Tell Atchana/Alalakh
The 2007 Excavation Season












The fourth season of excavations at Alalakh (Tell Atchana) took place from July 15-September 15, 2007 and was directed by K. Aslihan Yener, with Senior Field Supervisor, Murat Akar. The site is located twenty kilometers east of Antakya (classical Antioch) in the Amuq valley region of southern Turkey. The excavations were conducted under the auspices and sponsorship of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and the Mustafa Kemal University in Antakya.

Nine 10-meter by 10-meter squares were opened for an exposure of approximately 900 meters square. The 2007 season returned to three important sectors. The first was the large Southern Fortress that yielded most of the Mycenaean ceramics, especially fragments of a krater decorated with a bull-leaping scene in 2006. This season several more sherds were found painted with spotted bulls. One fit into the 2006 find and a second fragment may belong to a separate, similar krater.

The second area investigated was the northern sector, Royal Precinct Area 1, which had previously been excavated by the Yener expedition in 2003, 2006 and 2007. Four squares have continued the deep soundings and are descending into the early second millennium BC levels. The Northern Fortress was excavated down to floor levels while the sounding in the courtyard of the Level IV Palace was continued into the early LBA levels (Woolley’s Level VI). One new sounding in 2007 was placed in the Level VII Palace courtyard which will continue to descend into Middle Bronze Age levels. Several tablets in envelopes were found on the scorched floor. One was a legal text with 17 names of witnesses which were identified by epigrapher, Jake Lauinger to date to Level VII. From the massive size of the stone walls in Phase 3, it is obvious that a monumental building predating Level VII was situated here.

The third area, on the slope of the mound in Area 3, investigated the dwellings at the edge of the mound and the necropolis previously excavated in 2003 and 2004.

Excavation Areas

Area 1
1. Squares 32.52, 32.53 and 32. 54 continued excavations at the massive mudbrick building, the Level II/III “Fortress”, exposed in 2003, 2006 and 2007. This administrative building had been constructed in the style of Hittite palace architecture. Especially striking were the use of casemate units in the construction of the walls. The 2007 season revealed several floor levels in some of the rooms and the aims for the 2008 season are to remove this phase and excavate down to the Level IV strata. This will enable us to obtain a stratified sequence from Levels II-IV.

Fig 1: Squares The Hittite Fortress.

Fig 2: Clay bulla from the Hittite Fortress

2. Square 32.57 was situated in the courtyard of the Level IV Palace and was excavated during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. So far, Phases 1, 2a, 2b, 2c and 3 have been identified yielding several subphases of the Late Bronze Age. Radiocarbon dates for Phase 2a obtained from two olive seeds yielded calibrated dates of 1518-1411 BC. The general architectural plan for Phase 2 in all subphases has revealed a main NW-SE wall cross-cutting the square, a main room with a well-preserved and sealed floor in the east, a small room in the northern extension, and a partially roofed or outdoor area in the west with subsidiary rooms, workshop or refuse areas. In 2007 the excavations furthered work in Phases 2b, 2c, and 3.

Fig 3: Square 32.57. The level IV palace courtyard.

3. Square 33.32. A new sounding was placed in the courtyard (Room 9) of the previously excavated Level VII Palace in order to derive a stratigraphic sequence. After half a century of abandonment the accumulated debris was cleaned out in the square. A badly burnt floor full of ash and charcoal was uncovered with evidence of intense heat possibly generated by the extensive use of wood in the architecture. One tablet was found in situ on this burnt surface with its burnt envelope facing up. Only one side of the tablet was legible, the other side (perhaps its envelope) was fused and vitrified beyond recognition. Other tablet-like fragments set within vitrified envelopes were found, but none with legible inscriptions.

Excavation revealed massive stone foundations dating to a lower phase. Several walls could be identified amongst the surrounding rubble stones. It appears that after the destruction of this phase (which tentatively corresponds to Woolley’s Level VIII), the area was possibly filled in and covered with stone slabs to level it for the construction of the subsequent Level VII courtyard. The entire plan of this massive structure is yet to be clarified as the excavations in this square continue in the following season. It is already clear, however, that an earlier massive palatial structure existed below the Level VII palace.

Fig 4: Square 33.32. The level VII Palace Courtyard.

Fig 5: Tablet from Level VII courtyard.

Area 3

Square 45.44. The main objectives in this area were to understand the stratigraphy of the mound along the eastern slope, to search for a possible fortification wall running along the side of the slope, and to investigate a continuation of the necropolis located during the nearby 2003 excavations. A total of 4 phases of occupation, numbered from the higher elevations down, were excavated within the square, all entirely within the western sideof the square; a possible intact surface was found on the eastern side only during the last week of excavations.

Fig 6: Square 45.44. Fig 7: Burials

Area 4

Squares 64.94, 64.84, 64.73, and 64. 83. Four squares were placed on the rise located at the southwestern part of the site, horizontally expanding the excavation of the large mudbrick building called the “Southern Fortress,” dating to approximately 15th century BC. As noted above, most of the Mycenaean ceramics were found in and around this building. The targeted southern exposures will address questions about Alalakh’s socioeconomic structure as well as the issue of site size.

Fig 8:The Southern Fortress


Fig 9: Bull leaping scene on Mycenean Krater.

Tayfur Sökmen Dig House Compound

Several restoration projects focused on the construction of buildings in the dig house complex. The first was the completion of a laboratory building. On September 4, 2006 a new building, generously funded by the Dean family, was officially opened for use. Housing a Conservation Laboratory and rooms dedicated to other technical studies, the building answered the demand for specialist studies on site.

A third building, completed in 2007, was a major depot building which will house the Alalakh excavated study collections. Another smaller unit (nicknamed the mud house), constructed with wattle and daub techniques, was intended to test the usefulness of traditional building materials. Not only was the structure built at a minimum expense, but the temperature advantages make it useful as a computer center.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the following 2007Tell Atchana/Alalakh staff who included the following people:

K. Aslihan Yener (Director), Dominique Collon, Robert Ritner, Robert Koehl, Mara Horowitz, Vedat Toprak, Nurettin Kaymakci, Murat Akar, Bike Yazicioglu, Ekin Demirci, Ozgecan Yarma, Ferhat Can, Meltem Cakmak, Burhan Can, Nurettin Bataray, Pinar Ertepinar Kaymakci, Brenda Craddock, Stephanie Selover, Buket Aladag, Derya Silibolatlaz, Canan Cakirlar, Remi Berthon, Pinar Durgun, Erkan Konyar, Cosku Kocabiyik, Onur Akseven, Dogan Askar, Gokcen Kunter, Kaan Ozdemir, Ibrahim Yilmaz, Yasmine El-Gabani, Brian Kunckle, Luca Tepedino, Michelle Ruggenbucke, Polly Westlake, Riza Gurler, Armagan Tan, Isil Celik, Tugba Soydan, Hatice Pamir, Tulin Tümay, Anthony Dean, and Lawrie Dean. We were ably served by Yusuf Altin and Murat Kirbas as the Ministry Representatives.