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Tell Taya (1967): Summary Report

  • J. E. Reade


Work at Tell Taya began on March 16th, 1967, and ended at the beginning of June. The excavations, on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, were concurrent with those directed by Mr. David Oates at Tell al Rimah a few miles away, and the staff, house, and facilities were shared as convenient. Most members of the joint expedition helped at both sites, but I am especially indebted to Mr. Christopher J. Dalley, whose aid with the surveying, photography, and site-supervision was invaluable, and to Mr. Jonathan Hodgkin, who drew much of the pottery; Mr. David Hawkins took charge of one area of the excavations, as well as collaborating with Miss Stephanie Page in the registration of objects. The Directorate-General of Antiquities was represented by Sd. Majid Abdullah who, with other officials of the Iraq government in Tell 'Afar and Baghdad, gave us vital and unfailing assistance. The labour-force consisted of Arab and Turkoman workmen, with Muhammad Khalaf Musla as foreman. The excavations were financed by a generous anonymous donation to the British School for third-millennium research, and I am happy to acknowledge that my own work on this period has been made possible by a grant from the Gerald Averay Wainwright Fund of Oxford University.



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1 Lloyd, S., Iraq 5 (1938), 123128; Oates, D., Iraq 27 (1965), 6268.

2 Op. cit., 134–142.

3 Lloyd, , Iraq 7 (1940), 14, fig. 2. The Tell 'Afar wall is described as probably Late Assyrian in Iraq 27 (1965), 68; but the brickwork looks much earlier, and sherds collected from the roadside include Uruk(?) but no Late Assyrian types. More evidence is needed.

4 See Mallowan, M. E. L., Moortgat Festschrift, 142154, for a succinct account of Ninevite 5 as it is now understood.

5 The Illinois itinerary (principally the addition by Hallo, W. W., JCS 18 (1964), 72, 73, and 83) and ARM V, 43. Hallo's reconstruction of the relevant portion of the itinerary, as Mr. Oates first observed, is incompatible with the terrain west of Mosul. The expedition, after leaving its boats at Ekallatum, must have followed a more direct line towards Apku, along one side of Jebel Qaiyara; the key-site of Zanipa or Salipa, which seems to reappear on the return journey, must therefore have been somewhere south of Apku, definitely not at Eski Mosul. Coming back the expedition perhaps crossed the north of the Sinjar-Tell 'Afar plain; Adu, the stage after Zanipa, can still be near the Tigris, though some may fancy the large Old Babylonian site at Adayya marked on Pl. LXXVII. It is worth repeating that the Tigris route further south, between Assyria and Babylonia, was by no means as convenient as is widely imagined; it was used on this itinerary, but includes natural obstacles which made it, as Nabopolassar discovered in 615, very dangerous against opposition. Armies normally preferred the long way round by Kirkuk, from which Ekallatum is just as accessible as Ashur. ARM V, 43, lists Apku, Zanipa, and Sanduwatum (nearer Ashur) as territories threatened, after Shamshi-Adad's death, by what would seem to be the south-eastwards advance of a Zimri-lim adherent, perhaps the treacherous Bunu-Ishtar. As Apku and Zanipa were both in one province, the latter site was probably also north-east of the hills.

6 Lloyd, S. refers, in Iraq 7 (1940), 18 and 21, to Ninevite 5 sherds from level I at Grai Resh and level II at Khoshi; I have not seen the excavated pottery, and should feel happier about these identifications if either site had any relevant sherds on the surface. The Grai Resh material was all plain; it may therefore be relevant that some plain Ninevite 5 sherds are almost identical with some which we now know to belong in the late third millennium, e.g. the Taya VII type which is illustrated, beside Ninevite 5, as no. 8 in Lloyd's survey-group VIII. There was certainly some occupation, of this or a later date, at Grai Resh. The equivalent is true of Khoshi: the incised sherds on Lloyd's pl. III, fig. 6, look to me like Taya IX, and the fine incised sherds, nos. 2, 10, and 12, in the same survey-group VIII, are Taya IX–VIII types. Partly of course this is a matter of definition; fine and incised wares are now known to have persisted long after Ninevite 5 proper, as stratified at Nineveh, had gone out of fashion.

