Beside Tell Mardikh/Ebla (EC 001; for a general presentation of the results, with relevant bibliography, see Matthiae 1995a, 66-132, plates 5-73; 2010b, 64-208, 377-99, plates 1-XV; see also Matthiae, in this volume) and Tell Tuqan (Ec 004; Baffi 2006d; 2008; 2011b; see Baffi and Feyronel, in this volume), excavated sites in the chora of Ebla include Tell Afis (EC 002; §
2.1) and Tell Mastuma (EC 096; § 2.2) in the Ebla region; soundings have been carried out also at Tell Deinit, which falls outside the area of investigation of the Ebla Chora Project (hereafter ECF) (see Mantellini, Micale, and Feyronel, in this volume), but which is located within the area of Idlib and has yielded some Early Bronze 1V ceramic materials;2 finally, a tomb dating to EB 1VB has been brought to light at Saraqeb (§ 2.1), south of Tell Afis.
2.1. Tell Afis and the Tomb of Saraqeb
Tell Afis is located ca. 50 km southwest of Aleppo and 11 km northwest of Ebla (Figure 10.1). The site was visited by William F. Albright in 1932 (Albright 1933, 31). Subsequent surveys and soundings were carried out in 1970, 1972, and 1978 by the Sapienza University of Rome under the direction of Faolo Matthiae (Matthiae 1979c), and systematic excavations started in 1986 on behalf of the Universities of Fisa and Bologna, and, subsequently, the University of Florence, under the direction of Stefania Mazzoni and Serena Maria Cecchini (Cecchini 1987; 1993; 1994; 1994-1995; Mazzoni 1991a; 1994b; 1998a; 1998b; 1998c; 1999-2000b; 2002b; 2005a; 2006-2007; 2007; Mazzoni and Cecchini 1995; Cecchini and Mazzoni 1998; Venturi 1997). The site has an ovoid shape covering 25 ha; the Acropolis is located in the northern part of the tell, while the Lower Town is in the southern sector.
A long chronological sequence from the Early Chalcolithic period (Afis 1 = ca. 5500-3800 B. c.) to the Persian Era (Afis X = ca. 550-330 B. c.) has been identified at Tell Afis. Within this sequence, the EBA occupation is represented by Afis 111 (EB 1-111, ca. 3100-2500 B. c.) and Afis 1V (EB 1V, ca. 2500-2000 B. c.) phases (Mazzoni 1995, 252; Felli and Merluzzi 2008, 97-98, figs. 1-2, 4-5).
EBA evidences were collected in the excavations carried out in 1991-1992, 1994, and 2001-2004 in Area E, on the western slope of the Acropolis (Mazzoni 2011b, 55). EB 1VA materials were collected mainly in secondary contexts (Giannessi 1995, fig. 10:5-6; Mazzoni 1995, 248;3 1998d, 9, fig. 18:15-18; here Figure 10.4), but no traces of occupation were detected in primary loci. EB 1VB occupation was identified in level 17 with two main subphases, 17b and a (Giannessi 1995; Merluzzi 1995; Mazzoni 1995, 247-48).
The earliest occupation, level 17b, is documented in squares CoV3-4, CpV3-4 and CqV6 by the remains of a few walls and a floor (L.1472). The following level 17a (L. 1462, L.1464/L. 1474,4 M.1117) is represented by the remains of a domestic unit composed by three axial rooms with evidence of flint blades productions, such as obsidian and flint blades and flakes, and working places (Merluzzi 1995, 253, fig. 7a; here Figure 10.2). This area kept its domestic function until the latest EB 1VB phase, and was bordered to the west by a substantial retaining wall made of mud-bricks (M.1117; ibidem, 254), which has been identified also in squares CoV1-2 (Giannessi 1998, 103). 1n the southern room (L.1464), also a sub-floor jar burial (D.1475) belonging to level 17a has been brought to light. The child’s body was laid in a cooking pot—a hole-mouth with inturned swollen rim grooved on the outer surface5—and the funerary equipment (Merluzzi 1995, 253-54, figs. 7b, 8; here Figure 10.3) was composed by a simple cup, located near the head of the deceased, and a necklace, known in a single bead. Remains of two other rooms (L.1112, L.1168), also attributed to level 17a, were discovered in squares CoV1-V2 and CpV2 (Giannessi 1998, 103, figs. 11-13).
