Polish–Syrian Archaeological Mission to Tell Arbid
Type of site:
Settlement site, burial grounds
Northern Syria, Syrian Jazira, upper Khabur basin (the so-called Khabur Triangle)
– Ninevite 5 period (2750–2550 BC)
– Early Dynastic III period (2550–2300 BC)
– Akkadian period (2300–2150 BC)
– Post-Akkadian period (2150–1950 BC)
– Khabur period (1950–1500 BC)
– Mitanni period (1500–1300 BC)
– Neo-Babylonian period (about 6th century BC)
– Hellenistic period (until the 2nd century BC)
Most interesting finds:
– Temple of the Ninevite 5 period, one of the oldest buildings of this type in northern Mesopotamia
– Two richly furnished women’s graves of the Mitanni period
– Relics of domestic and official buildings from different periods
– Khabur Ware period graves
– Numerous examples of glyptics and minor arts, mainly terracottas from different periods (including zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figurines, models of carts, toys, rattles)
History of research:
Dates of PCMA mission’s work:
1996–2010; excavations suspended before 2011 season
The first survey on Tell Arbid was conducted in 1936 by British archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, husband of Agatha Christie. In 2000, an Austrian-American expedition, headed by Prof. Gebhard Seltz from the Oriental Institute of Vienna University and David Nelson Gimbel from Archeos Inc. joined the PCMA UW mission; their research centered on the northern slope of the main tell.
In 2004, a cooperation with a Czech mission from the Masaryk University in Brno, headed by Dr. Inna Mateiciucova, began. The mission conducted surface surveys around Tell Arbid and excavations at the small site of Tell Arbid Abyad dating from the Halaf period.
In 2008, Dr. Rafał Koliński (UAM), a long-term member of the PCMA UW mission, began a three-year research project in the framework of which he studied the Post-Akkadian strata in Sector P (formerly SR).
Description of the site and research:
The site covers about 38 ha and consists of the tell itself, i.e., the so-called upper city (14 ha, rising about 14 m above the level of the plain), and the lower city surrounding it.
Tell Arbid is a multicultural site which was inhabited for a long period of time during the Bronze Age. In antiquity, this region—a flat and fertile steppe—was densely populated and rich. Tell Arbid (its ancient name is unknown) lay half-way between the two biggest centers of this area in the 3rd millennium BC, Tell Brak (ancient Nagar) and Mozan (ancient Urkish).
Well-preserved quarters of the city from the Ninevite 5 period allow for the tracing of the nature of its architecture, the grid of twisting streets, and the appearance of houses with various installations and outhouses.
The most important discovery was a temple from the same period, one of a few such structures in northern Mesopotamia. It was a rectangular solid building measuring 7 m by 10 m with 1.5-m thick walls. Inside stood an altar made of bricks, about 1 m high, the surface of which was covered with white plaster. There was a square hearth directly in front of it and beside it lay a clay censer in the shape of a long column indented at the top. In front of the entrance to the temple there was a 3.5 m-high artificial scarp, a kind of clay-and-mud-brick stepped terrace, which gave the facade a monumental look.
On the summit of the citadel a fragment of a large official building from the Early Dynastic period was found. A facade ornamented with recesses, a decoration reserved for the most important Mesopotamian buildings of representative character, was an indication of its function.
At the turn of the 2nd millennium BC the city became less densely populated. There are fewer buildings in the residential districts from the post-Akkadian (end of the 3rd millennium BC) and Khabur Ware (first half of the 2nd millennium BC) periods and the open spaces between them were used as cemeteries.
During the times of the Kingdom of Mitanni (middle of the 2nd millennium BC) the main tell was abandoned and life continued at its foot (sector A) where remains of a wealthy farm were uncovered. The evidence of its wealth is indicated by two richly furnished female graves which were found on the citadel.
Remains from the Neo-Babylonian and Hellenistic periods are scarce which indicates that the site was not used as intensively as before.
For more links to papers, see the Mission’s profile on Academia.edu
Smogorzewska, A. (2020). Houses with a Central Courtyard. House Concepts in the Late Ninevite 5 Period at Tell Arbid, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, 110(1), 119–124. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/za-2020-0010
Momot, M., (2019). Hellenistic tableware with stamped decoration from Tell Arbid (Syria), in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 495–504.
Piątkowska-Małecka, J., Smogorzewska, A. (2019). “Pigeon broth” and other meat dishes prepared by the people of Tell Arbid in the 3rd millennium BC, in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 521–538.
Rutkowski, Ł., (2019). Late 3rd millennium BC painted pottery from Tell Arbid, in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 621–640.
Sołtysiak, A. (2019). Women from Tell Arbid, in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 640–658.
Szeląg, D.,Wygnańska, Z. (2019). Infant burials in the Ninevite 5 mortuary landscape, in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 689–714.
