Zincirli Höyük is located in southeastern Turkey, in the İslahiye Valley on the eastern slope of the Amanus mountains, 30 kms north of the Syrian border. It is one of the earliest excavations in the Near East, since the German expedition of the Orient-Comité revealed between 1888 and 1902 the imposing remains of the Iron Age capital of the Aramaean kingdom of Sam’al. Since 2006 new excavations by the Universities of Chicago and Tübingen are reassessing the knowledge of the Iron Age town, exploring for the first time the underlying Bronze Age settlement.

Excavations in Area 2 are revealing a complex of buildings dated to the Middle Bronze Age, with an extremely rich inventory of ceramics left in situ after a violent destruction. The excellent state of preservation of the materials offers a unique chance to investigate this period within a broader regional perspective. The ceramic assemblage is dated to the MB II (1800-1600 B.C) and is composed by fine and painted wares, as well as kitchen, simple and storage wares. Some remarkable shapes of painted pottery such as globular flasks were probably related to wine transportation and consumption, showing how Zincirli in the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C. was part of the complex network of exchanges stretching between Mesopotamia, northern Syria, central Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean coast.

MAT’s generous grant has been extremely significant to cover the expenses of the research team involved in documenting, drawing and studying the large amount of Middle Bronze Age pottery. The grant allowed the work of two pottery specialists and an illustrator in Turkey, in order to prepare the study which is going to be published in the preliminary report on the Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research and presented at the 12th ICAANE in Bologna in April 2020.

Fig. 1. Map of Zincirli showing the ten current excavation areas, with the geomagnetic survey results and the architectural plan made by the German expedition in 1894 both superimposed on a modern satellite image of the site. Elaborated by Jason Herrmann. Courtesy of the Chicago-Tübingen expedition

Fig. 2. Selection of ceramics and small finds found on the floor of Room DD10 of Area 2. Photograph by Roberto Ceccacci. Courtesy of the Chicago-Tübingen expedition

For further information, please contact Dr Sebastiano Soldi, Collections Registrar, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze at sebastiano.soldi@beniculturali.it, or visit his profiles at https://firenze-archeo.academia.edu/SebastianoSoldi or https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sebastiano_Soldi. The University of Chicago’s project website can also be found at https://zincirli.uchicago.edu/.

Articles on Zincirli pottery by Dr Soldi:

  1. “The Iron Age Pottery of Zincirli Höyük: An Assemblage Between Neighbouring Traditions”, Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici Nuova Serie (SMEA NS) 5 (2019), pp. 165-184.
  2. K.R. Morgan, S. Soldi, “Middle Bronze Age Zincirli: An Interim Report on Architecture, Small Finds, and Ceramics from a Monumental Complex of the 17th Century B.C.”, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (submitted July 2019; accepted August 2019; expected 2020).

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