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Tell Brak
Tell Brak 001.jpgEye figurines from the Eye Temple.

In southern Mesopotamia, the original Ubaid culture evolved into the In southern Mesopotamia, the original Ubaid culture evolved into the Uruk period.[23] The people of the southern Uruk period used military and commercial means to expand the civilization.[24] In Northern Mesopotamia, the post Ubaid period is designated Late Chalcolithic / Northern Uruk period,[25] during which, Tell Brak started to expand.[19]

Period Brak E witnessed the building of the city's walls,[26] and Tell Brak expansion beyond the mound to form a lower town.[19] By the late 5th millennium BC, Tell Brak reached the size of c. 55 hectares.[27] Area TW of the tell (Archaeologists divided Tell Brak into areas designated with Alphabetic letters.[28] See the [26] and Tell Brak expansion beyond the mound to form a lower town.[19] By the late 5th millennium BC, Tell Brak reached the size of c. 55 hectares.[27] Area TW of the tell (Archaeologists divided Tell Brak into areas designated with Alphabetic letters.[28] See the map for Tell Brak's areas) revealed the remains of a monumental building with two meters thick walls and a basalt threshold.[29] In front of the building, a sherd paved street was discovered, leading to the northern entrance of the city.[29]

The city continued to expand during period F, and reached the size of 130 hectares.[30] Four mass graves dating to c. 3800–3600 BC were discovered in the submound, Tell Majnuna, north of the main tell, and they suggest that the process of urbanization was accompanied by internal social stress, and an increase in the organization of warfare.[31] The first half of period F (designated LC3), saw the erection of the Eye Temple,[note 2][30] which was named for the thousands of small alabaster "Eye idols" figurines discovered in it.[note 3][37] Those idols were also found in area TW.[38]

Interactions with the Mesopotamian south grew during the second half of period F (designated LC4) c. 3600 BC,[39] and an Urukean colony was established in the city.[40][41] With the end of Uruk culture c 3000 BC, Tell Brak's Urukean colony was abandoned and deliberately leveled by its occupants.[42][43] Tell Brak contracted during the following periods H and J, and became limited to the mound.[44] Evidence exists for an interaction with the Mesopotamian south during period H, represented by the existence of materials similar to the ones produced during the southern Jemdet Nasr period.[45] The city remained a small settlement during the Ninevite 5 period, with a small temple and associated sealing activities.[note 4][44]

Around c. 2600 BC, a large administrative building was built and the city expanded out of the tell again.[44] The revival is connected with the Kish civilization,[50] and the city was named "Nagar".[51] Amongst the important buildings dated to the kingdom, is an administrative building or temple named the "Brak Oval",[52] located in area TC.[53] The building have a curved exterior wall reminiscent of the Khafajah "Oval Temple" in central Mesopotamia.[54] However, aside from the wall, the comparison between the two buildings in terms of architecture is difficult, as each building follows a different plan.[55]

The oldest references to Nagar comes from Mari and tablets discovered at Nabada.[56] However, the most important source on Nagar come from the archives of Ebla.[57] Most of the texts record the ruler of Nagar using his title "En", without mentioning a name.[56][57] However a text from Ebla mentions Mara-Il, a king of Nagar;[56] thus, he is the only ruler known by name for pre-Akkadian Nagar and ruled a little more than a generation before the kingdom's destruction.[58]

At its height, Nagar encompassed most of the southwestern half of the Khabur Basin,[58] and was a diplomatic and political equal of the Eblaite and Mariote states.[59] The kingdom included at least 17 subordinate cities,<

The oldest references to Nagar comes from Mari and tablets discovered at Nabada.[56] However, the most important source on Nagar come from the archives of Ebla.[57] Most of the texts record the ruler of Nagar using his title "En", without mentioning a name.[56][57] However a text from Ebla mentions Mara-Il, a king of Nagar;[56] thus, he is the only ruler known by name for pre-Akkadian Nagar and ruled a little more than a generation before the kingdom's destruction.[58]

