Tell Amarna

Tell Amarna

  • Project name:

    The work was conducted as part of rescue excavations related to the construction of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates

  • Type of site:

    Settlement site


    Northern Syria
    Middle Euphrates Valley

    Geographical/historical region: Euphratensis


    – From the Halaf period (6th millennium BC) through the Byzantine period (5th century AD)

Most interesting finds:

– Painted fragments of pottery vessels from the Halaf period
– Ceramic vessels from the Bronze Age
– Terracotta figurines from the Bronze and Iron Ages
– Cylindrical seal from the Bronze Age
– Oil lamps from the Hellenistic period
– Remains of an early Christian church
– Floor mosaics dated to the first half of the 5th century AD

History of research:

– Salvage excavations conducted by the mission from Université de Liège in 1991–1998.
– In 1998, the remains of a Byzantine church with mosaics were uncovered.
– In 2000–2001, the church was excavated by archaeologists and the mosaics were transferred to Damascus.
– From November 2004 to March 2005 fragments of mosaics were under conservation in Damascus.


Önhan Tunca (Université de Liège)
Tomasz Waliszewski (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw
Krzysztof Chmielewski (Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw)

Description of the site and research:

During excavations conducted in Tell Amarna on the north of Syria by a team of Belgian archaeologists from the University of Liège, directed by Prof. Önhan Tunca, fragmentarily preserved ruins of a Byzantine church were found near the ancient remains of a 5 thousand-year-old settlement. These relics are dated to the end of the 4th century–beginning of the 5th century AD. Archaeologists and conservators from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, under the direction of Dr. Tomasz Waliszewski and Dr. Krzysztof Chmielewski, were asked to cooperate in restoring and interpreting this find. Due to the threat posed to the excavation site by agricultural works the mosaics were raised up and deposited in the storerooms of the Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées of the Arab Republic of Syria.

Four years were needed to obtain the financial resources necessary for performing their conservation. Work conducted in Damascus in the autumn of 2004 and winter of 2005 by Polish, Syrian and Greek conservators was financed by the European Commission as part of the Culture 2000 program [Couleur de la chrétienté de l’Orient vers l’Occident. Une église du 5e siècle et ses mosaïques mises au jour à Tell Amarna (Syrie)].

An integral part of the project was an exhibition which was shown to the Belgian public in the Royal Museum of Mariemont in June 2005. The restored mosaics and other objects from the excavations were on display in the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw from 31 August to 2 October 2005, after which they were returned to Syria.

Project bibliography:

Tunca, Ö., Waliszewski, T. & Koniordos, V. (Eds.) (2011). Tell Amarna (Syrie) V. La basilique byzantine et ses mosaïques, PEETERS, Louvain–Paris–Dudley (MA); (=Publications de la Mission archéologique de l’Université de Liège en Syrie, vol. 5).

Tunca, Ö., Waliszewski, T. & Koniordos, V., (Eds.) (2005). Tell Amarna in Syria. From the 6th millenium BC painted pottery to the Byzantine mosaics, Catalogue of the exhibition, Musée Royal de Mariemont (19.06–15.08.2005) – State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw (30.08–2.10.2005). Bruksela–Warszawa.

Tunca, O., Waliszewski, T., Koniordos, V. (2005). Tell Amarna w Syrii – Barwy chrześcijaństwa; Od malowanej ceramiki z VI tysiąclecia p.n.e. do bizantyjskich mozaik // Tell Amarna in Syria; From the 6th Millennium BC Painted Pottery to the Byzantine Mosaics. Culture Lab éditions, Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne, Bruksela–Warszawa.


Posted in: