City Gate: Interpretation

In 1985, an area immediately inside the third millennium Tell Leilan city wall was excavated at Operation 4 (Stein 1990). Operation CG now adds the stratigraphic history of Leilan circumvallation, new cultural activity contexts, and high resolution radiocarbon dates.

It is surprising how different these two excavation areas are. In Operation CG, the continuity in the use of space and the limited ceramic and artifactual repertoire suggest that the remains are not representative of the whole site, or even the whole city wall area. Rather, it appears that the attribution of Operation CG as the gate precinct is warranted, and that this area had a specialized administrative and defensive function. This is in contrast to Operation 4, where domestic internal structures were uncovered, burials and offerings were found and a much wider range of ceramic forms were attested. At Operation 4, the only fortification wall found in the course of excavation dated to the second millennium BC, period I. The earliest domestic structures dated to ca. 2300 BC, period IIb. Our excavation at Operation CG has extended the history of this fortification system back to approximately 2600 BC and uncovered a link between the construction of this city wall, and the urbanization of Tell Leilan. Taken together, Operation 4 and Operation CG give us a more complete understanding of the way the city wall and related structures functioned.

Figure 1.

Works Cited

  • Stein, Gil, in Weiss, et al., 1990 ‘1985 Excavations at Tell Leilan, Syria’, American Journal of Archaeology 94, pp.529-81.