected in the art of anthropomorphic representation and jewelry making.
The final results of this work conclude that we might be able to trace some regional patters in this type of material culture, without being able to conclusively identify an indigenous style, at least not until more items of this type are discovered in Urkesh [Author's abstract].
A PDF of the abstract, including a ToC, is available here.
The same author also contributed with the following paper, reported on E–Library: Project Publications: Articles: Mahmoud, Y. 2019.
[mDP – November 2021]
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Mobilising Syrian Cultural Heritage:
making change towards social and cultural inclusion and integration.
A Meta-Frame Analysis of Two Case Studies:
The Case of Mozan, Syria: 2010-2016.
The Case of Über den Tellerrand, Germany: 2016-2018.
Following the ten years of devastating conflict in Syria, Syrians in their homeland and in diaspora are in dire need of every effort to bring them together and enable them to adapt to their new communities. Syria's rich and diverse heritage has the power to shape the future of Syrian society towards further inclusivity and lead to open relationships between Syria and the world based on mutual respect and understanding. This thesis aims to position cultural heritage, in both tangible and intangible forms, as a vehicle of soft power to make social and cultural change in diverse communities more inclusive and integrated by creating new ties, or empowering existing social and cultural bonds between people on a foundation of mutual understanding, respect, and trust.
To examine the scale of social and cultural change, this research examines cultural heritage from its functional view as a social construct and adopts a theory of change as a methodological approach to investigate the necessary indicators and preconditions to reach social and cultural inclusion and integration. Two embodied and explanatory cases studies have been conducted in Syria and in Germany to examine the contributions of two different forms of cultural heritage and discuss the qualitative findings of the open ended and in-depth interviews. Through a meta-frame analysis, this examination aims to create a narrative link between theories and empirical data in order to ascertain the credibility of the data collected, and the validity of the theories applied.
The results reveal that using cultural heritage as a soft power vehicle can aid and build the mutual understanding, trust, and respect required to develop sustainable ties between people, and encourage further participation, however, proper partnership requires consistent long-term commitment. I discuss the limitations of using cultural heritage as a vehicle for social cohesion and inclusion, and indicate further the required conditions, namely a consistency of approach, to offer a model for the development of a theory of change, and a new qualitative evaluation of the impact of cultural heritage. [Author's abstract].
A PDF of the abstract of the dissertation is available here.
[mDP – December 2021]
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Vorarbeiten zu einer Typologie der Keramik der Perioden Früh-Ğazira II bis IV von Tall Mozan, Bereiche B6 und C2.
PhD dissertation, Faculty of Philosophy.
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.
Prof. P. Pfälzner, Thesis Supervisor.
During the last three decades, many archaeological sites were intensively excavated at the Jazirah region, but in spite of this fact the relative chronology is still in the process of satisfactory refinement. The lack of ceramic final publications or even detailed typological ceramic studies hindered the comparative ceramic studies and geographical distribution of ceramic forms and wares within this region.
Tell Mozan, ancient Urkesh, is the material source of the current study, which represented a major urban city centre in Jazirah region during the Early Bronze Age. The present research follows the Jazirah terminological system and bases on the early Jazirah ceramic of the time span between 2600-2100 B. C. (including FGII, FGIIIa, FGIIIb and FGIV) from three seasons of german excavations at the upper Mound at Tell Mozan during 1999-2001. The excavated area of FGII period is very restricted, while the ceramic context of FGIIIa and FGIIIb reflects outside yards for household activities and the stratigraphy of the FGIV period represents a residential quarter.
The applied method of this research depends not only on a detailed description of both form and ware of diagnostic sherds but also on applying a statistical analysis at the form and ware of the total of 13150 diagnostic sherds and then evaluating the data.
The main objective of this study is to determine the major relative chronological indicators, defining each period at this time span by the most important indicators as follows:
- Despite the limited retrieved number of FGII period ceramic the incised-excised Nineveh V decoration and the bases of Nineveh V cups characterise this period.
- The material of FGIIIa period is generally classified by the fine green wares and distinguished pointed rim and rounded base bowls, flourishing of s-shape bowls and spouted jars.
- Few forms can be indicators of the FGIIIb such as: squared rim bowls, oval shape bowls, a form of carinated bowl and an increasing number of small flat bases, but the majority of the forms are either continuation of the FGIIIa forms or proto type of the FGIV forms. Therefore comparison of this material with others at this region can be more decisive for the existence FGIIIb period.
