Tell Qarqur


Tell Qarqur is a large, multi-period mound located in northwest Syria on the Orontes River, 5km south of the modern town of Jisr al-Shurgur.  The high mound of the site rises some 30 meters above the surrounding floodplain, and together with a lower mound to the north, covers approximately 12 hectares, making it one of the most prominent sites in the lower Orontes Valley.


The site is perhaps best known for its likely association with the Iron Age city of Qarqar, the location of a major battle in 853 BC between the armies of the Neo-Assyrian king Shalmaneser III and a coalition of Levantine city states.  In part because of the site’s historic significance, Tell Qarqur was initially targeted for excavations by the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in the early 1980s.  Rudolph Dornemann (ASOR) later directed excavations from 1993-2009, with Jesse Casana (Dartmouth College) directing survey, geophysics, and excavations from 2005-2010.


Archaeological evidence shows that Tell Qarqur possesses an extraordinarily long history of occupation, with a nearly continuous record of settlement from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (c. 7500 BC) through the Mamluk period (c. AD 1450).  Excavations have revealed significant exposures of the Early Bronze Age IV through Middle Bronze I (c. 2400-1800 BC), including a long-lived temple, an administrative building, and a food processing area.  A terminal Late Bronze Age (c. 1150 BC) destruction on the high mound was followed by a long history of Iron Age occupation. A stone-built gateway and fortification system was constructed in the Iron Age II and continued in use through the Hellenistic period, while Iron Age domestic structures have been found across the site.  Later remains include a Late Roman church complex on the low mound, a Crusader-period town and fort, and a Mamluk village at the southern base of the mound.  The long history of occupation at Qarqur, combined with meticulous excavation methods and intensive sampling of ceramics, botanical and faunal remains, provides a nuanced view of the local material culture sequence, as well as insights into changing agricultural and subsistence strategies throughout the Holocene.