Gawra XII

By: C. B.

Originally Published in 1936

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THE Museum’s Expedition to Tepe Gawra left Philadelphia early in September. During the last field season the discovery of Level XII believed to be the ruins of the oldest known city was front page news. The expedition is continuing work at this level and at the same time completing work on Levels X and XI. The following is a brief report from Mr. Charles Bache, Field Director of the Expedition.

FOR some time at the beginning of the present season, we worked with a very small digging force, securing architectural detail from walls of lost season, and checking our stratification of the levels between Stratum 10 and 12. We chose, for the beginning, to excavate that part of the Mound that lies the furthest east.

Three men holding up a very large fragmented jar
Plate VIII — Large Storage Jar

The Eastern area is clearly a commercial center in all its levels and phases between l0 and 12. Pottery ovens frequently occur. There are storage-rooms, storage-bins and storage-jars for wheat and barley. Numerous sealings have the impressions of string and sacking on their backs. Mortars, both “built-in” the pavements and free-standing are fairly common. There are two deposits of ballistas or sling shots, evidently having just been finished rather than being in readiness for use, since the row clay from which they are formed was found nearby.

Cooking pots occur frequently, both spouted and unspouted. A few are whole, but the greatest number are fragmentary. They are all a burnished red, of coarse texture, appear with about the same frequency, and in the same general condition. They are almost always of light buff, no slip and of a fairly fine texture.

As heretofore, all painted vessels have come up in Stratum 12. Still, many sherds – isolated fragments – appear in the upper levels. The two pieces shown in the photographs were all found in the twelfth level, near the edge of the tepe where there has been some work done in this deeper stratum. “Cult” or “Hut” Symbols also continue to appear.

A man holding a pick axe next to an excavated storage area
Plate VIII — Quarter circle storage bin

A small copper vase we have labelled as being of uncertain provenance. Actually it is alleged to have been found directly beneath a wall of the temple of 11. The workman said that he struck with his pick, and out it fell. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to prove his case as he destroyed the imprint of the object in the soil. I am suspicious since not only has it on obvious Assyrian air, but also the workman who claims to have found it is the former head-foreman at Khorsabad. The vase is probably a “plant” to gain favour. With the exception of a dubious nail, and a pair of needles, it is the only copper to come from these levels. We are at present holding the matter in abeyance, giving the man more rope to hang himself.

Of particular interest ore the seal-impression drawings. The hunting-scene in the center is one of the finest impressions that we have had. The figures are almost in semi-round and the engraver of the seal has caught the movements of this graceful dog, the Salugi, with utmost fidelity. His success in carving the quarry of the hunt portrayed was obviously not as great. There is doubt as to what the central animal might be, though probably it is a mouflon. The seal (not impression) at the right of this is also of interest, in that here we have one of our few portrayals of humans. They are seated before an object (structure?) quite unidentifiable, although the engraving is very sharp and definite. The seal is made of a green steatite. (See photographs below.)

A shallow bowl with chevron designs painted on the outside
Plate IX — Painted pottery vessels from Tepe Gawra, Level Twelve

As I have said before, the architecture of these levels presents nothing new, nor of great interest. There are no important public buildings, but rather, a large group of individual rooms, with no particular series forming o unified complex that could be called a building.

In all these levels there was constant building and re-building. There are examples of expansion and contraction of rooms as necessity dictated. The times must have been busy ones for the local fire department in this area. There are numerous instances where one or two of the small grain-storage rooms in various ports of the site were consumed with a fierce blaze, the intensity clearly shown by the traces on the walls. After one of these fires, the inhabitants used part of the ruins in the formation of other rooms, and the level of the floor was raised, thus forming the confusion in stratification that has confronted us for the post weeks. It is easy to see how there could have been so many conflagrations when one considers the unusually large number of kilns and ovens, and the substance from which the roofs of houses were formed. In one room we have found absolute proof that roofing in those times was the same as today. We discovered the reed-matting, the rushes and the timbers just as they had fallen at the time of the collapse of the walls.

C. B.

A footed bowl with painted stripes, checkerboard pattern, and cross hatching
Plate IX — Painted pottery vessels from Tepe Gawra, Level Twelve

NOTE. As we go to press cable news from Mr. Bache announces the opening of excavations on Level XIII and discovery of striking pointed pottery of an apparently new and important type. In addition the latest work has revealed an extraordinary circular building over sixty feet in diameter the like of which has never before been discovered in that area. For the next issue of the Bulletin we hope to have Mr. Bache’s full report on these discoveries.

Three impressions of stamp seals showing four legged animals

Cite This Article

B., C.. "Gawra XII." Museum Bulletin VI, no. 3 (March, 1936): 93-97. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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