- In the FGIV period the ceramic is generally classified by the coarse buff wares, is distinguished by dark-rimmed orange bowls, splayed out or thickened rims bowls, elongated v-shaped cups, sieves and rope moulding decoration [Author's abstract].
A PDF of the thesis is available here.
[mDP – July 2022]
Three–Dimensional Volumetric Analysis in an Archaeological Context.
Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.
Prof. Jan–Waalke Meyer, Thesis Supervisor.
Later published as UMS 6 [see this link for a summary and brief bio–profile of the author (by L. Recht); cf. here for the table of contents].
See full text
The volume [the author refers here to UMS 6] is the final publication of the Royal Palace of Urkesh, built around 2250 BC. Besides offering a detailed architectural analysis of the structure, it deals extensively with methodology as a way to draw significant conclusions about the economy and the social setting that made its construction possible. The analysis in chapters 2 and 6 is a major contribution to our understanding of the public buildings of ancient Urkesh, and of palaces from this region and time period. As a part of this analysis the proportion of perimeter to area was used to support typological definitions of rooms and an access analysis were used. These methods are seldom (if ever) used in the field, but show promise within the framework of architectural analysis. A second portion of the dissertation focuses on an understanding of the process of construction, combining data from the archaeological record, ethnographic parallels and textual evidence. This approach gives a deep understanding of the process of construction in general, as well as giving a series of 'algorithms' I developed from several sources (archaeological record, experimental archaeology, anthropological studies, textual sources) by which one can quantify the energy invested in the construction project. These algorithms are applicable in general to structures in stone and mudbrick, and as such can be used to define and compare the 'cost' and value of such structures in a meaningful way. This proposes an objective standard of measurement that can be used not only in archaeological, but also in an ethnographic context. The theoretical considerations brought up in chapter 4 introduce aspects of theory which can be tied to the data presented in this study. Such a link between theory and data is fundamental, and strengthens the understanding of both. One strength of the dissertation lies in the direct tie between the archaeological record and a discussion of more abstract concepts such as 'monumentality' and 'prestige'. The dissertation then presents a 3D model of the AP Palace at Tell Mozan, done not as an aesthetically appealing product, but as an organic research tool which can adapt to a changing archaeological reality as well as be a heuristic model. Such a model, done 'for archaeologists, by archaeologists', is a versatile tool for archaeology, and has real benefit in both formulating and answering research questions, both in the course of fieldwork as well as in secondary analyses. This 3D model is a telling example of how such a model can contribute to reaching the research goals. The methodological approach to architectural analysis done hand in hand with ethnographic data and combined with 3D modeling techniques allows for the application of the general algorithms gained in the third chapter to the specific volumetrics of the Urkesh Palace. Such an approach allows archaeologists to better understand concepts such as the value of materials in architecture as related to studies of energetics; an approach which highlights both the individuality of this structure while placing it in a number of very interesting contexts, such as other Mesopotamian monumental structures or palaces from other cultural contexts [Author's abstract, available on Academia.org, on author's personal profile].
The same author also contributed with the following papers, reported on E–Library: Project Publications: Articles: Buccellati, F. 1998; Buccellati, F. 2001; Buccellati, F. 2010; Buccellati, F. 2012; Buccellati, F. 2014a; Buccellati, F. 2014b and Buccellati, F. et al. 2005.
[mDP – October 2019]
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||Caitlin J. Chaves Yates
Beyond the Mound: Locating Complexity in Northern Mesopotamia during the 'Second Urban Revolution'.
Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Boston University, Department of Archaeolgy.
Prof. Chris Roosevelt, Thesis Supervisor.
