Ziyaret Tepe – Bronze to Iron Age subsistence change in the Upper Tigris Valley

Tepe Ziyaret is a large archaeological site in southeastern Turkey, on the Tigris River, south of the city of Diyarbakir. It is about 2 hours’ drive from the famous Early Neolithic site of Cayönnü. The site is a very large tell site dominating the alluvial flood plain of the Tigris, with occupation from the Early Bronze Age to the Islamic period. The period of most intense occupation was during the Neo-Assyrian period when it became an important administrative centre along the northern periphery of the Empire. During this period (882-612 BCE), it grew from a small town-sized tell to a large urban center with an extensive outer town encircled by fortifications. This was the period when the Assyrian empire expanded northwards and Ziyaret became a provincial capital of the empire. From contemporary cuneiform documents, we know that the site’s ancient name was Tušḫan. It was also for a few years the last capital of the Assyrian empire, after Nineveh fell to the Babylonians and the imperial court retreated north. Cuneiform texts written by the governor of Tušḫan to the king of Assyria have been found in Nineveh.

View of site with step-trench

View of site with step-trench

Excavations at the site were from 1997-2013 and were directed by Tim Matney (University of Akron, USA), with colleagues from the UK (John MacGinnis, University of Cambridge), Germany (Dirk Wicke, University of Mainz), and Turkey (Kemalettin Köroğlu, Marmara Üniversitesi, Istanbul). Tina Jongsma-Greenfield and I are the Canadian contribution to the project. She is the primary zooarchaeological specialist for the site, while I worked on the Bronze Age material with her.

Analysis of the zooarchaeological remains from the large step trench that cross-cut all the major periods at the site provided the opportunity to monitor changes in subsistence associated with the ebb and flow of foreign powers across the region. The analysis demonstrated that there were major subsistence changes in the region after the Early Bronze Age coincident with the repeated conquest of the region by Mesopotamian kingdoms and empires and its incorporation into their sphere of influence.

Prof. Tim Matney, director of excavations

Prof. Tim Matney, director of excavations

More information is available at: http://www3.uakron.edu/titris/photogallery.html.

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