Tell Atchana/Alalakh
The 2004 Excavation Season











Excavations in 2004 concentrated on the craft workshop quarters located in Areas 2 and 3 which had initially been exposed in 2003. In order to speed up the processing of the earlier finds a study season was scheduled and only a total of 100 square meters were exposed. This would enable us a broad horizontal exposure of Late Bronze Age (c. 13th century BC) neighborhoods at the eastern side of the site (Fig. 1).

Fig 1: Area 2-3, The East Wing/ Photo by Murat Akar Fig 2: The Kiln in Square 44.80/ Photo by Murat Akar

One of the surprises during the first season was a very impressive, multi-chambered kiln suggesting the use of this part of the mound as a craft sector rather than the habitation areas we had anticipated. In fact by the 2004 season, the complex, two storey kiln became a harbinger of several more pyrotechnological installations which lined the south east slope of the mound. Representing a diversity of shapes, sizes and materials these structures all had differing "furniture" that is, internal components perhaps indicating a variety of thermal functions. One impressive square kiln (Fig. 2) had 12 hot air flues leading to the lower chamber, while others were oval and contained only one chamber.

In the hopes of understanding the function of these installations, samples were collected from the kiln linings and other vitrified materials. Scattered throughout the area were vitrified slag globules, ash, and other evidence of high temperature events such as crumbly, brittle, reddish-yellow clay components of the kilns. Preliminary analyses of these materials revealed that they may represent the product of silica encountering high temperatures. While some vitrified slag had not reached a liquefied state needed to make glass, the possibility exists that they may be the remnants of a frit batch mixed prior to the addition of alkali flux in a two-step glass-making process. Even if further analyses indicates that they are an accidental formation or even more important, prove to be the outcome of an intentional process for making faience or glass, it is important to note the knowledge and control necessary to achieve and maintain such a high thermal event.

Stratigraphically the kilns were cut into thick mudbrick walls of multi-roomed buildings dating to the LBA, and thus clearly postdated the large mudbrick walls of our Phase 2 . It became obvious that at one point in the LBA, this area was abandoned to habitation and used for the specialized production of pottery or other crafts and burials. Red burnished pitchers with parallels to Woolley's Level IV and Tell Brak Mittanian levels, "Nuzi Ware" examples as well as Mittanian sealings tentatively suggest a 14/15th century BC date for these floors. Aegean specialist Robert Koehl confirs that none of the Aegean wares post date Late Mycenaean IIA2.

Interestingly, excavations are rapidly changing our view of Alalakh from that of an important LBA site within the Hittite Empire's realm to one of an even more important Middle Bronze Age site of considerable size and strategic placement. In the 17th century BC Alalakh was apparently a prosperous city along the Orontes River, straddling the trade routes between Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and the Mediterranean Sea. The artifacts found at Alalakh are examples of high culture, and as such, one might expect them to have been produced by specialists, or craftspersons working to produce particular goods, usually so-called high-prestige or valuable objects, for restricted distribution. Indeed, Woolley identified numerous workshops and servants quarters in the palace. Our previous excavations have found a workshop with a MBA horseshoe shaped hearth, and the possibility of an earlier pyrotechnological installation in Area 3-a harbinger of the above later mid second millennium craft sector of multiple installations in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Furthermore, this year, glimpses of the Middle Bronze Age city include several examples of "Syro-Cilician" Ware specifically with painted designs, basket handles and applique decoration. Parallels of this ware range from our neighboring excavations at Kinet Höyük on the Mediterranean coast, to Cilicia (Tarsus) and the well-known princess tomb at Ebla all of which demonstrate the extent of these cultural ties.

Fig 3-4: The burial excavated in Square 44.80 by Alexis Boutin/Photos by Murat Akar


Lying in a northeast-southwest position, an imported painted Cypriot Base Ring Ware II juglet was found as a grave gift, which is slightly later than the one excavated in the plastered tomb (03-3017) with multiple interments from 2003. Now that the human remains have been given a preliminary analyses by our mortuary data team leader Alexis Boutin, we can say that the special tomb contained the skeletal remains of a 24-29 year old female, a 13-17 year old female, a 35-50 year old male, and a 15-22 year old female.

The 2004 Tell Atchana/Alalakh team members consist of the following participants: K. Aslihan Yener, director; David Schloen, associate director, Amir Sumaka'i-Fink, senior field supervisor; Sabrina Sholts, Jacob Lauinger, G. Bike Yazicioglu, Virginia Rimmer (The University of Chicago); James Phillips (University of Illinois at Chicago), Hatice Pamir, Can Ercan, (Mustafa Kemal University, Antakya); Stine Rossel (Harvard University); Susan Helft, Alexis Boutin, (University of Pennsylvania); Murat Akar, Tugrul Cakar (Middle East Technical University, Ankara); Simone Riehl, Katrine Hieke, Özgür Cizer (Tübingen University); Brenda Craddock, Franca Cole, (U.K.), Ayse Bal, Yagmur Sarioglu (Bilkent University, Ankara), Niels Lynnerup, Marie-Louise Jorkov (Copenhagen University), Irit Ziffer (Israel), Hanan Charaf, Robert Mullins(Beirut), Simone Arnhold (Marburg University), Ekin Kozal (Canakkale University), Robert Koehl, (New York Hunter College) and a labor force of 13 from local villages. The ministry representative from the Antalya Archaeological Museum was Akan Atilla.