At its height, Nagar encompassed most of the southwestern half of the Khabur Basin,[58] and was a diplomatic and political equal of the Eblaite and Mariote states.[59] The kingdom included at least 17 subordinate cities,[60] such as Hazna,[61] and most importantly Nabada, which was a city-state annexed by Nagar,[62] and served as a provincial capital.[63] Nagar was involved in the wide diplomatic network of Ebla,[50] and the relations between the two kingdoms involved both confrontations and alliances.[57] A text from Ebla mention a victory of Ebla's king (perhaps Irkab-Damu) over Nagar.[57] However, a few years later, a treaty was concluded, and the relations progressed toward a dynastic marriage between princess Tagrish-Damu of Ebla, and prince Ultum-Huhu, Nagar's monarch's son.[8][57]

Nagar was defeated by Mari in year seven of the Eblaite vizier Ibrium's term, causing the blockage of trade routes between Ebla and southern Mesopotamia via upper Mesopotamia.[64] Later, Ebla's king Isar-Damu concluded an alliance with Nagar and Kish against Mari,[65] and the campaign was headed by the Eblaite vizier Ibbi-Sipish, who led the combined armies to victory in a battle near Terqa.[66] Afterwards, the alliance attacked the rebellious Eblaite vassal city of Armi.[67] Ebla was destroyed approximately three years after Terqa's battle,[68] and soon after, Nagar followed in c. 2300 BC.[69] Large parts of the city were burned, an act attributed either to Mari,[70] or Sargon of Akkad.[69]

Following its destruction, Nagar was rebuilt by the Akkadian empire, to form a center of the provincial administration.[71] The city included the whole tell and a lower town at the southern edge of the mound.[51] Two public buildings were built during the early Akkadian periods, one complex in area SS,[71] and another in area FS.[72] The building of area FS included its own temple and might have served as a caravanserai, being located near the northern gate of the city.[73] The early Akkadian monarchs were occupied with internal conflicts,[74] and Tell Brak was temporarily abandoned by Akkad at some point preceding the reign of Naram-Sin.[note 5][77] The abandonment might be connected with an environmental event, that caused the desertification of the region.[77]

The destruction of Nagar's kingdom created a power vacuum in the Upper Khabur.[78] The Hurrians, formerly concentrated in Urkesh,[79] took advantage of the situation to control the region as early as Sargon's latter years.[78] Tell Brak was known as "Nawar" for the Hurrians,[78] The Hurrians, formerly concentrated in Urkesh,[79] took advantage of the situation to control the region as early as Sargon's latter years.[78] Tell Brak was known as "Nawar" for the Hurrians,[80] and kings of Urkesh took the title "King of Urkesh and Nawar", first attested in the seal of Urkesh's king Atal-Shen.[13][81]

The use of the title continued during the reigns of Atal-Shen's successors, Tupkish and Tish-Atal,[79][82] who ruled only in Urkesh.[80] The Akkadians under Naram-Sin incorporated Nagar firmly into their empire.[83] The most important Akkadian building in the city is called the "Palace of Naram-Sin",[note 6][83] which had parts of it built over the original Eye Temple.[84][85] Despite its name, the palace is closer to a fortress,[83] as it was more of a fortified depot for the storage of collected tribute rather than a residential seat.[86][87] The palace was burned during Naram-Sin's reign, perhaps by a Lullubi attack,[69] and the city was burned toward the end of the Akkadian period c. 2193 BC, probably by the Gutians.[69]

The Akkadian period was followed by period N,[88] during which Nagar was the center of an independent Hurrian dynasty,[89] evidenced by the discovery of a seal, recording the name of king Talpus-Atili of Nagar,[90] who ruled during or slightly after the reign of Naram-Sin's son Shar-Kali-Sharri.[91] The view that Tell Brak came under the control of Ur III is refused,[note 7][93] and evidence exists for a Hurrian rebuilding of Naram-Sin's palace, erroneously attributed by Max Mallowan to Ur-Nammu of Ur.[94] Period N saw a reduction in the city's size, with public buildings being abandoned, and the lower town evacuated.[95] Few short lived houses were built in area CH during period N,[95] and although greatly reduced in size, archaeology provided evidence for continued occupation in the city, instead of abandonment.[note 8][99]

Foreign rule and later periods

Seals from Tell Brak and Nabada dated to the pre-Akkadian kingdom, revealed the use of four-wheeled wagons and war carriages.[147] Excavation in area FS recovered clay models of equids and wagons dated to the Akkadian and post-