Wygnańska, Z. (2019). A break in cultural legacy: child grave inventories from Tell Arbid, Syria, in transition from EBA to MBA, Levant, DOI: 10.1080/00758914.2019.1661141
Smogorzewska, A. (2017). Tell Arbid. House and Household in a Changing Town (=PAM Monograph Series 9), Warsaw. https://doi.org/10.31338/uw.9788323540984
Bieliński, P. (2016). Tell Arbid (Hassake), in: Y. Kanjou, A. Tsuneki (eds), A History of Syria in One Hundred Sites, Archaeopress Archaeology.
Bieliński, P. (2016). A Sealing from Tell Arbid: Once More About Seal Impressions on Ceramic Vessels, in: B. Perello, A. Tenu (eds), Parcours d’Orient. Recueil de textes offert a Christine Kempinski, 9–12.
Makowski, M. (2016). Tell Arbid I: Clay Figurines, Warsaw: IKŚiO PAN.
Smogorzewska, A. (2016). The Final Stage of Ninevite 5 Pottery: Morphological Types, Technology and Diachronic Analysis from Tell Arbid (North-East Syria), Iraq 78, 175–214. Doi:10.1017/irq.2016.1
Makowski, M. (2015). Of Men and Equids: Piecing the Clay Images from Tell Arbid Back Together, Études et Travaux 28, 121–140.
Mueller-Bieniek, A., Wasylikowa, K., Smogorzewska, A. (2015). Plant Macrofossils from the Site of Tell Arbid (3rd–2nd Millennium BC ), Northeast Syria. Preliminary Report, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 24/1, 657–674.
Makowski, M. (2014). Terracotta Equid Figurines from Tell Arbid. New Evidence on Equids, their Equipment and Exploitation in North Mesopotamia During Third and First Half of Second Millennium BC, Études et Travaux 27, 257–278.
Pieńkowska, A. (2014). The Fire and Light. Mesopotamian Lamps from Polish Archaeological Excavations on Tell Arbid, in: P. Bieliński et alii (eds), Proceedings of the 8th ICAANE, 30 April–4 May 2012, University of Warsaw, vol. 3, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 3–16.
Reiche, A. (2014). Tell Abu Hafur ‘East’, Tell Arbid (North-Eastern Syria) and Nemrik (Northern Iraq) as Examples of Small-Scale Rural Settlements in Upper Mesopotamia in the Mittani Period, in: D. Bonatz (ed.), The Archaeology of Spaces. The Upper Mesopotamian Piedmont in the Second Millennium BCE, (=Topoi Berlin Studies of the Ancient World 12), Berlin-Boston, De Gruyter, 43–59.
Smogorzewska, A. (2014). Cooking, Heating and Processing. The Function of Fire Installations in Household Activities at Tell Arbid (NE Syria), in: P. Bieliński et alii (eds), Proceedings of the 8th ICAANE, 30 April–4 May 2012, University of Warsaw, 3, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 17–30.
Szymczak, A. (2014). Khabur Ware Period Objects of Unbaked Clay from Tell Arbid: a Short Note on the Second Set of Finds, in: P. Bieliński et alii (eds), Proceedings of the 8th ICAANE, 30 April–4 May 2012, University of Warsaw 2, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 757–764.
Wygnańska, Z. (2014). The Ancestor Cult in the Middle Bronze Age at Tell Arbid, Syria, in: P. Pfälzner, H. Niehr, E. Pernicka, S. Lange, T. Köster (eds), Contextualising Grave Inventories in the Ancient Near East. Proceedings of a Workshop at the London 7th ICAANE in April 2010 and an International Symposium in Tübingen in November 2010, both Organised by the Tübingen Post-Graduate School “Symbols of the Dead“ (=Qatna Studien Supplementa 3), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 39–49.
Bielińska, D. (2013). “Suckling Antelopes” from Tell Arbid – a Rare Iconographic Motif from the 3rd Millennium BC, Études et Travaux 26/1, 121–126.
Piątkowska-Małecka, J., Smogorzewska, A. (2013). Animal Bone Remains from Tell Arbid (Season 2009) — Archaeozoological Analysis, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 22, 438–449.
Reiche, A. (2013). Polskie wykopaliska w Tell Arbid (Syria) w latach 1996–2012 // Polish Excavations in Tell Arbid (Syria) in 1996–2012, in: Dolińska, M., Górecki, T., Reiche, A., Twardecki, A., Zbiory Sztuki Starożytnej i Wschodniochrześcijańskiej a wykopaliska archeologiczne Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie // The Collection of Ancient Christian Art and Archaeological Excavations of the National Museum in Warsaw, Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie. Nowa Seria // Journal of the National Museum in Warsaw. New Series 2(38), 39–43, 51–54.
