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450 m
Southeastern Anatolia
Investigation Method:
New Assyrian Empire Period Late New Assyrian Period


Location: It lies 5 km far from the border of Syria; 4 km north of the Nusaybin District; southeast of the Mardin Province.
Geography and Environment: The Çag Çag river cleaving a canyon through a hill known as Tur Abdin or Mardin Esigi [Erkanal-Erkanal 1989:131] flows to the south; to Northern Mesopotamia by leaving a rocky land like a peninsula in the southern end of this canyon. On this rocky land stands a round hill called Girnavaz. It measures 24-25 m in height and 350 m in diameter [Erkanal 1984:131]. Even tough there is a very low terrace on the south; the northern terrace forms a lowland. At present; the mound is surrounded by fertile gardens. The region has a humid climate. The canyon cleft by the Çag Çag River (Harmis) is the beginning of a natural road reaching to Batman over the Savur River. Erkanal identify Girnavaz as the gate of the valley since it is located right at the entry of the Çag Suyu Valley [Erkanal 1998:173].
Research and Excavation: Girnavaz was visited and evaluated in various studies by many scientists in previous years due to its archaeological significance. In 1918, A.T. Olmstead attempted to identify Girnavaz with the Assyrian Period Nasibina based on surface finds. In 1969 E. Lucius and K. Sornig looked for a new center to identify with Wassuganni due to a village called Vesiki 2 km to the south of Girnavaz. In 1980 K. Sornig, was interested again with the localization of Wassuganni, and this time, based on historical sources, he wanted to evaluate Girnavaz as Wassuganni [Erkanal 1998:172]. One of the most important researches related with Girnavaz was realized by Kessler. In this research, primarily the geographical location of Nabula was set forth in accordance with written documents; and then compared to Girnavaz and environs. According to Kessler, Girnavaz is likely to be identified with Nabula. E. Forrer's attempt to identify Nabula with Nibl/Nebil on the bank of the second Çag Çag tributary in Tur Abdin was deemed void. As a result of on-site studies, no archaeological material specific to Nabula were identified [Erkanal 1998:172]. In order to ascertain all these evaluations, excavations were initialized in 1982 on behalf of the Ankara University under the direction of H. Erkanal. It takes place in the registered archaeological sites list prepared by Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Stratigraphy: As a result of the analysis on surface finds, it was found that Girnavaz contained all North Mesopotamian cultures from the Uruk Period to the Neo-Assyrian Period. Particularly the elaborate Nuzi pottery suggests that Hurrian Culture was strongly represented at this site. Also found are traces of the Roman Period and Middle Age cultures [Erkanal 1998:173].
Small Finds: Architecture: A deposit of the Levels I and II unearthed in 1988 were covered with a terrace wall. The empty area to the west of this terrace wall had been inhabited in a later period. The settlement area found at this location is lined with Level II. This new settlement area has been preserved only in a very narrow area due to the slope erosion and destruction of upper levels. The floor of a structure, of which only three walls were exposed, was paved with bricks covered by asphalt. As commonly known, in Mesopotamia asphalt was often used in areas mostly related with water. The asphalt covered floor is also connected to a pipe drain. This drain was used for water discharge. Due to its proximity to the slope, the sherds could not be properly analyzed in regard to their relation with the new settlement area. Considering the architectural characteristics and the remains unearthed in 1986, this area possibly dates to a later period than the three other levels, probably to the Neo-Assyrian Period. The terrace wall that divides the excavation area into two also prevents sliding of these remains to the new area [Erkanal 1990: 263]. 1st and 2nd Millennia BC material was unearthed to east of the terrace and 3rd Millennium BC material to the west of the terrace during the 1989 excavations. Neo Assyrian remains are located in the northeastern corner. A 2.75 m high wall was identified in the northwest corner of the excavation area. As a result of the excavations conducted in two separate trenches to the south and southwest of the trench where the wall was found, some Neo-Assyrian levels were unearthed. A Neo-Assyrian Period workshop was found in the south trench [Erkanal 1991:280]. Erkanal reports that there were some finds indicating the presence of a large Neo-assyrian Period building that belongs to the 8th and 7th centuries. Besides, the Neo-Assyrian Period settlement unearthed in the western excavation area continues on the terraces built on the northern slopes of the mound. It is best supoorted by the stone paved ramp found in the east excavation area [Erkanal 1989:278]. Pottery: A pile of sherds consisting of mainly large vessels was found between levels II and III during the 1983 excavations. This group of sherds that reflect the characteristics of the Neo Assyrian Period failed to be related to another level for that season. It is known to be older than the level 2 which is represented by a single wall, since this pile is under that wall. As a result of the analysis on all of the available sherds, the 7th century BC characteristics were identified [Erkanal 1985:124]. Late phase Neo-Assyrian Period and mostly 7th century BC sherds were unearthed during the 1986 excavation season. The Neo-Assyrian period buildings were spreaded onto the terraces on the slope, and probably down to the plain [Erkanal 1988b:364]. The paste of the royal ceramic group which consists of knob-based vases were refined and very little mica and grit were used as temper material. The paste contains aluminium in general, and during the baking process it turns pale pink or