Tell Fekheriye

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Tell Fekheriye
تل الفخيرية
Tell Fekheriye, Syria
Tell Fekheriye is located in Near East
Tell Fekheriye
Tell Fekheriye
Shown within Near East
Tell Fekheriye is located in Syria
Tell Fekheriye
Tell Fekheriye
Tell Fekheriye (Syria)
Alternative nameSikkan
LocationRas al-Ayn, Al-Hasakah Governorate, Syria
RegionUpper Mesopotamia
Coordinates36°50′24″N 40°4′7″E / 36.84000°N 40.06861°E / 36.84000; 40.06861Coordinates: 36°50′24″N 40°4′7″E / 36.84000°N 40.06861°E / 36.84000; 40.06861
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins
Female figurine from Tell Fekheriye (c. 9000–7000 B.C.)
Male figurine from Tell Fekheriye (c. 9000–7000 B.C.)
Two Neolithic figurines (9000–7000 BC), gypsum with bitumen and stone inlays, excavated in Tell Fekheriye.
Exhibited in the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago, USA.

Tell Fekheriye (often spelled as Tell el-Fakhariya or Tell Fecheriye, among other variants), is an ancient site in the Khabur River basin in the Al Hasakah Governorate of northern Syria.[1] It is securely identified as the site of Sikkan, attested since c. 2000 BC.[2] Sikkan was part of the Aramaean kingdom of Bit Bahiani in the early 1st millennium BC. In the area, several mounds, called tells, can be found in close proximity: Tell Fekheriye, Ra's al-'Ayn, and Tell Halaf, site of the Aramean and Neo-Assyrian city of Guzana. During the excavation, the Tell Fekheriye bilingual inscription was discovered at the site, which provides the source of information about Hadad-yith'i.

In the early 20th century Tell Fekheriye was suggested as the site of Washukanni, the capital of Mitanni, but the claim is unconfirmed.[3] Many scholars opposed this theory including Michael Roaf, Peter Akkermans, David Oates, Joan Oates and Edward Lipiński.[2][4][5]


The site of Tell Fekheriye was occupied as early as the Akkadian period. The limited excavations so far conducted have shown substantial developments in the Middle Assyrian, Mitanni and Neo-Assyrian periods.

Proposed association with Washukanni[edit]

The Neo-Assyrian city Sikan at nearby Ra's al-'Ayn was identified by Dietrich Opitz as the capital of Mitanni, Washukanni.[6][7] The name Sikan was then believed to be an Assyrianized version of its Hurrian, or Indo-Aryan original, becoming (Wa-)Sikan(-ni). No epigraphic, glyphic or other archaeological evidence supporting this identification has yet emerged from excavations at this or other sites.[8] The identification thus rests on a purely etymologic basis.[citation needed] The etymology is challenged by Edward Lipiński, who points out that Sikan is a Semitic name (meaning stele) already attested for the site circa 2000 BC.[2][9] A clay tablet sent from Washukanni to Egypt was chemically analyzed and compared with samples from Sikan; the result was "no-match".[8]


