Latest Findings & Observations

About the Johns Hopkins/University of Amsterdam Joint Expedition Umm el-Marra, Syria

Umm el-Marra, a regional center founded in the period of urban emergence and occupied throughout the Bronze Age, provides a document of the changing fortunes of a west Syrian Bronze Age center and affords insight into the transformations of the society it was part of. Although the identification of Umm el-Marra with Tuba has not yet been proven, it remains probable given the existence of a wealthy elite at the site in the Early Bronze Age, the community’s resurgence in the Yamhad period, and its abandonment by the end of Late Bronze, the latest period in which Tuba is mentioned.

In our next stage of research, we hope to continue the excavation of the Umm el-Marra Acropolis Center, investigating the Early Bronze elite tomb complex and the Middle Bronze platform above it, acquiring new evidence on elite ideology, mortuary behavior, and communal ritual in the third and second millennia BC. In addition, the lower parts of the tell require further investigation to complement the results on the acropolis.

Findings & Observations

Baby burial with Middle Bronze I painted jug
Collapse: Middle Bronze I (ca. 2000-1800 BC, Umm el-Marra Period IIId)

In the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC, many Syrian cities suffered a reduction in their size or were abandoned altogether. Debate over the nature of this “collapse” and the reasons for it is vigorous and ongoing. At Umm el-Marra, urban troubles are attested by an abandonment of the Acropolis East and other locations […]

Middle Bronze II cylinder seal and impression
Urban Regeneration: Middle Bronze II (ca. 1800-1600 BC, Umm el-Marra Period IIIa-c)

Major change occurs in Middle Bronze II, probably at the same time that the powerful Yamhad kingdom based at Aleppo makes its appearance. At Umm el-Marra, excavations revealed an energetic program of public works including new earth and cobble ramparts encircling the site and evidence of a mudbrick city wall on top. Inside the city […]

Imperial Absorption: Late Bronze (ca. 1600-1200 BC, Umm el-Marra Period II)

Western Syria was incorporated into large, multi-regional empires in the mid-late second millennium BC. First to conquer the Jabbul region was Mitanni, centered in the Khabur area, later to be displaced in the later 14th century by the empire of the Hittites from Anatolia. In this period at Umm el-Marra, there is no evidence of […]

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