House of the Foreigners

In May 2006, the Tell Leilan Project retrieved one-thousand square meters of the Akkadian palace on the Acropolis Northwest, a building only located with a long test trench and three ten-by-tens in 2002. The 2006 excavation revealed the palace’s southern facade and entryways, the interior hallways, grain processing rooms, a unique tablet-preparation and grain-distribution recording room undisturbed since its abandonment (Figure 1), and the building’s defensive northern glacis. In addition to the information it provides concerning Akkadian activity on the Habur Plains and the nature of early imperialism, the building’s excavation accomplished another Project goal: to refine third millennium Mesopotamian chronology and the date of the Akkadian collapse with high-precision radiometric dating of short-lived grain samples from the building’s floors.

Paul Lawrence, Director of Yale’s Center for Media and Instructional Innovation, visited Tell Leilan during the 2006 excavation and produced a 10-minute documentary. The video tracks the palace excavation through several workdays with interviews of Project staff. The film begins with pre-sunrise departure for Tell Leilan from the Yale expedition house, known locally as “The House of the Foreigners” in Qahtaniyah, northeast Syria.

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