Operation 1

 

Operation 1 is in part a continuation of the excavation carried out by B. Hrouda in 1990 and reopened in 2000 (Hrouda, MDOG 123, 1991; Miglus et al., MDOG 132, 2000). Those works covered an area of about 400 m2, while the present extent of the digs is ca. 1000 m2. The excavation area is situated to the north of W. Andrae’s test trench 9I between the Iraqi excavation area in the central part of the site (Al-Hayani, MDOG 132, 2000) and our area 3.

 The southern part of the area was extended to reach the limit of the former excavation by W. Andrae. Thereby, the outlines of three rooms belonging to one or two Late Assyrian houses excavated in 2000 could be completed. Because the aim in the southern operation area is to penetrate into the Middle Assyrian layers, the walls of the upper Assyrian layer in square E were removed after documentation.

 In the central area of the trench remains of a Parthian grave building, which had been excavated 1990, were removed. Underneath, the continuation of walls of a room  was revealed. In front of a large main room (room 1C1/F2) with three or perhaps four niches, and black and red painted walls, further traces of a colonnaded fa├žade were found – an unusual feature in private houses of Assur.

 To the north and east the old excavation area was extended by three squares of 10 by 10 m. The two northern squares (H and G) delivered interesting results concerning the Late Assyrian living quarters: A large main room (1G1) with a niche in one corner and two entrances consisting of thresholds with rather big stone slabs and coverings for door-sockets was entirely excavated. The two doorways led to another room (1G2) which probably opened onto the street. This street (1H5), which runs from the north-west to the south-east, was blocked in post-Assyrian times with vertically laid mud-bricks, but under it a street level was reached that consists of small stones and sherds. Moreover the upper covering of a sewer became visible. It is very likely that the excavated street area is part of the main street which comes from the Tabira gate, and was found in our operations 2 and 3, as well as by W. Andrae in his test trench farther to the south-east.

 At the south-eastern side of the large main room a small lane (1G3) branches off from the street in south-western direction and leads to the entrance of a house (1B1). In front of this entrance there is again an installation for sewage with a small drainage-way. Just as the street, the lane was also blocked in later times with a similar mud-brick construction.

 On the other side of the street the outlines of four rooms (1H1–1H4) have been discovered. Three of them have an entrance to the street. The most north-western room has a connection to another room. The function of both rooms has not yet been determined. Next to the most north-west room, opening to the street, there is a small room that seems to be isolated. Therefore it might have been a little shop. In the room to the south-east a collection of completely preserved pottery vessels was discovered. They might have fallen from an upper floor.

 The old excavation area was not only extended to the north but also by one square of 10 by 10 m to the east. Stone foundations of one or two Parthian walls, which were discovered there, had done much damage to the underlying Assyrian building. Nevertheless, two rooms could be identified. Whether they belong to one building together with the large main room to the west, in which an archive of cuneiform tablets was discovered in 1990 and in 2000 (Hecker, MDOG 123 1991; Radner, MDOG 132, 2000), is as yet not clear.

 As to the stratigraphy one can distinguish four different layers: I – Remains of the Parthian architecture were only discovered in the south of the excavation area. II a – Clear indications of a post-Assyrian building phase appeared in the rooms on both sides of the street (1H5) in squares H and G, where there are mud-brick constructions to block older ways for public traffic – such as the street, the lane and an entrance into a house – and small walls directly built upon a layer of burnt mud-brick that very likely resulted from the Median conquest of Assur in 614 B.C. II b – Next follows the uppermost Late Assyrian layer with mud-brick walls of mediocre quality built on stone bases. III – Mud-brick structures of much better quality came directly under these walls. They represent an earlier Neo Assyrian building level.

 Of the small finds the following should especially be mentioned: 3 Neo Assyrian cuneiform tablets (a letter and two loan documents) 3 fragments of an amulet, an ostracon with part of an Aramaic inscription, three Neo Assyrian cylinder seals and one cylinder seal with a geometrical pattern, an incised bead maybe used as a stamp seal, a completely preserved iron dagger, and two ivories, one representing a female face in Assyrian style and the other one is comb. These finds, as well as the architectural remains, suggest that the excavated area was occupied by some wealthy persons, mainly merchants.

 

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