Boston University Libraries. Open BU
See full text
In this dissertation, I investigate the organization of urban activities in Early Bronze Age cities of Northern Mesopotamia. I combine evidence from archaeological survey, magnetometric studies, and excavations to demonstrate that cities were broadly integrated in terms of function and use of space: inhabitants in outer cities, lower towns, and extramural areas all pursued a range of diverse activities. The organization of urban life in Northern Mesopotamia is best described as 'distributed,' a conclusion at odds with the prevailing belief that public institutions were concentrated in city centers and outer city areas were solely residential. I analyze new excavations and surveys from two major cities – Tell Mozan and Tell Chuera – and compare those remains with information from other excavated cities across third–millennium BCE Northern Mesopotamia. I identify nine individual components of urbanism within third–millennium cities: city walls, water resources, roads and streets, agricultural and pastoral land, houses, workshops, temples and shrines, burials, and administrative buildings. The spatial distribution suggests regular correlations between certain components, particularly houses/workshops, houses/burials, city walls/administrative buildings, and extramural workshops/roads. This overall pattern reveals multifunctional neighborhoods with a range of ceremonial, domestic, and production–related activities situated within the stable boundaries of city walls, water courses, and major roads. Single–function areas often occur alongside other activity or mixed–use areas. I found the distribution of activities to be similar across cities, despite variations in overall layout and size. Widespread co–occurrence, especially of houses and workshops, indicates a kind of 'dual economy' of elite and non–elite production, with lower–class inhabitants producing their own lithics, ceramics, and agricultural/pastoral products. Furthermore, although large temples and palaces are located in city centers, the existence of smaller shrines and non–domestic buildings in lower towns indicates that religious and administrative functions also occurred beyond the city center. The surveys and excavations illuminate two important patterns: first, that administrative, productive, and religious activities took place throughout the city; and second, that social rank did not preclude the pursuit of a range of activities. The stability afforded by this broadly integrated organization and heterarchical social organization may have been instrumental in a city's longevity [Author's abstract].
The thesis consists of seven chapters and six appendices, as follows:
The buch structures through the following chapters:
2. Archaeology of Urbanism
3. Northern Mesopotamian Cities of the Second Urban Revolution
4. The Outer City of Tell Mozan: Urbanism off the Central Mound
[see The Record: Outer City]
5. An Extramural Work Area at Tell Chuera: Urbanism Beyond the Walls
6. A Modular Approach to SUR Urbanism
7. Distributed Urbanism: A Model for Urbanism during the SUR
A. Thompson–Miragliuolo Survey Sherd Data
B. Thompson–Miragliuolo Survey Small Finds
C. ASA Small Finds
D. ASA Features
E. Area ASA Plans
F. ASA Section Drawings
Of the same author: see E–Library: Project Publications: Articles (Chaves Yates 2014).
[mDP – October 2019]
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Sacrifice in the Bronze Age Aegean and Near East. A Poststructuralist Approach.
Thesis submitted to the Trinity College, Dublin in Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor in Philosophy. 3 vols.
Dr. Christine Morris, Thesis Supervisor.
See full text
The goal of this study is a better understanding of the practice of 'sacrifice' in the Bronze Age Aegean and Near East. This includes animal and human sacrifice, but not inanimate offerings. This has been done through collection and analysis of 'primary' material from all types of sources and data in order to gain as complete an understanding as possible: archaeological, iconographic and textual material. Electronic databases have been created, and the material has all been entered into these, which thus form the basis for further analyses, statistics and conclusions. These databases, both in their printed form as appendices, and as attached electronic (interactive) versions, are a substantial part of this thesis. They bring together all the known evidence for animal and human sacrifice from the two geographical areas, from the three different types of material. Further, they can be used independent of the main text of the study: the reader can make their own searches, conclusions and use the many references to gain further information on a specific archaeological site, object or tablet. The study of sacrifice has a very long history, and another major goal of this study has been to explore how this history influences the way the material is interpreted and what kind of assumptions lie behind specific interpretations. In order to reveal such influences and assumptions, a poststructuralist approach is applied. This means not only a discussion of some of the theories concerning sacrifice, beginning with Edward Tylor and ending with Nancy Jay, but also a careful reading of the modern texts of archaeologists and scholars. Through this approach, assumptions and hierarchical binary oppositions which are often based on modern perceptions rather than the ancient material, are uncovered and discussed. Specific poststructuralist ideas from the works of René Girard and Jean Baudrillard, are also applied to certain features of the material, suggesting new avenues of interpretation. More than anything, the material suggests that sacrifice was part of a great variety of rituals, performed for many different purposes – these include religious festivals and feasting, divination, treaties, the construction, reconstruction and destruction of buildings, and, not least, rituals associated with burials and the dead. The rituals involve many different species of animals, with sheep/goats emerging as the most commonly sacrificed animals. The treatment of sacrificed animals and humans also indicate great variety, perhaps based on species or the kind of ritual that the sacrifice was part of. Equids, dogs and humans, in particular, were often sacrificed whole, while in other instances, the head of the sacrificed animal appears to have had special importance. In modern interpretations, there is a tendency to view the material either in light of later, better known practices (such as those of later Greece or those known from the Bible) or of modern perceptions of social structures. Hierarchical oppositions, with one side being valued higher than the other, can be detected in some interpretations, based on such notions as burnt – unburnt, whole – partial, life – death, animal – human, and male – female. Without a basis in the primary material, such oppositions can lead to serious misunderstandings of ancient practices, and it is hoped that this study creates an increased awareness not only of the assumptions we bring to the material, but also of the way in which they colour our interpretations. Lastly, the application of Baudrillard's analysis of the relationship between the living and the dead to sacrifice in mortuary contexts, and of Girard's notions of the double to the many occurrences of heads, the depiction of frontal heads and the frequent mirroring of animals in images, provide a novel way of 'reading' the material. It should not, however, be seen as a final or as the only way of interpreting these features: clearly, the practice of sacrifice in the Bronze Age Aegean and Near East was too complex for a single, over–arching explanation [Author's summary].