7 Forrer, E., RLA I, 250; Gadd, C. J., Iraq 4 (1937), 178. Gelb says that the Chagar Bazar tablets are Agade, however (MAD II, 10).

8 Apud Preusser, C., Paläste (WVDOG 66), 12.

9 Gadd, C. J., Iraq 7 (1940), 6061.

10 Hirsch, , AfO 20 (1963), 1619, which omits the Rimush objects published by Mallowan, in Iraq 9 (1947), 107, and Preusser, C., Wohnhäuser (WVDOG 64), 18.

11 Thureau-Dangin, F., RA 9 (1912), 14, and Nougayrol, J., RA 42 (1948), 320.

12 Mallowan, op. cit., 69.

13 Forrer, op. cit., p. 231; apparently from Ishtar Temple E, where the seal-impression of one Izi-Dagan of Mart was also found.

14 Andrae, W., Das archäischer Ischtar Tempel in Assur (WVDOG 39), taf. 5 and 7.

15 Andrae, op. cit., taf. 7 (temple E); Starr, Nuzi, plan 6 (temple G).

16 Starr, op. cit., plan 7 (temple F).

17 Mallowan, M. E. L., Iraq 8 (1946), 118–119 and 134. Mudbrick walls on stone foundations are not in themselves remarkable; stone architecture is bound to be found, at intervals, at all sites, such as Gawra, where there were obvious quarries in the vicinity.

18 Lloyd, S., Iraq 7 (1940) pl. III, fig. 6, nos. 3 and 8.

19 Compare Speiser's remarks in Tepe Gawra I, 5051. See the catalogue for references to the parallels mentioned briefly below.

20 Woolley, C. L., Alalakh, 145150, pl. XXIX.

21 Woolley, C. L., U.E. II, pl. 34.

22 Deshayes, J., Les outils de bronze II, pl. XI, no. 22.Mallowan, M. E. L., Iraq 9 (1947), 166, discusses the burial of bronze objects at Brak.

23 Deshayes, op. cit., pl. XII, no. 17; Deshayes regards most of these objects as Ur III, but they could as easily be Agade too.

24 Not unlike Mallowan, op. cit., pl. XXXIII, nos. 4–9; but the Taya rings widen more before contracting to a point.

25 Including Mallowan, op. cit., pl. XXXIII, no. 22.

26 Mallowan, op. cit., pls. XV, 2, and XXVI, 1.

27 Mallowan, op. cit., pl. XXXI, nos. 1, 2, and 9, as well as 11.

28 Andrae, op. cit., p. 82, abb. 61; the pair on the left of the top right-hand corner.

29 E.g. Speiser, op. cit., pl. XLI.

30 Speiser, op. cit., pp. 69–72, has some pertinent remarks on the introduction of horses.

31 Andrae, op. cit., taf. 53 f.; the Ashur example is painted.

32 E.g. Andrae, op. cit., taf. 12–17. There seems no particular reason to consider that these models represent any building which actually existed.

33 The only other aquatic mammal we may expect in the vicinity is the beaver, which Layard found on the verge of extinction in the Khabur (Nineveh and Babylon, 296); Layard's account of his journey from Nineveh to the Khabur includes the first list of the major sites in the Sinjar-Tell 'Afar plain, and there are many other instructive comments.

34 Or a wolf; see A. H. Layard, op. cit., p. 227.

35 Layard, op. cit., 246.

36 It is generally thought that the Mesopotamian lion died out about fifty years ago, but I believe one was shot in western Khuzestan about 1954.

37 Moortgat, A., Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, 24, figs. 22–26.

38 Moortgat, op. cit., band 7, p. 23, emphasizes this distinction as it appeared to him at Ailun.

39 It may indeed have survived well into Level VI.

40 Mallowan, op. cit., pl. XXXVII, nos. 14 and 16, are not dissimilar; a flint from the topsoil at Taya resembled no. 23.

41 Andrae, op. cit., p. 82, abb. 61. These drawings include a possible scorpion's head pendant and a rough button (type f).

42 Andrae, op. cit., taf. 26 a.

43 Andrae, op. cit., taf. 60.

44 Much like Mallowan, op. cit., pl. XXXVII, no. 4.

45 Oates, J., Iraq 21 (1959), 136.

46 Finkelstein, J., JCS 20 (1966), 108, has Gutian kingdoms in the north.


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