1n square Co1V20, the earliest EB 1VB phase, level 17b, was represented by an industrial installation placed in an open courtyard, featuring an oven filled with basalt grinding stones and pestles, a mud-brick platform, a plasterer floor, and a series of rooms to the east and the south of the open space (Giannessi 1995, 256, fig. 12). Further olive pits and a tannur associated to a surface made of orange clay and gravel were identified in square CpV2, and in L.1168, underneath the level 17a structures (Giannessi 1998, 103-4). In squares coV2 and cpV2 also pits dug into the late chalcolithic levels were found, yielding EB IVB ceramic materials dating from an early phase of EB IVA (Giannessi 1995, fig. 9:10; 1998, 104; Mazzoni 1995, 248; 1998d, 9, fig. 18:15-18; here Figure 10.4:1-4).
In squares CplV19-18, ColV20 and CplV20 level 17a occupation is distinguished by three pits connected by a floor made of packed clay and gravel (L.1456), which was also linked to a plastered room sealed by a layer of collapsed mud-bricks (L.1453). The former yielded two diorite carinated Egyptian bowls (TA.94.E.19 and TA.94.E.139; see Scandone Matthiae 1995; here Figure 10.5),6 while from L.1456 came a storage jar with swollen rim, and another storage jar with everted thickened outside rim (Giannessi 1995, 256, fig. 10:5-6; here Figure 10.4:5-6). All those material compare well with Mardikh llB1 at Ebla, but have been attributed to a very early EB lVB horizon, probably shortly after the destruction of Royal Palace G, due to the stratigraphic position of level 17a remains, on top of the EB lVB layers in this area, and based on an overall evaluation of the EB lVB ceramic assemblage from this sector of the site (Mazzoni
Ln ColV20 and CplV20 level 17a is represented also by a plastered installation (L.1448) with human bones, beads, and vessels (two syrian Bottles, a painted jug, and a grooved teapot; see Giannessi 1995, 254, fig. 10:1-4, and nos 55-56 for parallels) scattered all around, hinting at the possible presence of a burial (D.1455).
Ln the 2001-2004 archaeological campaigns the area investigated in 1994 was enlarged, and new structures belonging to a workshop area were brought to light (Felli and Merluzzi 2005; 2008, 98-102, fig. 3; Mazzoni and Felli 2007, 212, fig. 3). These are represented by a large vertical kiln (Furnace A); an adjacent room to the east, probably related to it, with an installation constituted by two vessels embedded in a shard-packed floor; and a central open working space with a cobblestone-paved area (Felli and Merluzzi 2005, fig. 41.1; here Figure 10.6). Finally, a second kiln (Furnace B) was identified to the south (ibidem, fig. 41.2).
The ceramic assemblage of level 17 (Mazzoni 1998a, 32-33, figs. 16:12-18, 17-18, 19:1-15; see also Felli and Merluzzi 2005, 51-52; 2008, 98, figs. 4-5; here Figure 10.7) includes vessel types and ware classes and productions typical of the EB lVB pottery horizon of northwestern inner Syria (Mazzoni 2002a, 78-79, plates XLlV-XLVV).7 The ceramic corpus is homogeneous, mainly made of a grit-tempered high-fired buff fabric, and hints at the existence of mass-produced and standardized ceramics (Mazzoni 1998a, 32). Attested vessel types include Painted Simple Ware goblets in the typical style, painted, combed, and reserved (Figure 10.7:1-3); everted rim jars (Figure 10.7:7) and trefoil-mouth jugs (Figure 10.7:8); Simple Ware goblets, plain (Figure 10.7:9-11) or with light surface combing (Figure 10.7:12); double-rim jars with combed decoration (Figure 10.7:13); bowls with vertical rims (Figure 10.7:14); bowls with molded (Figure 10.7:15-16), indented, or grooved rims (Figure 10.7:17-18); large platters with outward folded rim (Figure 10.7:19) and plain ledge handles (Figure 10.7:20) made of Kitchen Ware fabrics; and jars with inner-stepped rim (Figure 10.7:21). lt is noteworthy that Simple Ware goblets (Figure 10.7:12), jars with combed decoration (Figure 10.7:13), and bowls with grooved or indented rim (Figure 10.7:17-18) represent the latest EB lVB ceramic horizon, which has been labelled EB lVB3 within the sequence of Area HH at Tell Mardikh that was brought to light in the 20042008 excavation seasons (Matthiae 2007, 50712, fig. 27; as for Tell Afis see Mazzoni 1998a, 9, fig. 19:1-15).8
Finally, a burnished jar with triangular ledge handle on the rim, found in layer 17—which has consistent parallels in EB lll assemblages in the Quweiq basin and at Tell Hammam et-Turkman Vl in local EB lV—has been regarded by Mazzoni (ibidem, 33, with relevant bibliography and parallels) as imported and possibly residual.
