Saturday, April 24, 2021

On the Urfa Citadel

From Edessa to Urfa: The Fortification of the Citadel

Author: Cristina Tonghini. Paperback; 205x290mm; 270 pages; 190 figures, 6 tables, 39 plates (colour throughout). 725 2021. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781789697568. Epublication ISBN 9781789697575.

From Edessa to Urfa: the Fortification of the Citadel is the outcome of an archaeological research project focused on a specific monumental area in the city of Urfa: its citadel. Urfa is better known to the general reader by its ancient name, Edessa. Three seasons of fieldwork were carried out (2014-2016), concentrating on the study of the evidence preserved above ground and employing the methods of stratigraphic analysis to identify the building sequence of the citadel and to characterise the various building phases. Transformation of the relative sequence into absolute chronology depended primarily on inscriptions in situ, but also on typological elements (masonry type, decorative elements, specific architectural forms). Data from the written sources also contributed relevant information regarding the development of the fortification works and the establishment of an absolute sequence.

In late antiquity the Aramaiac dialect (Syriac) spoken in Edessa (modern Urfa) spread across the Middle East and became the language of the Eastern Church for many centuries. Some PaleoJudaica posts on other discoveries at Edessa are here, here, here, here, and here.

Ephrem the Syrian (cf. here, here, and here) spent the last ten years of his life in Edessa. His vast corpus of Syriac hymns, poems, and biblical commentaries contributed to the importance of the language in the Eastern Church. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

The citadel excavated by this team existed from as early as the third century CE.

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