November 22, 2013

Ziyaret Tepe was founded in the Early Bronze Age, c. 3000 BC. The size and nature of the Early Bronze Age settlement is not known since the remains of this early age remain buried under many occupational layers. Five separate levels dating to the 2nd millennium BC were excavated on the high mound, including the use of the citadel during the Mittani and Middle Assyrian periods. The Assyrians first came to the region in the late 13th century BC and latter cuneiform texts tell us that they founded the city of Tušhum, eventually abandoning the site and region during a period of imperial weakness. In the Early Iron Age, c. 1070 – 882 BC, Ziyaret Tepe was largely unoccupied, although there are found a number of large storage pits dug into the citadel which attest to its use by indigenous peoples following the Middle Assyrian abandonment. It is possible that grain was stored in these large pits, although little evidence for architecture has been found.

Inscriptions found elsewhere describe how King Ashurnasirpal II returned to Ziyaret Tepe in 882 BC and rebuilt the Assyrian city, turning it into a major urban center of the northern Assyrian imperial frontier. The city then housed a palace, temples, fortifications, and a large number of Assyrian bureaucrats and soldiers. Following the collapse of the Assyrian empire, the city was abandoned in 611 BC. Although it was used sporadically afterwards, Ziyaret Tepe never again attained urban status. Evidence for occupation in the Late Iron Age, Late Roman, Medieval, and Ottoman periods has been recovered, but only as a small agricultural village or pastoral encampment.