Tell Atchana/Alalakh
The 2006 Excavation Season











The 2006 excavations were conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and the Mustafa Kemal University in Antakya. The main thrust of the season was to continue excavations in the royal precinct sector on the northern tip of the mound previously exposed by Woolley, as well as to initiate squares in the southern end of the site. The aims in the royal precinct were to resolve on-going issues of Mediterranean chronologies by fine-tuning the stratigraphic sequence of Alalakh. The method selected was to situate five squares aligned in an EW direction, cross cutting Woolley’s excavation trench. These strategically placed and stratigraphically excavated squares will enable us to obtain a seamless connection with each other thus producing a profile of the trench.

Fig 1: E-W profile square across Woolley's Palace Precinct

The resulting stratigraphy from each square would establish a ceramic sequence and radiocarbon dating sampling columns. In the effort of creating an independent phasing sequence, special attention was given to local ceramics, which in turn would be calibrated firmly into stratigraphic relationships. Imported ceramics such as Aegean, Mesopotamian, and Hittite wares have not been used to derive chronologies, but the nature of their presence will be carefully researched once the local sequences are established. Ultimately the newly established phasing will be coordinated with Woolley’s levels as published in 1955.

Area 1 Square 32.53, 32.63 and step trench 32.54 were placed to determine the relationship of the Level IV/V “Serai Gate” walls to the Level III/II so-called “Fortress” or the Hittite Palace on top of the mound. Exposures revealed a series of substantial, mud brick wall foundations giving us details of the layout and construction of the walls. The evidence supports the plan published by Woolley, including the “v” shaped foundation trenches, and indicates a casement technique of construction. The wall foundations alternated with rectangular ‘boxes’ filled largely with mud brick rubble. After several meters of carefully laid mud brick, it became evident that what appeared to be casemate chambers were actually an artificial platform on top of which may have contained a building, now lost.
Square 32.57 was placed in the courtyard of the Level IV Palace and contained three phases of occupation. A large building emerged in the earliest phase, with a massive SE-NW wall constructed with mud brick tiles measuring 40 x 40 cm and 20 x 40cm. A drain, ran through one of three rooms separated by low divider walls. Two ovens were partially preserved in this earliest phase.
The next phase represented a renovation and alteration of the building which was modified with an addition of mud brick courses. West of the wall, a large outdoor space contained a dump (trash) zone and several large storage silos. Several fragments of seal impressions were found here one of which depicted the motif of a smiting god facing down a winged, bird headed demon. Dominique Collon noted that this cylinder seal interestingly was used a generation later since it was also impressed on a tablet from the Level IV palace. East of the wall a kitchen emerged containing several domed hearths, ovens and signs of cooking activities. A high concentration of burnt olive pits yielded a bi-conical, impressed jar stopper which resembles a large olive pit itself.













Fig 2: Square 32.57/Level IV Courtyard Sounding Phase 2as

Fig 3: Bulla found in the burnt ash lenses in Room 7.

The latest phase represents the topsoil that is, the uppermost strata is contemporary to Woolley’s Level IV Palace courtyard.

Area 4 Squares 64.82, 64.72. The targeted southern exposures addressed the issue of site size and whether the whole site was occupied throughout the Late Bronze Age. In 2000-2001 two intensive surface surveys had revealed denser concentrations of sherds and burnt mud bricks on a rise on the southern end of the mound. Two new squares were placed in this strategic spot facing the gorge from which the Orontes River enters into the Amuq valley.

Fig 4: The Southern Fortress, squares 64.72-64.82

Three phases were identified two of which were modification sub phases of a large, multi-chambered massive mud brick building dating to approximately 14th century BC, tentatively called the “southern fortress”. The building had 11 chambers of varying size, some constructed with casemate-like chambers. This massive building was bounded on the west by a street. Another wall on the opposite side of the street may be the mud brick foundation of a possible outer circuit wall. Finds from the street include local wares, a Vaphio cup fragment, a beautiful Mycenaen Chariot Krater painted with a bull leaping scene dated according to Aegean chronologies to the LB II (LH IIIA), possibly the 1300’s.

Fig 5: examples of Local Wares from Southern Fortress.


Acknowledgements: The 2006 Tell Atchana/Alalakh staff included the following people:

K.Aslihan Yener(Director) Dominique Collon,Robert Koehl,Demir Altiner,Vedat Toprak,Omer Yilmaz,Nurettin Kaymakci,Murat Akar,Robert Mullins,Bike Yazicioglu,Stephen Batiuk,Ekin Demirci,Lee Ullman,Ozgecan Yarma, Simon Timberlake,Ferhat Can,Can Ercan, Meltem Cakmak,Burhan Can,Hulya Kardes,Cihat Topal, Yagmur Sarioglu, Nurettin Bataray, Pinar Ertepinar Kaymakci, Franca Cole, Brenda Craddock, Phill Andrews, Hatice Pamir ,Tulin Tümay ,Anthony Dean ,Lawrie Dean and Unal Demirer as the Ministry Representative.