André Finet Archive Collection
Tell Kannas 1968. At right, André Finet
In 1965, with the construction of the Tabqa Dam on the Middle Euphrates, the General Direction of Antiquities and Museums of Syria issued an international call with the aim of salvaging many archaeological sites threatened by the waters of Lake Al-Assad. Many institutions answered, and among them the “Comité belge de recherches historiques, épigraphiques et archéologiques en Mésopotamie” who organized eight excavation campaigns at Tell Kannas (1967 - 1974), under the supervision of Pr. André Finet (Université Libre de Bruxelles). Today, part of the material found on this site is stored in the Royal Museums of Art and History and the rest in the National Museum of Aleppo.
Tell Kannas is located in the Middle Euphrates area in Syria, about 150 km from Aleppo. The site, spreading over about one hectare, lies on the right bank of the Euphrates, on the ancient river terrace, thus within easy reach of the water while remaining above flood level.
Five occupation levels were identified during the excavation.
The oldest level is Middle Uruk (3500 - 3200 BC). This period is characterized by the arrival in Syria of people coming from South Mesopotamia to set up urban colonies in areas deprived of settlements. Tell Kannas is part of the largest of these cities known under the name of Habuba Kabira. Indeed, the Belgian team has excavated in the south part of this site the administrative and political centre of the settlement. Situated on a terrace and dominating the city, it appears as a monumental complex composed of three buildings distinguished by their size and a particularly elaborate architectural decoration. At the foot of this hill lies a city of about ten hectares protected on its northern and southern sides by an imposing city wall. About a fifth of its surface has been excavated by a German team.
At the end of the 4th millennium, after about 150 years of occupation, the colony of Tell Kannas/Habuba Kabira was abandoned. Although in the second half of the 3rd millennium the hill has occasionally been used as a cemetery, it was not until the transition period between the Early Bronze and Middle Bronze Ages that a new community settled there and built an imposing building (fig. 4). It seems to have been a kind of fortified point ideally situated on the trade road linking Syria to Southern Mesopotamia. Destroyed by a violent fire, the fortress was replaced by dwellings within a new settlement, the extent of which cannot be defined.
The Middle Bronze Age settlement was replaced by an occupation level dating from the Late Bronze Age, whose remains have been significantly damaged by later burials. The ceramic and artefacts associated with the remains of small houses suggest that, at the time of the Hittite invasions, Tell Kannas was only a small settlement.
Finally, during Roman times, the tell was again used as a cemetery. The deceased, probably buried during the 1st century AD, were laid in pit graves whose presence was reported by a row of large jars. This ultimate use of the site as a cemetery will reach its peak during the Islamic period when the top of the mound is covered by tombs for which dating criteria are sadly lacking.
A. Finet (Fonds) record