As far as small finds are concerned, during the 2000-2001 seasons of excavations at Tell
Afis, three fragments of clay female figurines (TA.00.B.38; TA.01.B.41, and TA.01.B.129; Scandone Matthiae 2002, figs. 8.1, 8.4, 8.5 respectively; here Figure 10.8) were found in area B. parallels from Ebla, Hama, tell selenkahiye, and Habuba Kebira (see ibidem, 16, with relevant bibliography) allow to date the specimen TA.00.B.38 to the end of the EBA, whereas it is difficult to have a more detailed chronological support for TA.01.B.41 and TA.01.B.129.9
Finally, from the stratified deposit of the EBA, 266 specimens of lithic industry were collected, including a large amount of fine and modular local exemplars and sporadic evidence of imported elements (Di Gregorio 2005, 120, figs. 67-68).
Further EB IVB archaeological evidence in the area of Saraqeb was brought to light in 1983, when Abdo Asfari, at that time assistant director in the Idlib Museum, was informed of the casual discovery of a tomb during the excavation of a canalization (Suleiman and Gritsenko 1986). The tomb was cut into the rock and lacked the entrance shaft. The funerary chamber, roughly oval-shaped, was 1.5 m high, 2.5 m long, and 2 m large (ibidem, 57, fig. 3). The ceramic assemblage suggests that the tomb contained multiple burials and that it was used repeatedly during EB IVB and Middle Bronze lA. The funerary equipment is constituted by two bronze objects, a bracelet (ibidem, fig. 1:25) and a tripartite spearhead with bent tang (ibidem, fig. 1:24, plate l:2);10 a MB lA clay figurine (ibidem, plate l:3; Marchetti 2001, 218n321); and a substantial ceramic assemblage with materials dating to both phases of use of the tomb (Suleiman and Gritsenko 1986, figs. 1-3, plate l:1; here Figure 10.9).
With regard to the EB lVB assemblage, Simple Ware includes bowls with vertical upright, beaded, outward-folded, triangular, molded, and grooved rims (ibidem, figs. 1:4-13, 3:7-8; here Figure 10.10:1-11), spouted jars (ibidem, fig. 1:18; here Figure 10.10:12), trefoil-mouth pitchers (ibidem, fig. 2:13; here Figure 10.10:14), bevelled-rim jars (ibidem, fig. 1:23), jars with pointed base (ibidem, fig. 1, 20-21; here Figure 10.10:13), ovoid flat-based jars with double rim (ibidem, fig. 1:19), spherical pots (ibidem, fig. 2:10), and two-handled storage jars (ibidem, fig. 2:24). Painted Simple Ware vessels are represented by painted goblets (ibidem, figs. 1:1-3, 3:1; here Figure 10.10:16-17), bowls with triangular, outward-folded, or vertical and swollen rims (ibidem, fig. 1:14-16; here Figure 10.10:18), necked jars (ibidem, figs. 2:1-3; here Figure 10.10:21, 24), necked spouted jars (ibidem, fig. 1:17; here Figure 10.10:25), and Syrian Bottles (ibidem, fig. 2:4-6; here Figure 10.10:26-28). Finally a pattern-combed jug (ibidem, fig. 2:15; here Figure 10.10:15) and two grooved and spiral burnished bottles are attested within the tomb assemblage (ibidem, fig. 2:11-12; here Figure 10.10:29-30).
2.2. Tell Mastuma
Tell Mastuma is a tell measuring about 200 m in diameter and 20 m in height. lt is located 5 km from the modern city of ldlib, at an elevation of 478 m a. s.l..11 The Japanese archaeological expedition directed by Namio Egami on behalf of the Ancient Orient Museum of Tokio started working at the site in 1980 (Egami 1983; 1988; Egami and Masuda 1984; Egami, Wakita, and Gotoh 1984; Wakita et al. 1994; Wakita et al. 1995; lwasaki et al. 2009).
