Secondary State Formation and the Second Urban Revolution
At the very end of the Ninevite 5 ceramic period, around 2600 BC, during Leilan period IIId, Leilan settlement expanded rapidly from 15 to 90-hectares, as regional population nucleated, and a city wall was built around the settlement (Weiss 1990a – c; Ristvet 2007). On the Leilan Acropolis a monumental wall and adjacent storerooms were erected in Operation 1 stratum 15d, and rebuilt repeatedly over the next three hundred years (Calderone/Weiss 2003; Wetterstrom 2003). Regional population nucleation, centralized store rooms, and public building construction are here, as elsewhere, signposts for the transition to state- level political and economic organization. Confounding many archaeological assumptions, however, the Leilan IIId period urban and state transformation – the period IIa Subarian state – was not accompanied by a synchronous change in ceramic production. Changes in pottery manufacture and styles, from labor-intensive, highly decorated, terminal Ninevite 5/ Leilan IIId vessels to uniform “mass-produced” Leilan period IIa wares, only began about 100 years after Leilan urbanization and state formation (Weiss 1990a – c).
Seal impressions on the period IIa stratum 14 floor of Acropolis storerooms included many with the local, northern-style iconography derived from Early Dynastic II – III periods southern Mesopotamian “banquet scenes”, legitimating through emulation of southern iconography the new political and economic order (Parayre 2003). The later period IIa storerooms included a grain storage room subsequently destroyed by fire. Preserved were much barley, emmer, and durum wheat, mixed with burned roofing materials that included microscopic lignite, molten clay spherules, and phytoliths (Weiss et al 2002; Weiss 2002).
At the Lower Town South a planned and walled straight street, 4.5 m wide leading to the Acropolis was set upon virgin soil in Leilan IIId times (Fig. 2)(Weiss 1990a – c). The street and its residential structures indicate that Leilan was now one of the unexplained planned radial-street cities, accompanied by state-level political organization, that suddenly dominated the Khabur Plains and western Syria beginning in the 26th century, as revealed most clearly at Tell Chuera (Meyer 2010a,b). Lower Town houses here were built within wall-divided sectors and against street walls unbroken but for water-drain alleys. Pig bones in large percentage were a waste deposit in the sherd-laden street – where the tooth of the earliest domesticated equid in northern Mesopotamia was also retrieved (Weiss et al 1993). Apart from large quantities of flat-base “s i l a-bowls” in the Akkadian period, phases 3 – 5, there were no administrative artifacts in the Lower Town residential area (Senior/Weiss 1992). The Akkadian period Lower Town South residential occupation and occupation in the northern Lower Town exposures terminated synchronously and abruptly at ca. 2200 BC (The Lower Town South is the subject of Monica Arrivabeni’s Freie Universität Berlin doctoral dissertation project).
Fig. 2 L89, Lower Town South excavation.