Reiche, A., Smogorzewska, A. (2013). Ninevite 5 Kitchen from Tell Arbid (Area W), Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 22, 371–386.
Smogorzewska, A. (2013). Fenestrated Pot Stands in Ninevite 5 Pottery Tradition: New Data from Tell Arbid (North-East Syria), Akkadica 132/2, 187–199.
Wasylikowa, K., Koliński, R. (2013). The Role of Plants in the Economy of Tell Arbid, North-East Syria, in the Post-Akkadian Period and Middle Bronze Age, Acta Palaeobotanica 53(2).
Smogorzewska, A. (2012). Fire Installations in Household Activities. Archaeological Study from Tell Arbid (North-East Syria), Paléorient 38/1, 229–249.
Bieliński, P. (2012). Tell Arbid 2008-2009. Preliminary Report on the Results of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Seasons of Polish-Syrian Excavations, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 21, 511–536.
Koliński, R. (2012). Generation Count at Tell Arbid, Sector P, in: H. Weiss (ed.) Seven Generations since the Fall of Akkad, (=Studia Chaburensia 3), Wiesbaden, 109–128.
Koliński, R. (2012). Badania Instytutu Prahistorii UAM na Tell Arbid (północno-wschodnia Syria) w latach 2008–2009, Folia Praehistorica Posnaniensia 16m, 215–250.
Piątkowska-Małecka, J., Wygnańska, Z. (2012). Animal Remains from Middle Bronze Age Graves at Tell Arbid (Syria), Światowit 9 (50)/A (2011), 67–80.
Raccidi, M. (2012). Chariot Terracotta Models from Tell Arbid and Tell Barri. A Typological and Functional Analysis, in: Proceedings of the 7th International Congress of the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East 3, 673–682.
Smogorzewska, A. (2012). Jazirah Burnished Ware from Tell Arbid and its Northern Affiliations, Anatolica 38, 129–147.
Sołtysiak, A., Koliński, R. (2012). Preliminary Report on Human Remains from Tell Arbid, Sector P. Excavation Seasons 2008–2010, Światowit 9 (50)/A (2011), 49–66.
Wygnańska, Z. (2012). Mortuary Practices of Early Second Millennium BC on Tell Arbid (NE Syria). Continuity and Changes, in: N. Laneri, P. Pfaelzner, S. Valentini (eds), Looking North. The Socio-economic Dynamics of the Northern Mesopotamian and Anatolian Regions during the Late Third and Early Second Millennium B.C., Studien zur Urbanisierung Nordmesopotamiens (SUN), Serie D, 1, Wiesbaden, 229–236.
Koliński, R. (2011). Report on the Activities of the Polish-Syrian Mission to Tell Arbid, Governorate of Hasake, Spring Season of 2009, in: A. Abdulrahman (ed.), Chronique Archéologique en Syrie 5-2009, Damascus, 85–96.
Szeląg, D. (2011). Two Ovens from the first half of the 3rd Millennium BC at Tell Arbid. Evidence for Grain Processing?, Światowit 49/A (2009–2010), 113–120.
Koliński, R. (2010). Report on the Activities of the Polish-Syrian Mission to Tell Arbid, Governorate of Hasake, Spring Season of 2008, in: A. Abdulrahman (ed.), Chronique Archéologique en Syrie, 4–2008, Damascus.
Piątkowska-Małecka, J., Smogorzewska, A. (2010). Animal Economy at Tell Arbid, North-East Syria, in the Third Millennium BC, Bioarchaeology of the Near East 4/2010, 25–43.
Smogorzewska, A. (2010). Technological marks on pottery vessels. Study of evidence from Tell Arbid, Tell Rad Shaqrah and Tell Jassa el-Gharbi (Northeastern Syria), Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 19, 555–564.
Sołtysiak, A. (2010). Short Fieldwork Reports: Tell Arbid (Syria), Seasons 1996–2010, Bioarchaeology of the Near East 4: 45–48.
Bieliński, P. (2009). Some Cylinder Seal Impressions on Pottery from Tell Arbid, in: O. Drewnowska (ed.), Here and There. Across the Ancient Near East. Studies in Honour of Krystyna Łyczkowska, Warsaw, 1–8.
Bieliński, P. (2009). Tell Arbid w północno-wschodniej Syrii, in: B. Kaim (ed.), Blisko i daleko. Księga jubileuszowa Instytutu Archeologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warszawa, 105–114.
Smogorzewska, A. (2009/2010). Andirons from Tell Arbid. Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Studies, Etudes et Travaux 23, 137–150.
Daszkiewicz, M. (2008). Composition and Technology of a Glass Vessel from Tell Arbid, Damaszener Mitteilungen 15 (2006), 95–99.
