Circular Cities of Early Bronze Age Syria – An international workshop in Lyon
An international workshop was held from the 21st to the 23rd of November in Lyon at the Maison de l‘Orient et de la Méditerranée (MOM) to present the final results of the Franco-German (ANR/DFG) BADIYAH project entitled “Origins, Structure, Development and Sociology of Circular Cities of the EBA Syria” and organized by Corinne Castel and her team.
The ANR/DFG project is lead for the French part by C. Castel (UMR 5133-Archéorient, Lyon) in partnership with P. Quenet (University of Strasbourg) and for the German part by J.-W. Meyer (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt). The Syrian cooperation is lead by M. aL Maqdissi (DGAM, Damascus).
The project focuses on the historical development and meaning of “Round Cities” (otherwise known as “Kranzhügel”), which appeared at the end of the 4th millennium, persisting into the 3rd millennium BC. Around 3100 BC a unique and local form of urbanization developed in Northern Syria, which was characterized by a specific type of urban planning. The origins of this settlement-type are to be found at Tell Chuera (excavations directed by J.-W. Meyer, Francfurt), but the same phenomenon can be found shortly afterwards at similar sites, such as Khirbet Malhat (excavations directed by P. Quenet, Strasbourg, and A. Sultan, DGAM). During the mid-3rd millennium BC this phenomenon also appears in the Badiyah of Western Syria which is an area straddling the agricultural and steppe regions. Tell Al -Rawda (excavations directed by C. Castel, Lyon and N. Awad, DGAM, Damascus) and Tell Sha’irat (excavations directed by M. Al Maqdassi, DGAM Damascus) are examples of such Round Cities.
The goals of the project were to identify the similarities and differences between Round City settlements, to investigate human-environment relationship and land-use patterns, to explore the role of pastoral groups in these processes, and to define pertinent cultural and economic exchange patterns. Because of the broad scope of these goals, the workshop, like the project itself, was strongly interdisciplinary, involving archaeologists, philologists, paleobotanists, paleozoologists, geomorphologists and geologists. In the final analysis, the contributions presented by those involved in the project as well as by invited specialists from neighboring fields provided some important answers and a series of conclusions – for details, see the Programme Badiyah Conference
The project and its workshop finale proved a great success despite the absence of many Syrian colleagues who were not able to participate due to growing political unrest in their homeland. However, through the active participation of many Syrian doctoral students currently studying at the universities of Lyon and Strasbourg, a number of contributions on current archaeological research in Syria, were presented.
|Opening of the symposium © G. Mouamar (cliquer pour agrandir)||The participants of symposium © G. Mouamar (cliquer pour agrandir)|
In conclusion, I wish to thank all the participants for the wonderful atmosphere provided by this workshop as well as for the stimulating presentations and discussion.
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Jan-Waalke Meyer est professeur d’archéologie orientale
rattaché au département « Vorderasiatische Archäologie »
de l’ « Institut für archäologische Wissenschaften »
Université Goethe de Francfort, Allemagne.