The Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli is conducting a long-term, large-scale exploration of an Iron Age city in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border. At the site of Zincirli Höyük, the extensive ruins of the ancient walled city of Sam'al are buried, nestled in a fertile valley surrounded by heavily forested mountains.
Close to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River, Sam'al served a crucial purpose as a strategic city for trade and commerce at its height. Three thousand years ago, at the time of the biblical kings of Israel, this 40-hectare (100-acre) city was the capital of a small but powerful kingdom. The city had a monumental palace, massive outer walls, and ornate city gates adorned with sculpted stone reliefs.
Led by Dr. David Schloen, an academic staff of thirty to forty archaeologists and archaeology students dig at Zincirli each summer with the help of hired workers recruited from villages in the vicinity. Active for four years now, many more seasons are planned in order to excavate large areas of the ancient city and thus gain new insights into the culture, society, and economy of the kingdom of Sam'al - and, by extension, other Iron Age kingdoms of the ancient Levant.
The expedition is using both advanced remote sensing techniques and actual excavation to explore the neighborhoods and households in the extensive lower town. These explorations have already resulted in major surprise discoveries, such as the magnificent Kuttamuwa stele (at right) with its carved stone relief images and its inscription describing the Sam'alian concept of the soul. A pledge to this project is an investment in further uncovering the rich history of Sam'al and its relationship to other Levantine cultures.
For more information, visit the Zincirli website.
David Schloen is Associate Professor of Syro-Palestinian Archaeology in the University of Chicago. He received a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Toronto in 1983 and a PhD in archaeology and biblical studies from Harvard University in 1995. His research focuses on the society, economy, and culture of the kingdoms that flourished along the eastern Mediterranean coast and adjacent highlands in the period of archaic urban civilization from 3000 to 500 BC, among which were the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
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