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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Publication details

Wilkinson,T.J. , French, C. Ur, J.A. & Semple M. (2010). The Geoarchaeology of Route Systems in Northern Syria. Geoarchaeology 25(6): 745–771.

Author(s) from Durham


Linear valleys, termed hollow ways, form a distinctive feature of the North Syrian Bronze Age landscape, but few have been described in detail or excavated. This paper examines the geoarchaeology of hollow way route systems in northern Syria at three scales of analysis: (1) from satellite imagery, at which scale it is possible to examine patterns of hollow ways over very large areas; (2) in the field, where cleaned sections supply ground control and dating evidence for specific features or hollow ways; and (3) using soil micromorphology to investigate the formation processes evident in the hollow way fills. We also use ethnographic analogy to extend the interpretation of the pattern of hollow ways. Finally, we examine the role of these features in the drainage network as well as their contribution to the development of alluvial fills of the Khabur tributaries. The three sections examined demonstrated that the Brak hollow ways were incised into the landscape, probably in the third millennium B.C. or slightly earlier. The fills show evidence of episodic flow and low-energy soil wash with weak soil development over the last 4000 years.

Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

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