At Tell Mastuma fourteen layers of occupation ranging from the EBA (Stratum XlV) to the lron Age (Stratum l) have been identified. The EBA occupation corresponds to Period A (Strata XlV-Vl, about 10 m in thickness, in the North Trench and Layers c-h in the Southern Sounding12), contemporary with Hama J and Mardikh llB1 and llB2 (Egami, Wakita, and lshida 19881989, 68). The excavations were concentrated mainly in the northern (“North Trench,” squares 9Ha, 9Hb, 9Hc, 9Hd, 10Ha, 10Hb, and 10Hc), central (“Central Area,” squares 11Gb, 11Gd, 11 Ha, 11Hc, and 12Ga), and southern sectors of the mound. Later on the first two areas were unified by opening squares 10Gc, 10Gd, 11Ga, 11Gc, 10Hc, 10Hd, 11Hb, 11Hd, 11 la, and 11lc (ibidem, 53). Finally, in squares 15Gc-16Ga six EBA layers (Layers c-h) were identified, one attributed by the excavators to the earliest phases of the EBA period (Layer h), and five of them (Layers c-g) dating to EB IVB and represented mainly by a large amount of EB IV ash pits and potsherds. Architectural remains were identified only in Layers e and f (Tsuneki 2009a, 69, 7174, 75-81, 83-86).
EBA evidence in the North Trench was found in Strata XIII-VIII, which correspond to EB IVA (Strata XIII-X) and EB IVB (Strata IX-VI) (Wakita 2009; Tsuneki 2009a, 86). Finally, though the latest excavations have focused on an investigation of the IA city, identified on the top of the mound, remains attributed to Stratum XI were identified in the North Trench. They consist in a building of two rooms separated by a couple of buttresses, with an entrance to the east and a sort of plastered altar in the inner room (Egami, Wakita, and Ishida 1988-1989, plate 2:1), and in the remains of two sub-floor burials ibidem, plate 2:2).
A Red-Black Burnished Ware shard retrieved in Stratum VI (Wakita 2009, 63, fig. 3.7:2) as well as two fragments retrieved in Layer g, and one more in Layer h in square 15Gc (Tsuneki 2009a, 80, fig. 3.23:7), and some ceramic materials found in Layer h (Plain Simple Ware, Incised and Impressed Ware, and Reserved Slip Ware) suggested to the excavators (ibidem, 83-86) the existence of a ceramic and chronological horizon antecedent to that corresponding to the Mardikh IIB1 phase at Ebla (Royal Palace G horizon), and possibly matching the Amuq G ceramic horizon. EB IVA materials are represented by corrugated goblets (Wakita 2009, figs. 3.8:4, 3.9:2; here Figure 10.11:1-5) and grooved-rim jars with scrabbled decoration on the shoulder (ibidem, fig. 3.9:17; here Figure 10.11:6), both of which have consistent parallels in the ceramic repertoire of Royal Palace G at Ebla (see Mazzoni, in this volume; D’Andrea and Vacca, in this volume).
Finally, EB IVB materials (Iwasaki et al. 2009, figs. 3.8, 3.9:2, 25-26) include Painted Simple Ware bowls (Figure 10.11:7-8) and jars (Figure 10.11:9-10); the typical painted, combed, and reserved goblets (Figure 10.11:11-13); Simple Ware bowls with grooved rim (Figure 10.11:17) and with molded (Figure 10.11:16) and outward-folded rims (Figure 10.11:18); and Kitchen Ware platters with ledge handles (Figure 10.11:19) and large basins (Figure 10.11:20).
Finally, some artefacts and objects from northern and central areas of the excavations are dated to the EBA, such as clay figurines (Nishiyama 2009, fig. 8.33:3-11; here Figure 10.12), a bronze pin (Stratum VIII), a bone needle (Stratum XII), and an ivory comb (Stratum XIII) found during the 1986-1988 excavation (Egami, Wakita, and Ishida 1988-1989, fig. 9), together with an unbaked clay portable hearth found on a partially plastered floor belonging to Stratum VII (Nishiyama 2009, fig. 8.34:1; here Figure 10.13).13
3. MAIN EXCAVATED ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AROUND THE EBLAITE CHO - RA: A summary oF THE EvIDENcE
The area directly surrounding the chora of Ebla includes some other excavated sites that offer comparisons with the former in several classes of evidence, such as pottery and clay figurines, especially for the mid and late third millennium B. c. (i. e., EB IVA-B). As we have outlined above (§ 1), this region forms a broad ring around the chora and includes the area to the south and east of Aleppo that borders on, but does not encompass, the Amuq to the northwest, the Euphrates valley to the northeast, and the regions of Apamea and Hama to the south. The sites included within this region are Ain Hassan, Ansari, Tell Abu Danne, Tell Umm el-Marra, and the Ghab and the Ruj plains where the site of Tell Qarqur has been extensively excavated, while soundings at Tell Aray 1 have brought to light still unpublished EBA ceramic materials and architectural remains.14