zondag 19 april 2015

Tell Tweini


SYRO-BELGIAN EXCAVATIONS AT TELL TWEINI, SYRIA

My southern neighbours were also active on the Syrian coast!


The site
Tell Tweini is situated in the coastal area of Syria, 30 kilometres south of the harbour town of Latttakia. Located just outside the limits of the modern town of Jebleh, ancient Gibala/Gabala lies 1,7 km from the sea, at the junction of two rivers. The tell rises 15 to 20m above the surrounding fields and measures some 400m (E-W) by 290m (N-S). Recent (1999) palynological research suggests a sea incursion during the Bronze Age near the foot of the tell. The largest of the two rivers, the Rumalleh, was, according to local interviews, navigable as recently as the early part of the 20th century AD.

The project
The excavations are part of the Jebleh project directed by Prof.Dr.Michel Al-Maqdissi (Directorate-General of Antiquities, Syria) and Prof.Dr.Karel van Lerberghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium). Since 1999 the field directors are Mr.Massoued Badawy and Prof.Dr.Joachim Bretschneider. The Jebleh Project is a part of the Begian Program on Interuniversity Poles of Attraction.

Historical Implications
In the Middle Bronze Age it was usual to bury the dead under the floors of the houses. An extraordinary find was a large common grave from ca.1700 BC. It contained the skeletons of 42 adults and 16 children; 160 well-preserved ceramic pots, vases, bronze pins and various figurines served as burial gifts. Another tomb was the burial of a young woman with her child.
The Late Bronze Age II occupation levels (7A-B-C) evidence a wide variety of architectural constructions and, in addition to a broad range of local ceramics, imports from all over the Eastern Mediterranean. Among the more remarkable small finds are several seals from the Middle and Late Bronze Age and a Hittite-Luwian hieroglyphic inscription from the Late Bronze Age II context. The material culture of Late Bronze Ade Tweini suggests a web of international relations. In the 14/13th century BC Tweini, most probably ancient Gibala, formed part of the Ugaritic kingdom and was located at its south western border. In the archives of Ugarit Gibala is mentioned in the treaty between the Hittite king Mursili II and Niqmepa, king of Ugarit. On a tablet from the archives of Ugarit (c.1350 BC) we encounter the name of the town Gibala during the reign of King Niqmepa of Ugarit. Niqmepa then makes a pact with Abdianati king of Sianu close to Gibala, which was the border between the two kingdoms.
Around 1200 BC the state of Ugarit and most of the Near Eastern networks of the Late Bronze Age collapsed because of the invasion of the so-called “Sea-Peoples”. Massive destruction layers of the “Sea-Peoples” have not yet been found at Tweini, even though some floors showed traces of fire.
In the following period of decline during the Iron Age I only poor architectural features are attested at Tweini. It would appear that the city underwent a similar process of limited continuity and reoccupation of Late Bronze Age structures, to that observed at other Syrian coastal settlements at the 2nd millennium, such as Ras ibn Hani, Ras el-Bassit, Tell Kazel and Tell Sukas. At Tweini the earliest Early Iron Age I re-occupation is founded on the remains of Late Bronze Age structures and reuses several walls.
Due to the limited nature of the archaeological evidence information on urban development at the beginning of the Iron Age is restricted. Throughout Iron Age I the tell seems to have been only partially inhabited, as shown by the first construction phase of House 3. For the end of Iron Age I several occupation floors are attested and a large variety of ceramics and objects were found in situ. Wether this discontinuity of habitation is a result of intentional destructions, is not clear. At around the same time, after the midst of the 9th century BC, the urban plan of Tell Tweini was profoundly changed. New, big houses are constructed directly above the Late Bronze Age remains. A new city plan with large streets and public buildings is laid across the entire tell. On the western tip of the tell, at the end of the main street, a broad temple stood out from the 6th century BC.
The revival of urban culture at Tell Tweini and the coastal region of Northern Phoenicia may be linked to a developing economic network connecting Cyprus, Phoenicia and the inland of Syria. Imports of Cypriot ceramics at Tweini attest to this improving economical situation.
During the early Iron Age Ugarit Arwad takes a dominant position in this region and Gibala will be part of the kingdom Arwad. That changes when the Assyrians transformed the Gabla plain to their own province. In the Persian time Arwad resumes however his old dominant position in this region.
During the Bronze Age was Gibala connected to the sea through an estuary. By the silting of the estuary in the Iron Age atoned Tweini increasing in significance. By the end of the Iron Age inhabitants left the city and settled on the coast to Gabala and that is the current Jebleh.
In the Hellenistic era Gabala goes to mint his own coins (letters GB) and becomes an independent city. As such, the site is listed on the Tabula Peutinger.


In de Midden Bronstijd was het de gewoonte de overledenen onder de vloeren van de huizen te begraven. Een buitengewone vondst was een groot gemeenschappelijk graf uit ca.1700 v.Chr. Het bevatte de skeletten van 42 volwassenen en 16 kinderen; 160 goed bewaarde keramieken potten, vazen, bronzen pinnen en diverse figuurtjes dienden als grafgiften. Een ander graf betrof de begraving van een jonge vrouw samen met haar kind.

Op een tablet uit de archieven van Ugarit (c.1350 v.C) komen we de plaatsnaam Gibala tegen tijdens de regering van koning Niqmepa van Ugarit. Niqmepa maakt dan een verdrag met Abdianati, de koning van Sianu vlakbij Gibala, dat de grensplaats was.

Op de westelijk punt van de tell, aan het uiteinde van de hoofdstraat, stond een breedkamerige tempel uit de 6e eeuw v.C.

Gedurende het begin van de ijzertijd neemt Arwad de positie Ugarit in deze streek over en Gibala gaat onderdeel uitmaken van het koninkrijk Arwad. Dat verandert wanneer de Assyriƫrs de Gabla vlakte omvormen tot een eigen provincie. In de Perzische tijd herneemt Arwad echter weer zijn oude dominante positie in deze streek.

Tijdens de bronstijd was Gibala verbonden met de zee via een zeearm. Door de verzanding van deze zeearm in de ijzertijd boette Tweini steeds meer aan betekenis in. Tegen het eind van de ijzertijd verlieten de inwoners de stad en vestigden zich aan de zeekust te Gabala en dat is het huidige Jebleh.

In de Hellenistische tijd gaat Gabala zijn eigen munten (GB) slaan en wordt een onafhankelijke stad. Als zodanig wordt de plaats vermeld op de Tabula Peutinger.


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