The site is around 90 hectares in area, 12 of which are a high mound. Tell Fakhariyah came to the attention of Max von Oppenheim in the early 1900s. In 1929, during his excavations at Tell Halaf, he dispatched Felix Langenegger and Hans Lehmann to the site to do a field survey, resulting in the production of a contour map.[10] In 1940, a team from the Oriental Institute of Chicago and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, led by Calvin W. McEwan, and which included Harold D. Hill, worked for a short period there, conducted several soundings, developed a contour map of the site, and collected various pottery and epigraphic objects.[11] The later included 12 tablets and some fragments. The areas explored were mainly Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian. In 1955, Anton Moortgat conducted two soundings at Tell Fakhariyah, dated to the Mitanni empire period.[12][13] A brief excavation occurred in 2001 by the University of Halle-Wittenberg and the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums.[14] After a survey in 2005, a team from the Free University of Berlin and SAHI - Slovak archeological and historical institute and the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums resumed work at Tell Fakhariyah for a month in 2006. Excavations continued in 2007 for a period of 8 weeks.[15][16][17] In the 2009 season, 11 Middle Assyrian cuneiform tablets were recovered from a layer early in the post-Mitanni period of the site. In 2010, 40 texts and text fragments were found in the same context. Preliminary translation shows them to be administrative in nature. Eponyms link some to the reigns of Shalmaneser I and Tukulti-Ninurta I.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ L. Braidwood, Stone artifacts in C McEwan, Soundings at Tell Fakhariyah(Chicargo University Press, 1958 page 53-55.
  2. ^ a b c Lipiński, Edward (2000). The Aramaeans: Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion. Peeters Publishers. p. 120. ISBN 978-90-429-0859-8.
  3. ^ K. Lawson Younger (2007). Ugarit at Seventy-Five. p. 146.
  4. ^ D. T. Potts (2012). A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. p. 570.
  5. ^ David Oates; Joan Oates; Helen McDonald (1997). Excavations at Tell Brak, Volume 1. p. 143.
  6. ^ D. Opitz, Die Lage von Wassuganni, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, vol. 37, 1927
  7. ^ Bertille Lyonnet and Xavier Faivre, The Settlement Pattern of the Western Upper Khabur from the Old Babylonian Period to the End of the Mittani Era. (THE SETTLEMENT PATTERN OF THE WESTERN UPPER KHABUR) p213.
  8. ^ a b Peter M. M. G. Akkermans, Glenn M. Schwartz (2003). The Archaeology of Syria: From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (c.16,000-300 BC). p. 327.
  9. ^ Edward Lipinski, Studies in Aramaic Inscriptions and Onomastics, Peeters Publishers, 1994, ISBN 90-6831-610-9
  10. ^ Max Freiherr von Oppenheim, Der Tell Halaf, Eine neue Kultur im ältesten Mesopotamien, F. A. Brockhaus, 1931
  11. ^ [1] C. W. McEwan, L. S. Braidwood, H. Frankfort, H. G. Güterbock, R. C. Haines, H. J. Kantor, and C. H. Kraeling, Soundings at Tell Fakhariyah, Oriental Institute Publication 79, 1957
  12. ^ A. Moortgat, Vorläufiger Bericht über eine Grabung auf dem Tell Fecherije 1955, AAS, vol. 6, pp. 39-50, 1956
  13. ^ A. Moortgat, Archäologische Forschungen der Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung im nördlichen Mesopotamien 1956, AAS, vol. 7, pp. 17-30, 1957
  14. ^ A. Pruss and Abd al-Masih Bagdo, Tell Fecheriye. Bericht über die erste Kampagne der deutsch-syrischen Ausgrabungen 2001, MDOG, vol. 134, pp. 311-329, 2002
  15. ^ D. Bonatz and P. Bartl, Preliminary Report of the excavations at Tell Fekheriye in 2006 and 2007, in: Chronique Archéologique en Syrie, pp. 175-185, 2007
  16. ^ D. Bonatz, Tell Fecheriye 2006 - Neue Ausgrabungen an altbekannter Stätte, in: Alter Orient aktuell, vol. 8, pp. 4-8, 2008
  17. ^ D.Bonatz et al., Bericht über die erste und zweite Grabungskampagne in Tell Fekheriye 2006 und 2007, MDOG, vol. 140, pp. 89-135,2008

Further reading[edit]

  • A. Dobel, F. Asaro, H. V. Michel, Neutron Activation Analysis and the Location of Washshukanni, Orientalia, vol. 46, pp. 375–382, 1977
  • R. Zadok Remarks on the Inscription of hdyscy from Tall Fakhariya, Tel Aviv, vol. 9, pp. 117–129, 1982
  • T. Muraoka, The Tell-Fekherye Bilingual Inscription and Early Aramaic, Abr-Naharain, vol. 22, pp. 79–117, 1983–84
  • B. Müller-Neuhof, Anthropomorphic Statuettes from Tell Fakhariyah: Arguments for Their Possible PPNB Origin, Neo-Lithics 1, pp. 37 – 43, 2007
  • Dominik Bonatz, "Tell Fekheriye in the Late Bronze Age: Archaeological Investigations into the Structures of Political Governance in the Upper Mesopotamian Piedmont", in: Dominik Bonatz (Ed.), The Archaeology of Political Spaces. The Upper Mesopotamian Piedmont in the Second Millennium BC, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 61–84, 2014

External links[edit]