Book Series Subartu, vol. 42

Circular Cities of Early Bronze Age Syria

Corinne Castel, Jan-Waalke Meyer, Philippe Quenet (eds)

  • Pages: xxvi + 398 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:133 b/w, 36 col., 16 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55183-8
  • Paperback
  • Available

This volume is the first dedicated to the urbanism of pre-classical Syria.


« Abondamment illustré, le volume apporte non seulement des éléments inédits (stratigraphie, répartition des sites, descriptions, etc.) sur les derniers travaux en date ayant eu lieu en Syrie avant les événements tragiques que l’on sait, mais ouvre aussi des perspectives environnementales et anthropologiques sur l’urbanisme de l’Orient ancien. On attend avec plus d’impatience encore la publication finale de la fouille d’Al-Rawda, moteur incontestable de ce renouvellement. » (Catherine Breniquet, dans Syria, Juin 2021)

“Given the debacles that have befallen Syrian archaeology and cultural heritage in recent years, it is heartening to see how research and debate can continue. The editors of this volume are thus to be highly commended for organizing the circular cities research project and for making this set of richly informative papers available to the scholarly public.” (Dr. Glenn M. Schwartz, in Topoi, 24/2, 2021, p. 652)

“The value of the book lies (…) in the common view on a peculiar phenomenon of Syrian urbanisation. It moves the discussion on the circular settlements from the sphere of often speculative guessing to a solid, material-based evidence. It will remain the standard reference for the circular cities of Syria, at least until the situation in this country will allow renewed archaeological fieldwork.” (Alexander Pruss, in Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXX 1/2, 2023, p. 153)


The editors of the volume are all archaeologists who excavated circular Syrian sites of the third millennium, respectively Tell Al-Rawda, Tell Chuera, Khirbet Malhat and Tell esh-Sha'irat.


This volume corresponds to the acts of a conference that closes the international interdisciplinary research project Badiyah, directed by Corinne Castel and Jan-Waalke Meyer (Directors of the Tell Al-Rawda and Tell Chuera archaeological missions). Both sites illustrate the importance of the 3rd millennium BCE ‘circular cities’ discovered in today’s Syria. These pre-planned cities were fortified and organized following a concentric and radial urban pattern. They represent a particular form of the endogenous process of urbanization that appeared in this region when the first cities and territorial states emerged. The main results obtained from these two sites are compared to other Syrian ‘circular cities’ of the Early Bronze Age. Twenty-nine contributions enable us to reassess the process of urbanization in the Near East and to question the Southern Mesopotamian model as the unique cradle of urban civilization.






Syrian Circular Cities of the Third Millennium BC: A Syrian Urban Model — CORINNE CASTEL

Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Circular Cities in Early Bronze Age Syria: A Reappraisal — PHILIPPE QUENET

The Birth of the Circular Cities — JAN-WAALKE MEYER


Origins of the Model

The Origin and Early Development of Tell Chuēra and Neighbouring Settlements — RALPH HEMPELMANN

Retracing Settlements, Pots, and People: Frankfurt University’s Southeast Anatolia Project (SOAP) — CHRISTIAN FALB & MUSTAFA KIBAROĞLU

Circular Cities: Fortifications and Official Areas

The Fortification of Circular Cities: The Examples of Tell Chuēra and Tell Al-Rawda — TOBIAS B. H. HELMS & PHILIPPE QUENET

Creating the Urban Landscape. The Emergence of Monumentality in Third Millennium Chuēra — OLESIA KROMBERG

The Early Bronze Age Palace at Chuēra and the Decline of the Settlement — ALEXANDER TAMM

Circular Cities: Material Culture

A Comparison of Early Bronze Age Ceramic Assemblages from Circular Cities in Inner Syria and the Western Jezirah: Some Preliminary Considerations — TAOS BABOUR & GEORGES MOUAMAR

Djemdet Nasr or Early Bronze Age III? Dating the Find Locations of Tell Chuēra Seal Impressions — ANNE-BIRTE BINDER

Peri-Urban Constructions and Environmental Studies

The Circular Cities of Northern Syria in their Environmental Context — STEFAN LORENZ SMITH & TONY JAMES WILKINSON

Soils and Land Use Potential Around Tell Chuēra in the Third Millennium BC — HEINRICH THIEMEYER

Central Places in the Wadi Ḥamar Survey Area. Aspects of Urban Planning in the Regions of the Badiyah Project in the Third Millennium BC — VERONIKA KUDLEK

Stratégies de subsistance et économie végétale dans les villes circulaires de la Shamiyah au Bronze ancien. Tell Al-Rawda et Tell Sh‘airat dans les marges arides de Syrie — LINDA HERVEUX

Potentiels agro-pastoraux et aménagements agricoles périurbains de la microrégion d’Al-Rawda — OLIVIER BARGE & MARIE-LAURE CHAMBRADE

Animal Economy at the End of the Third Millennium bc in the Syrian Badiyah: A Comparative Study of Tell Chuēra and Tell Al-Rawda — EMMANUELLE VILA

A Cataclysm in the Steppe? Environmental History of Al-Rawda, an Ephemeral City in the Syrian Arid Margins at the End of the Third Millennium — JACQUES EìLIE BROCHIER

Society and Textual Sources

The Ebla Palace G Texts and the Circular Cities of Third Millennium Eastern Syria: Some Remarks — MARIA GIOVANNA BIGA

The Ebla Palace G Texts and the Circular Cities of Third Millennium Southern Syria: Some Remarks — AMALIA CATAGNOTI

Square Temples and Circular Cities: Sites of Attraction, ‘Traditions of Identity’ and Third Millennium Urbanisation in Northern Syria — ANNE PORTER



The Spatial Organisation, Development and Sociology of Radial Pattern Settlements in Early Bronze Age Anatolia — BÉRENGÈRE PERELLO


Mari, une ville circulaire ordinaire? — PASCAL BUTTERLIN

Notes sur l’architecture et l’urbanisme du Royaume de Nagar (3): similarités entre Tell Brak et Tell Beydar à l’époque Early Jezirah IIIb — MARC LEBEAU

Tell Khazna I — A Concentric Planned Settlement in The Khabur Steppe — AMIROV SHAMARDAN N.

Tell Tcholema Foqani: A New Circular City ‘Kranzhügel’ in the Region of Upper Jezirah — CHEIKHMOUS ALI

A Season’s Work at Khirbet Malhat, North-Eastern Syria — PHILIPPE QUENET & AHMAD SULTAN


La contribution du Jebel Bishri à la thématique des villes circulaires du troisième millénaire av. J.-C. — AHMAD SULTAN

A Planned new Major City on the Margins of the Syrian Steppe: Early Bronze Age Tell Shʻaīrat — GEORGES MOUAMAR

Southern Mesopotamia

Town-Planning in Third Millennium Mesopotamia: A View from the Alluvial Plain — RÉGIS VALLET