Seals from Tell Brak and Nabada dated to the pre-Akkadian kingdom, revealed the use of four-wheeled wagons and war carriages.[147] Excavation in area FS recovered clay models of equids and wagons dated to the Akkadian and post-Akkadian periods.[147] The models provide information about the types of wagons used during that period (2350–2000 BC),[148] and they include four wheeled vehicles and two types of two wheeled vehicles; the first is a cart with fixed seats and the second is a cart where the driver stands above the axle.[103] The chariots were introduced during the Mitanni era,[103] and none of the pre-Mitanni carriages can be considered chariots, as they are mistakenly described in some sources.[103][148]

Government<

The first city had the characteristics of large urban centers, such as monumental buildings,[149] and seems to have been ruled by a kinship based assembly, headed by elders.[150] The pre-Akkadian kingdom was decentralized,[151] and the provincial center of Nabada was ruled by a council of elders, next to the king's representative.[152] The Nagarite monarchs had to tour their kingdom regularly in order to assert their political control.[151][153] During the early Akkadian period, Nagar was administrated by local officials.[72] However, central control was tightened and the number of Akkadian officials increased, following the supposed environmental event that preceded the construction of Naram-Sin's palace.[105] The post-Akkadian Nagar was a city-state kingdom,[154] that gradually lost its political importance during the early second millennium BC, as no evidence for a king dating to that period exists.[102]

Rulers of Tell Brak

The Kungas of pre-Akkadian Nagar were used for drawing the carriages of kings before the domestication of the horse,[164] and a royal procession included up to fifty animals.[165] The kungas of Nagar were in great demand in the Eblaite empire;[161] they cost two kilos of silver, fifty times the price of a donkey,[75] which had Ebla and Kish as major partners.[75] The kingdom produced glass,[159] wool,[58] and was famous for breeding and trading in the Kunga,[161][162] a hybrid of a donkey and a female onager.[162] Tell Brak remained an important commercial center during the Akkadian period,[163] and was one of Mitanni's main trade cities.[103] Many objects were manufactured in Mitannian Tell Brak, including furniture made of ivory, wood and bronze, in addition to glass.[107] The city provided evidence for the international commercial contacts of Mitanni, including Egyptian, Hittite and Mycenaean objects, some of which were produced in the region to satisfy the local taste.[107]

The Kungas of pre-Akkadian Nagar were used for drawing the carriages of kings before the domestication of the horse,[164] and a royal procession included up to fifty animals.[165] The kungas of Nagar were in great demand in the Eblaite empire;[161] they cost two kilos of silver, fifty times the price of a donkey,[164] and were imported regularly by the monarchs of Ebla to be used as transport animals and gifts for allied cities.[161] The horse was known in the region during the third millennium BC, but was not used as a draught animal before c. 18th century BC.[162]

Site

Tell Brak was excavated by the British archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, husband of Agatha Christie, in 1937 and 1938.[166] The artifacts from Mallowan's excavations are now preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, National Museum of Aleppo and the British Museum's collection;[167] the latter contain the Tell Brak Head dating to c. 3500–3300 BC.[168][169]

A team from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of London, led by David and Joan Oates, worked in the tell for 14 seasons between 1976 and 1993.[69] After 1993, excavations were conducted by a number of field directors under the general guidance of David (until 2004) and Joan Oates.[69] Those directors included Roger Matthews (in 1994–1996), for the Institute of Archaeology of the University of London, led by David and Joan Oates, worked in the tell for 14 seasons between 1976 and 1993.[69] After 1993, excavations were conducted by a number of field directors under the general guidance of David (until 2004) and Joan Oates.[69] Those directors included Roger Matthews (in 1994–1996), for the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research of the University of Cambridge; Geoff Emberling (in 1998–2002) and Helen McDonald (in 2000–2004), for the British Institute for the Study of Iraq and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[69] In 2006, Augusta McMahon became field director, also sponsored by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq.[69] A regional archaeological field survey in a 20 km (12 mi) radius around Brak was supervised by Henry T. Wright (in 2002–2005).[170] Many of the finds from the excavations at Tell Brak are on display in the Deir ez-Zor Museum.[171] The most recent excavations took place in the spring of 2011, but archaeological work is currently suspended due to the ongoing Syrian Civil War.[172]

According to the Syrian authorities, the camp of archaeologists was looted, along with the tools and ceramics kept in it.[173] The site changed hands between the different combatants, mainly the Kurdish People's Protection Units and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[174] In early 2015, Tell Brak was taken by the Kurdish forces after light fighting with the Islamic State.[175]

See also