Operation 3


Operation 3 was also opened in the last excavation season. It is situated between the operation areas 1 and 2 and lies to the east of the old trench 8II from the former excavations of W. Andrae. In 2000 the excavation area consisted of two squares 10 by 10 m (A and F). Now this trench has been enlarged in the northern direction by four squares of the same dimensions (B, C, D, E). Square C was opened in the north of F and in the west of A, square B in the north of A and the squares D and E are situated to the east of A and B.

 In square F we started the new excavation in the southern part where the upper mud-brick walls were mostly destroyed. In the 2001 season two Parthian levels (level I-II) and one Assyrian level (level III) were excavated here. The thickness of the Late Assyrian deposits should be examined with a deeper sounding. For this reason the excavation of the Late Assyrian remains, which were already reached in the 2000 season, was completed. Room 3F2, which has mud-brick walls and a good floor of backed bricks, belongs to this level. Below the floor appeared a drainage-way. After the architectural remains were documented, we removed them and reached a floor constructed of mud-bricks (level IV) in the south-western part of the square F. Below the floor level was a kiln set on a big platform of mud-bricks which presumably belonged to a yard of a Neo Assyrian house (level V). The kiln was obviously vaulted but the vault was completely destroyed. Below the oven spread out a level with mud-brick walls partly constructed of broken stones with mud-mortar (level VI). Also a part of a pavement made of brick and stones was preserved. The bricks, which were grooved on the surface, were laid in two parallel lines running from east to west. They looked like the grooved stone slabs in the main rooms of the Assyrian Palaces, which served as a kind of railway for mobile objects. A similar installation but of stones was already found before in an Assyrian private house in Ashur (Preusser, WVDOG 54, 1954, 49 Pl. 21). Deeper in the north-eastern part of the square the pavement of sherds covered a construction made of mud-bricks and backed bricks. This construction has not been clarified yet but it seems to belong to a mud-brick wall to the north of these remains. That wall once was cut by a big pit in the northern section of the square F, which destroyed all levels below the Parthian horizon. Four big clay cones came from its filling. They were broken, but complete and their heads were painted black. These objects must have been installed originally in a palace building, maybe in the “New Palace” of Tukulti-Ninurta I (1233-1197). Many inscribed bricks, which can be attributed to the king, were found in the area “Ashur West”.

In the northern squares of operation 3 only the uppermost levels were investigated. In square C the Parthian level (level II) was reached directly below the surface. There were a few wall remains built of backed bricks and broken stones with mud-mortar. The function of these walls is unknown. Below the Parthian layer a Late Assyrian mud-brick wall run from east to west (level III).

 In square A clarification of the plans of the Late Assyrian houses was attempted which were excavated in the last season. We found the connection between rooms 3A3 and 3A5 (door with a threshold) and examined the whole extension of rooms 3A4 and 3A1. In the south of this last room there was another threshold in the door to room 3A7. A number of Late Assyrian rooms in squares B, D and E belong to different houses. The southern room with a kind of cistern and a pavement of bricks could be a part of a courtyard. Two adjacent courtyards are also located in square B. The small rooms to the east of these courtyards show many changes representing presumably a late settlement in Ashur after 614 B.C. In square D two sarcophagi were excavated which were set in a Late Assyrian mud-brick wall probably from the Parthian level.

 Small finds in the houses are well preserved jars and pot-stands. Of another finds the following should especially be mentioned: some Neo Assyrian terracotta figurines representing human beings as well as animals, Assyrian “hand-consoles” of terracotta and a bronze fibula.

 As to the stratigraphy of operation 3 one can distinguish 7 different building levels: I – remains of a Parthian street (square F), II – architectural remains and graves from the Parthian period (squares C, D, F), III – Late Assyrian houses (squares A-F), IV – Late Assyrian floor (square F), V – Neo Assyrian kiln (square F), VI – Neo Assyrian room with the brick railway (square F), VII – Middle (?) Assyrian mud-brick wall (square F).