Excavated area in front of the Temple Terrace, with the monumental staircase at the center, Tell Mozan, Syria, 2009. Photograph courtesy The International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies
The commitment to archaeological exploration in the Near East has long been an integral part of the mission of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. Tell Mozan, the ancient city of Urkesh, is located in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border. From about 3000 to 1500 B.C., Urkesh was an important stop on both the north-south trade route between Anatolia and the cities of Syria and Mesopotamia, and the east-west route that linked the Mediterranean with the Zagros Mountains of western Iran.
Excavations begun in 1984 under co-directors Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati have revealed a temple terrace with a monumental stone staircase and a royal palace dated to the Akkadian period (ca. 2350–2200 B.C.). Urkesh was a capital of the Hurrian people, a little-understood but powerful group whose culture these buildings and associated finds have helped elucidate.
The Museum provided support for the excavations from 2006 to 2010. Finds of exceptional interest from the excavations are housed in the Deir ez-Zor Museum, although there are long-term plans to display them in a museum currently under construction in Hassaka, closer to the site.