Table of contents of the dissertation:
List of maps, tables and figures
1. Theories of sacrifice
2. Sacrifice in Bronze Age Aegean
3. Sacrifice in the Bronze Age Near East
4. Comparisons and poststructuralism
Explanatory note to the appendices and databases
Appendix A: Aegean Burials
Appendix B: Aegean Sacred Space
Appendix C: Aegean Glyptic
Appendix D: Aegean Iconography
Appendix E: Aegean Texts
Appendix F: Near Eastern Burials
Appendix G: Near Eastern Sacred Space
Appendix H: Near Eastern Glyptic
Appendix I: Near Eastern Iconography
Appendix J: Near Eastern Texts
Attached: Disc with full pdf version and electronic databases
[NB: as for Urkesh, aspects related to the archaeology of the ābi are considered. Only the first volume of the dissertation is here entirely available].
[mDP – October 2019]
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||Ellery Edward Frahm
The Bronze–Age Obsidian Industry at Tell Mozan (Ancient Urkesh), Syria: Redeveloping Electron Microprobe Analysis for 21st–Century Sourcing Research and the Implications for Obsidian Use and Exchange in Northern Mesopotamia after the Neolithic.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Dr. Gilbert B. Tostevin, Thesis Supervisor.
Webpage (University of Minnesota)
See full text (PDF)
See full text (TXT)
Obsidian tools continued to be utilized in Northern Mesopotamia well beyond the introduction of metal but have received little archaeological attention. It is widely held that obsidian sourcing can offer little new information during a period in which there is a variety of artifacts and texts available to study. Obsidian, though, is unparalleled in its widespread use and ability to be sourced, so it provides unique information about contact, exchange, and migration. Its sourcing can complement other types of information and be used to test existing hypotheses. Before the recent excavations at Tell Mozan (ancient Urkesh) in northeastern Syria, most of the information about its inhabitants, the Hurrians, was inferred from linguistic or textual evidence. Identifying the sources of their obsidian artifacts can be useful for testing some of the highly debated inferences. The research at hand involved three primary goals. I sought, first, to demonstrate a sophisticated approach to obsidian studies in the Near East and, second, to redevelop an analytical technique –– electron microprobe analysis –– for sourcing obsidian. Therefore, I assembled and analyzed a reference collection of over 900 geological obsidian specimens from dozens of sources in Turkey as well as Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. I sourced a large number of artifacts (n = 97) so that I could explore spatial and temporal patterns on a site level. In addition, this analytical technique, if applied critically, can (i) control for obsidian as a mixture, (ii) measure artifacts non–destructively, and (iii) discern two chemically similar obsidian sources: Nemrut Daǧ and Bingöl A. Thus, based on my results, I not only differentiate these obsidians but also pinpoint the collection loci, down to a kilometer, of the Nemrut Daǧ obsidians found at Tell Mozan. My third goal involved identifying the sources of obsidian represented among the Bronze–Age artifacts at Tell Mozan. These results were, in turn, used to explore temporal and spatial patterns of the obsidian sources used at the site, consider broader implications for obsidian use in Bronze–Age Mesopotamia, and examine two issues regarding Urkesh and its Hurrian inhabitants. The overall similarities for two site areas suggest that people living in various parts of Urkesh had similar access to the same obsidian sources. On the other hand, all the sourced obsidian from the temple came from one flow at Nemrut Daǧ, and a service courtyard of the palace contains the only Cappadocian obsidian. In fact, the greatest variety of sources is found in units containing palace courtyards. Regarding the broader implications, there is evidence at Tell Mozan of production of prismatic obsidian blades and bladelets (e.g, flakes with cortex, cores, and early–series blades), suggesting they were not imported from a production center. In addition, there is a prevailing assumption that, if Bingöl B obsidian is found at a site, one can presume that all of the peralkaline obsidian artifacts came from Bingöl A, not Nemrut Daǧ. My results reveal that this assumption, based on maximal efficiency, is specious. The hypothesis of a Hurrian 'homeland' as far northeast as Armenia (or beyond) is considered –– but not supported –– in light of my obsidian data. There are no obsidians from northeastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, or Russia that would point to a link to those regions. The atypical variety of obsidian sources at the site suggests that the city may have had a mountainous hinterland to the north. When compared to the existing data for other Khabur Triangle sites, my results support a possible exchange link between Tell Mozan and Tell Brak, perhaps as part of an early Hurrian kingdom [Author's abstract].