Koliński, R. (2008). Sur les traces de Max E.L. Mallowan, in: M. el-Maqdissi (ed.), Pionniers et protagonistes de l’archéologie syrienne (1860–1960). D’Ernest Renan a Sélim Abdulhak, Damas-DGAM 2008: 292–293.
Koliński, R., Reiche, A. (2008). After the Fall of Assyria, in: D. Bonatz, R. M. Czihon, F. J. Kroeppner (eds), Fundstellen. Gesamelte Schriften zur Archäologie und Geschichte Altvorderasiens ad honorem Hartmut Kühne, Wiesbaden, 51–59.
Moskalewska-Lasota, A., Gręzak, A., Tomek, T. (2008). Animal Remains from the Mitanni Grave at Tell Arbid, Damaszener Mitteilungen 15 (2006), 101–104.
Smogorzewska, A. (2008). Mitanni Grave at Tell Arbid, Damaszener Mitteilungen 15 (2006), 67–93.
Smogorzewska, A., Piątkowska-Małecka, J. (2008). Animal Economy at Tell Arbid (Northern Mesopotamia) in 3000–2000 BC, in: D. Makowiecki et al. (eds), Archaeozoological Research in Poland and Middle Europe. Data-Methods-Interpretations. Environment and Culture 5, 83–85.
Smogorzewska, A. (2007). Odkrywanie wielokulturowości – wykopaliska archeologiczne w Tell Arbid, Uniwersytet Warszawski 4 (34), 18–19.
Koliński, R. (2007). Sir Max Mallowan’s Excavations at Tell Arbid, 1936, Iraq 69, 73–115.
Wygnańska, Z. (2007). Kult przodków na Tell Arbid w okresie środkowego brązu, in: W. Dzieduszycki, J. Wrzesiński (eds), Środowisko pośmiertne człowieka. Funeralia Lednickie — spotkanie 9, Poznań, 227–235.
Ławecka, D. (2006). Late Ninevite 5 Structures in the Eastern District at Tell Arbid, N-E Syria, Orient Express 3, 71–3.
Piątkowska-Małecka, J., Wygnańska, Z. (2006). Szczątki zwierzęce z grobowca chaburskiego na stanowisku Tell Arbid (Syria) jako przejaw wierzeń i rytuałów pogrzebowych, in: Zwierzę jako sacrum w pradziejach i starożytności. Materiały z sympozjum naukowego w Busku Zdroju, 1, Kielce, 77–99.
Reiche, A. (2006). Polish Archaeological Research in North-Eastern Syria, Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 42 (2001), 95–106.
Piątkowska-Małecka, J., Koliński, R. (2006). Animal Remains from the Polish Excavations at Tell Arbid, North-East Syria, in: N. Benecke (ed.), Beiträge zur Archäozoologie und prähistorische Anthropologie 5, Ludwigsdorf, 22–31.
Sołtysiak, A. (2006). Short Fieldwork Reports: Tell Arbid (Syria), Seasons 1996–2002, Studies in Historical Anthropology 3 (2003), 135–136.
Sołtysiak, A. (2006). Studies on Human Remains in Syria and Iraq, Seasons 2001–2002. A General Overview, Studies in Historical Anthropology 3 (2003), 131–134.
Herbich, T. (2005). Geophysical Survey, 2004, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 16, 490–496.
Ławecka, D. (2005). Tell Arbid. Polskie badania w północno-wschodniej Syrii, Archeologia Żywa 31/1, 5–11.
Smogorzewska, A. (2004). Late Ninevite 5 Quarter at Tell Arbid, Orient Express 2004/3, 69–71.
Koliński, R. (2002). Bulls from Tell Arbid, in: P. Taracha (ed.), Silva Anatolica. Papers presented to Maciej Popko on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, Warsaw, 211–224.
Bielińska, D. (2001). A Third Millennium B.C. Cylinder Seal from Tell Arbid, Études et Travaux 19, 42–44.
Bieliński, P. (2000). An Early Iron Age Stamp Seal from Tell Arbid, in: Les civilisations du Bassin Méditerranéen. Hommages a Joachim Śliwa, Kraków, 327–330.
Bieliński, P. (2000). Tell Arbid, The Fourth Season, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 11, 273–284.
Smogorzewska, A., Daszkiewicz, M. (1999). Brief Report on Chemical Analysis of Metallic Ware from Tell Arbid with Special Reference to “Storage” Metallic Ware, Orient Express, 1999/1, 25–27.
Lyonnet, B. (ed.), (2000). Prospection Archéologique Haut-Khabur Occidental (Syrie du N.E.), vol. 1, Beyrouth.
Mallowan, M.E.L. (1937). The Excavations at Tell Chagar Bazar and an Archaeological Survey of the Habur Region. 2nd Campaign, 1936, Iraq 4, 91–177.