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The Johns Hopkins/University of Amsterdam Joint Expedition to Tell Umm el-Marra, Syria

Region and Site
Urban Origins: The Early Bronze Age (ca. 2700-2000 BC)
Collapse: Middle Bronze I (ca. 2000-1800 BC)
Urban Regeneration: Middle Bronze II (ca. 1800-1600 BC)
Imperial Absorption: Late Bronze (ca. 1600-1200 BC)
Occupation after the Bronze Age
Conclusions and Acknowledgments
Life in the Field
News and Notes
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Project Directors
Glenn M. Schwartz
Department of Near Eastern Studies
The Johns Hopkins University
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore MD 21218 USA
Hans H. Curvers
Amsterdam Archaeology Center
University of Amsterdam
The Netherlands/
Beirut City Centre Archaeological Salvage Project
Beirut, Lebanon

Glenn M. SchwartzHans H. Curvers


In 1994, the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Amsterdam inaugurated a long-term program of archaeological research based at Umm el-Marra, located in the Jabbul plain of western Syria. The primary goal of the project is the investigation of the emergence, development, and episodes of decline of a west Syrian urban society from the Early to the Late Bronze periods (ca. 3000-1200 BC). In the 1970’s, excavations at Ebla revealed that western Syria witnessed the birth of a distinctive urban civilization in the third millennium BC. Study of the development of this civilization furnishes an important new perspective on the rise of cities and states in the Near East, providing an alternative to the traditional paradigms from Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Map of Syria, with Jabbul plain inset.Map of Syria, with Jabbul plain inset

Chronology of western Syria in the Bronze Age
Chronology of western Syria
in the Bronze Age

Among the problems to be considered are the origins of complex society in the third millennium B.C. (Early Bronze Age); the collapse of cities and states at the end of Early Bronze; urban regeneration and formation of the Yamkhad state in the early second millennium B.C. (Middle Bronze Age); and incorporation of the region into the Mitannian and Hittite empires in the mid-late second millennium B.C. (Late Bronze). Occupations at Umm el-Marra in the later first millennium BC and early first millennium AD furnish an opportunity to investigate local developments in the Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods.

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