creme due to oxidization. Although they are usually slipped in the same color with the paste, some have a very thin layer in buff or greenish creme as if they were only bathed in these colors. The burnishing can be hardly observed on a very little number of samples in the form of horizontal lines [Senyurt 1988:281-82]. The samples unearthed at Girnavaz are in the category of qualified royal ceramics with a wall thickness of 2 mm. The vase samples are dated to the late 7th century BC [Senyurt 1988:289]. Seal: As in previous years, the excavations conducted between 1982 and 1983 yielded important outcomes for the Neo-Assyrian Period. A seal unearthed in a stepped trench belongs to the Middle Assyrian Period, but it is assumed that this seal was also used during the Neo-Assyrian Period [Erkanal 1986a: 203]. During the excavations conducted between 1982-84 in the levels that were dated to the Neo-Assyrian Period, three cylindrical seals were unearthed, two in whole and one in pieces. Based on these finds, the expansion area and extension of Assyria, which was one of the most important states in the Near East, to the north became more enlightened with physical remains. Girnavaz sample under inventory #Gn 83/48: A seal which may be comparable with the Stune Seal was encountered at Girnavaz in 1983 but it was only a fragment. It was made of black steatite. It was unearthed in trench R-11 grid square IX-g at a depth of 507.21 m. On this sample, no details are observed other than the details of the clothings of a hunter who kneeled down and a borderline composed of concentric angle motif which probably delimited the seal on both sides [Erkanal 1986b:380]. Girnavaz sample under inventory #Gn 84/8: It was unearthed in grid square II-c of the trench N-25. It was made of grey steatite. The figure on one side of the seal was very worn due to frequent use, otherwise it is in good shape. It was made with the typical inear style well-known from the Neo-Assyrian Period l. The composition scheme is monotonous, and figures and depicted objects were shown on one single plane. Although there is no upper or lower boundaries in the scene on the surface of the seal, there is a line between the figures on the upper of the part of the seal, which gives the impression that such a boundary was initially planned, but then given up. It is a worshipping scene with two figures. The figure that worships is on the left side of the seal. This figure wears a round cap and a long, pleated skirt. The depicted person is holding a wand (?) in his/her left hand that he/she extends. His/her other hand was depicted in worshipping position. A god figure sitting in a throne was depicted across from this figure. The god figure faces left, and iconography makes it the center of attention. Four stars were placed vertically in the hollow space behind the throne. There is a single cuneiform character at the bottom of all that. Therefore, the god depicted here with its third feature, the astral representative should be the Goddess Ishtar. Ishtar is known as Ninsianna, which is the planet of Venus. The eight pointed star is the symbol showing this feature of the goddess. There is an incensory placed up high between the goddess and the worshipper, as well as a "writing stylus" made of stone, which is the symbol for God Nabu between the incensory and the goddess [Erkanal 1986b:382-383]. Girnavaz sample under inventory #Gn 84/46: It was unearthed in grid square II-g of the trench S-11 in plan as a floortop find. It was made of black steatite. Although made in linear style, the motifs contain deep scratches at certain points, and the seal impression composes an apparent relief. The seal was confined at the top and the bottom. The composition on the seal is monotonous with a cow at the center which suckles a calf being the center of interest. A horny bull behind her in galloping position is getting near the cow. An Assyrian figure depicted in detail in clothings and hairdo as opening arms over this group of three as if protecting them. In the space between the human figure and the group there is a stylized palm tree with seven leaves. The space over the cow that suckles the calf contains an eight-pointed star decoration, which is almost at the center of the composition [Erkanal 1986b:385-386]. Tablet: The stepped trench excavations conducted in east-west direction were also conducted on the slope. Three levels were identified in a pit of 5x10 m. The most important find recovered from this pit is a tablet found immediately below the surface. A corner and the lower edge being broken, it is dated to the Neo-Assyrian Period [Erkanal 1986a:207]. This tablet also was not in situ just like the other tablets found in the region. It is related with the sales of a garden [Erkanal 1988b:364].
Interpretation and Dating: Girnavaz which was introduced to the world of science first by A.T.Olmstead was the focus of an important study by K.Kessler. Based on the written sources, Nabula, which was often mentioned in the Assyrian documents was identified with Navala mentioned in the ancient Babylon documents and its geographical location was elaborately defined. According to K. Kesler, Girnavaz is the strongest candidate for Nabula/Navala mentioned in the Archive of Mari and even in Egypt [Erkanal 1985:121]. Some Neo-Assyrian official buildings, sherds and seals were found on and in the center of the terrace N. The cuneiform tablet dated to July 4th, 631 BC belongs to the Assurbanipal's year eponym [Mellink 1985:554]. The excavations conducted at Girnavaz points out intense settlement remains from the Uruk Period. Thus, the Sumerian Period should have been represented at Girnavaz from the earliest until the most intense phase. It is not only important for the archaeology of Anatolia, but also of the Asia Minor. With Girnavaz, Anatolia becomes part of the Sumerian culture and gains a significant and new dimension [Erkanal 1988c:36].

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