Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 August 2014
In 1999, the joint expedition of the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago initiated excavations and surface reconnaissance at the site of Tell Hamoukar in the northeastern corner of Hassekeh Province (Figs. 1–2). We need to acknowledge, with gratitude, the help and encouragement rendered by Dr Sultan Muhesen, then Director General of Antiquities, and by Sayyid Abdul Messieh Bagdo, of the Antiquities office in Hassekeh.
McGuire Gibson arrived in Damascus on August 24, 1999 and began to implement logistical arrangements with the co-director, Muhammad Maktash. Actual excavation of the site of Hamoukar began on September 9 and ended on October 31.
Hamoukar has been a subject of interest to a number of scholars through the years because of its size and surface pottery, which includes southern Uruk IV types. The presence of even earlier 4th millennium local Late Chalcolithic pottery as well as Ninevite V and mid-3rd millennium types makes the site crucial in addressing a number of important questions. The complexity of settlement in the early 4th millennium, the nature of the Late Uruk occupation and its relation to other sites with similar material in Syria and Turkey, and the history of the site in the Akkadian and post-Akkadian periods can all be elucidated by excavation here.
All members of the team were from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, with the exception of Muhammad Maktash, Abdulillah Salameh, and Mahmoud Kattab from the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities, Dr Amr Al-Azm, an environmental specialist and anthropologist from the University of Damascus; and Dr Judith A. Franke, Director, Dickson Mounds Museum, Illinois.