The dissertation displays the following chapters:
PART I: Foundations and Problems
1. Obsidian: Its Origins, Sourcing, and Issues
2. Obsidian in the Near East: State of Knowledge
3. Tell Mozan, Urkesh, and the Hurrians
PART II: Methods for Sourcing and Their Evaluation
4. The Geological Reference Collection and Artifacts
5. Redeveloping EMPA for Obsidian Sourcing
6. Evualuating the Analytical Procedures and Source Assignment Methods
PART III: Results and Implications
7. The Bronze–Age Obsidian Artifacts of Tell Mozan and Their Sources
8. Implications for Northern Mesopotamia and the Near East
9. Implications for Urkesh and the Hurrians [see Urkesh and the Hurrians]
A. Obsidian Sources in the Near East
B. Obsidian and Chert Blade–Tools from Tell Mozan by Site Unit
C. Electron Microprobe Analysis Data of Specimens and Artifacts
D. Source Assignments based on Euclidean Distances
On this topic, cf. also papers of the same author at E–Library: Project Publications: Articles (specifically, Frahm 2014, Frahm and Feinberg 2013a, and Frahm and Feinberg 2013b).
[mDP – October 2019]
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Stratigraphic Analysis of the Unit A9 Excavations at Tell Mozan, Syria.
A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School, University of Missouri, Columbia in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts.
Dr. Ralph Rowlett, Thesis Supervisor.
Tell Mozan, a large mound located in northeastern Syria, was formed by the ruins of a succession of ancient cities. Despite its prominent place in the regional landscape, archaeological excavations were only initiated there 15 years ago. After a series of exploratory soundings, work has recently focused on the ruins of an Early Bronze Age palace. The data from A9 [within Palace AP – mDP], an excavation unit which includes most of an early step trench which explored the mound which overlays the palace, has the potential to contribute to the understanding of how Tell Mozan evolved. Even though the data were recorded in somewhat different formats, it was possible to assemble and order it by the use of sketches made from the narrative descriptions provided by the supervisors and the sorting capabilities provided by computer database programs. Once the relative relationships of each stratigraphic element were determined their overall relationship was analyzed by the use of the Harris Matrix. In the absence of complete ceramics analysis to provide an absolute reference in time, artifacts found in the excavation and thought to be stylistically unique were analyzed to determine the approximate period of their manufacture. The results from this analysis indicated that Tell Mozan was continuously and actively settled by a large population from the Middle Akkadian Period through the Mitanni Period, subsuming 800 years. A seal from Jemdet Nasr Period may indicate the city developed much earlier [Author's abstract].
The book structures through the following chapters:
2. Developmental Cultural Context
3. Development of Tell Mozan
4. Pisé Construction
5. Urkesh Global Record [see UGR]
6. Stratigraphic Analysis
7. Description of Architecture
8. Analysis of Periodization [see Chronology]
9. Stratigraphic Assignments
1. Exemplar of field inputs to Tell Mozan Global Record
2. Harris Matrices for each excavated locus in A9
[mDP – October 2019]
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