Tell Brak (Syria)

Tell Brak is the largest ancient site in north-eastern Syria and one of the most important early urban centres of northern Mesopotamia. Today the remains cover an area of over forty hectares. Tell Brak was first excavated by Max Mallowan in 1937-8 when he found the remains of early religious practices represented by hundreds of votive objects, including so-called 'eye' idols (small figurines with pronounced eyes) of the fourth millennium BC. Mallowan also revealed a massive building of the Agade and Ur III periods, which may have been a palace or garrison.

Work has been conducted at the site since 1976 by David and Joan Oates. Their most important discoveries at Tell Brak include one of the earliest cylinder seals and evidence of contact with south Mesopotamia during the fourth millennium and monumental architecture of the Akkadian period. During this early period the entire site was occupied but by the second millennium the size of the settlement had shrunk. Nonetheless a huge palace complex, dating to the time of the Mitannian empire (about 1500-1360 BC), shows that Tell Brak was still an important site. Increasingly, occupation was restricted to the highest portion of the tell. There is some limited evidence of Hellenistic occupation but in Roman times there is no evidence from the tell itself. It has been suggested that Tell Brak was known as Nagar in antiquity.

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