2017 Grant Recipient
Tilmen Höyük – The Excavations in the Lower Town
The grant will support the publication program of the final report on the excavations of the lower town at Tilmen Höyük, a capital city of the Middle Bronze Age located at the fringes of the North Syrian Plains (Gaziantep province, South-Eastern Turkey). The publication will cover the results of the excavations undertaken between 2003 and 2008 by the joint Turco-Italian team directed by N. Marchetti, and will include a detailed analysis of topography, stratigraphy, architecture, ceramics and finds.
The site of Tilmen Höyük lies in the Islahiye valley, which connects the lower Orontes valley to the central Taurus southern piedmont. The region belongs to the Inner Syria cultural contexts, and held a highly strategic significance, over the course of time, for the connections between Upper Mesopotamian and Levantine lowlands on the one hand the Anatolian highlands on the other. Settled since the LC period, the city attained its major flourishing during MBA 2, when it is probably to be identified with ancient Zalbar/Zalwar. Key evidence suggest that the site hosted a Babylonian trading station, which was part of a network parallel to that of Assur running from the Middle Euphrates to Cilicia. With its massively enclosed lower town and fortified acropolis, the ‘Cyclopean’ basalt blocks architecture, Tilmen Höyük is one of the most monumental cities of the area in this period.
Valentina Orsi is an archaeologist of the Ancient Near East working in Upper Mesopotamia, Central and South-Eastern Anatolia. Her research interests center on material culture studies, with a special focus on ceramic production as related to aspects of continuity and discontinuity in the long-term perspectives, cross-cultural interactions and socio-economic and political phenomena. After a PhD from the University of Florence on the transition between the Early and the Middle Bronze Age in Upper Mesopotamia, she directed a post-doctoral research project on Central Anatolian ceramic traditions from the Bronze to the Iron Ages. She co-organized several national and international conferences, such as ‘Sacred Landscapes of the Hittites and Luwians’ (Florence, 2014); ‘Ricerche in Anatolia Centrale’ (Florence, 2009), and the ‘16th Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology’ (Florence, 2012). She taught Near Eastern Ceramic Analysis and Archaeology and Art History of the Ancient Near East, and conducted archaeological research in Syria (Tell Barri, Tell Mozan), Turkey (Tilmen Höyük, Uşaklı Höyük), and Iraq (Qaladze). She is member of the scientific board of the series STUDIA ASIANA, and she is the author of several publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, series and conference proceedings, including the book Crisi e Rigenerazione nella valle dell'Alto Khabur (Siria) (Florence 2011); the edited books SOMA 2012. Identity and Connectivity (Oxford 2013), and Sacred Landscapes of Hittite and Luwians (Florence 2015).