Tell Halaf Grabungsprojekt


Dr. Jörg Becker, Dr. Lutz Martin und Prof. Dr. Mirko Novák

Prehistoric Architecture
The new research has cast more light on the prehistoric settlement and architecture. These insights were won by the excavations on the northern slope and in the area of the «West-Palast». So far, five round buildings, which are characteristic for the Halaf period, have been excavated (Fig. 1). They have a rectangular annex and their internal diameter usually measures between 3 and 5 m, sometimes even up to 7 m. The larger round buildings represent a type of house, which is well known from different sites and which served as a living and working space for nuclear families. Smaller round buildings, which might have been used as storage facilities or ovens were found in intensively used vacant spaces inside the settlement.
The following Halaf-‘Obed Transitional period can also be seen stratigraphically in a small area and so far it is represented by rectangular buildings. Possibly, the Halaf-‘Obed transition marks the change from the round buildings of the Halaf period to the rectangular buildings of the northern Mesopotamian ‘Obed period.
It has not been possible to connect the following ‘Obed period to any excavated structural remains..

Iron Age Architecture
The Aramaean town is rectangular and extends over ca. 1000 m from east to west and 600 m from north to south. In the north, right next to the river, lies the citadel covering ca. 6 ha (Fig. 2). While the lower town was only investigated in a few places, extensive excavations concentrated on the rectangular citadel. Kapara seems to have altered its structure essentially. In the process, places of ancestor worship were built over and relief orthostats removed from a »Temple of the weather-god« (not localized) and reused at the «West-Palast», also known as Hilani. The «West-Palast» was built upon a ca. 5 m high mudbrick-terrace, which was set into a 3 m deep foundation pit in the north (Fig. 3). Oppenheim mentioned the remains of an older building, which the «West-Palast» was supposedly built upon, but no traces of such a structure have been discovered during the new excavations. The «Skorpionentor» and very probably the younger «Burgtor» were probably also built during Kapara’s reign. At least since Kapara’s age the citadel was not only separated from the lower town by its fortifications, but it was also divided within itself into at least two areas. At present, we cannot decide what was the function of the area outside the citadel between the «Burgtor» and the «Skorpionentor». A parallel layout of a citadel can be found in Sam’al / Zincirli.
As a result of the new excavations, a building, which the excavators had interpreted as a residential palace («Wohnpalast») and dated into the Aramaean period, can be identified as Neo-Assyrian. This is the «Nordost-Palast», which was used as the governor’s residence under Neo-Assyrian rule. The palace is founded on a great mudbrick-terrace. The size of the latter has not been assessed yet (Fig. 4).
It is striking that, so far, just one sacred building has been detected in Tell Halaf; it lies outside the citadel in the western lower town and dates to the period of Assyrian rule, most likely to the 8th century B.C. No temple is known from the period of self-government.

(Translation: B. Finkbeiner / A. Sollee / B. Sollee)

1Prehistoric round buildings (Photo: G. Mirsch)
2Map of the entire site by K. Müller 1913 (Source: Novak 2011, Fig. 47)
3Southern part of the «Nordost-Palast» after excavations in 2010 (Area C) (Photo: L. Simons)
4«Skorpionentor» after excavations in 2006 (Area A) (Photo: G. Mirsch)
© 2022 Tell Halaf Excavation Project
All texts and pictures on this website are
property of the Tell Halaf Excavation Project.