Archeological site of Samʼal
|Location||Zincirli Höyük, Gaziantep Province, Turkey|
Samʼal, also Zincirli Höyük, is an archaeological site located in the Anti-Taurus Mountains of modern Turkey's Gaziantep Province. It was founded at least as far back as the Early Bronze Age and thrived between 3000 and 2000 BCE, and on the highest part of the upper mound was found a walled citadel of the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BCE). New excavations revealed a monumental complex in the Middle Bronze Age II, and another complex that was destroyed in the mid to late 17th century BCE, maybe by Hititte king Hattusili I. It was largely abandoned during the Hittite and Mitanni periods but flourished again in the Iron Age, initially under Luwian-speaking Neo-Hittites, and by 920 BCE had become a kingdom. In the 9th and 8th century BC it came under control of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and by the 7th century BC had become a directly ruled Assyrian province.
At least from c.1700 to 1650 BCE Zincirli Höyük was a trading hub with the production of wine transported in a specific type of vessel, the globular flask, being part of the trade centered in the ancient Syrian state of Mamma,Zincirli was located only 9 km north of Tilmen Höyük, the capital of the Zalpa/Zalwar kingdom, which eventually became one of the twenty vassal small states of the Yamhad kingdom based on Aleppo. Recent excavations by Chicago-Tubingen Expedition revealed that the supposed palace of Hilani I in Zincirli (believed to be from Iron Age Samʼal period) was actually a big temple from Middle Bronze Age II, lasting roughly from 1800 to 1650 BCE). The archaeological site of Zincirli was abandoned after Hattusili I's sack in 1650 BCE, but later rose again in the Iron Age, eventually becoming a kingdom. With the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Samʼal became a vassal state and later a province of that empire.
Kingdom of Samʼal
|1200 BC-609 BC|
Kingdom of Samʼal (in Samalian Y?diya, in Aramaic Ya'udi) was a middle power of the Middle-East in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE. It was near the Nur Mountains. Samʼal was the capital of the country. Royal steles and stone tablets from the period, of Kilamuwa and Panamuwa II, are the main sources for historical data about this timeperiod. [[File:King Barrekub prays in front of divine symbols. Detail of a stele from Sam'al. 8th century BC. Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul.jpg It became a middle power at the end of the 10th century BCE. It had expanded from being a city state and gained territories from Carchemish, around Adana from Quwê and remained independent. It didn't become part of Cilicia. In 859 BC Alimus was saved with the help of Hayyanu, king of Samʼal. He didn't participate in the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC, but Assyria had been blocked in the Western area. Though the campaign of Assyria in 825 BC occupied the vital territories of Samʼal, Quwê had been defeated, but it had been reorganised as Denyen. After the death of Shalmaneser III, Ya'udi again became independent.
Some rulers of Samʼal had aggressive expansionist politics; others acceded to one of the anti-Assyrian Syrian coalition. Assyrian sources are not clear regarding Samʼal. Ya'udi was one of Assyria's satellite states in the annals of Shalmaneser III. Though around 830 BC Azitawadda, king of Denyen, states Ya'udi is his satellite country – at the same time, Kilamuwa mentions on his stela that he hired Assyria against Denyen. Other sources from the same period mention Ya'udi as a satellite state of Denyen and Assyria wanted to occupy this territory. Kilamuva might offer for Deyen to be a satellite state. Before this, he should defeat his greatest foe, Azitawadda. Assyrians won over Denyen and Samʼal in 825 BC. Samʼal became independent after the death of Shalmaneser III.
There is an alternative opinion which states that Ya'udi and Samʼal were originally separate royal houses and Samʼal, the younger of the two, fought against the Assyrians at Alimus in 859 BC, in 858 BC when Shalmanser III crossed the Euphrates for the first time, and again in 853 BC at the Battle of Qarqar. The Kingdom of Samʼal was founded by Hayyanu and his successor was Ahabbu of Siri'laya (Zincirli) in 854 BC. Whereas Gabar, the founder of Ya'udi, and his successors became a member of the Assyrian satellites. This makes clear why Shalmaneser III lists Ya'udi (Bit-Gabbari) but not Samʼal as a satellite state. The Kingdom of Ya'udi wanted to open a corridor between Assyria and Denyen. It was prevented by the unified Syrian forces. This unity had been dissolved in 825 BC. After the death of Shalmanezer III Denyen couldn't occupy it but the Samalians could. Samʼal annexed Ya'udi and moved into the palace of Kilamuva.
At the end, in 717 BC, Assyria occupied the country under the rule of Sargon II.
The site was excavated in 1888, 1890, 1891, 1894 and 1902 during expeditions led by Felix von Luschan and Robert Koldewey. Each of the expeditions was supported by the German Orient Committee, except for the fourth (1894), which was financed with monies from the Rudolf-Virchow-Stiftung and private donors. There were five excavation reports:
They found a heavily fortified teardrop-shaped citadel, which was surrounded by the as yet unexcavated town and a further enormous double fortification wall with three gates and 100 bastions.
The field diaries of the excavation were lost during World War II.
In August 2006, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago began a new long-term excavation project at the site of Zincirli under the directorship of David Schloen. Seven seasons of excavation have been conducted through 2012.
Among the notable objects found at the site are five giant statues of lions carved from stone, known as the Samʼal lions, which apparently had guarded the gates of the city, but may have been ritually buried together within the citadel.
The German excavations on the citadel recovered large numbers of relief-carved orthostats, along with inscriptions in Aramaic, Phoenician, and Akkadian. These are on exhibit in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, and Istanbul. Also found was the notable Victory stele of Esarhaddon celebrating his victory over Taharqa.
Three royal inscriptions from Ya'udi or Samʼal are particularly informative for the history of the area. The earliest is from the reign of King Panammu I, the others later at 730 BCE. Their language is known as Samalian or Ya'udic. Some scholars including P.-E. Dion and S. Moscati have advanced Samalian as a distinct variety of Old Aramaic. Attempts to establish a rigorous definition of "Aramaic" have led to a conclusion of Samalian as distinct from Aramaic, despite some shared features.
Kilamuwa Stela: an inscription of Prince Kilamuwa of Samal, Pergamon Museum
Hadad Statue with inscription (KAI 214), Pergamon Museum
Panamuwa II inscription (KAI 215)
Bar-Rakib stele I (KAI 216), Istanbul Museum
Bar-Rakib stele III (KAI 218), Pergamon Museum
Stele of Ördek-Burnu in the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient