Tell Fray

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Tell Fray
Tell Fray is located in Syria
Tell Fray
Shown within Syria
Alternative nameYakharisha or Shaparu
RegionRaqqa Governorate
Coordinates35°54′13″N 38°23′03″E / 35.903545°N 38.384198°E / 35.903545; 38.384198
PeriodsLate Bronze Age
Site notes
Excavation dates1972–1973
ArchaeologistsAdnan Bounni, Paolo Matthiae
Conditionflooded by Lake Assad
Public accessno

Tell Fray is a tell, or settlement mound, on the east bank of the Euphrates in Raqqa Governorate, northern Syria. The archaeological site takes its name from an ancient irrigation canal, hence 'Fray' or 'Little Euphrates'.[1]


It was excavated in 1972 and 1973 as a joint Syrian–Italian operation under the direction of Adnan Bounni of the Syrian Service of Archaeological Excavations and Paolo Matthiae, the excavator of Ebla. The operation was part of the UNESCO-coordinated international effort to excavate as many sites as possible in the area that would be flooded by the reservoir of the Tabqa Dam, which was being constructed at that time.[2] Tell Fray disappeared under the rising waters of Lake Assad in 1974.[1]

The excavations revealed occupation layers dating to the 14th century BCE, or Late Bronze Age. There were at least two temples in this city, one of them probably devoted to the god Teshub. A number of houses were also excavated. Two of these houses belonged to important officials. One of these was possibly a local representative or governor of the Hittite king, whereas the other was responsible for the maintenance of the canals in the area.[1][3]

The clay tablets found at Tell Fray indicate that the site belonged to the influence sphere of Ashtata (Astata), centred on Emar, which in turn fell under Carchemish, upstream from both Emar and Tell Fray.[4]

The site was destroyed by fire in the 13th century BCE, probably by the Middle Assyrian kings Shalmaneser I or Tukulti-Ninurta I, when the Assyrians conquered this area.

Based on the cuneiform texts found in Tell Fray and elsewhere, it has been proposed that the name of the ancient site was either Yakharisha or Shaparu.[1] Finds from the excavation are now on display in the National Museum of Aleppo.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Bounni 1988, pp. 368–369
  2. ^ Bounni 1977, p. 4
  3. ^ Akkermans & Schwartz 2003, p. 345
  4. ^ Wilkinson 2004, p. 6
  5. ^ Bounni 1977, p. 6


  • Akkermans, Peter M. M. G.; Schwartz, Glenn M. (2003), The archaeology of Syria. From complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (ca. 16,000–300 BC), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-79666-0
  • Bounni, Adnan (1977), "Campaign and exhibition from the Euphrates in Syria", The Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 44: 1–7, ISSN 0066-0035, JSTOR 3768538
  • Bounni, Adnan (1988), "Découvertes archéologiques récentes en Syrie", Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (in French), 132 (2): 361–380, doi:10.3406/crai.1988.14616
  • Wilkinson, Tony J. (2004), On the margin of the Euphrates. Settlement and land use at Tell es-Sweyhat and in the upper Lake Assad region (PDF), Oriental Institute Publications, vol. 124, Chicago: Oriental Institute, ISBN 1-885923-29-5