Clay Tablet from Tell Qitar


The tablet is a legal document relating to an inheritance. In accordance with the custom at the time, the tablet was concealed in an envelope on which the same text was transcribed. If one of the two parties concerned came to believe that the other had falsified the terms of an agreement, the envelope was opened by a judge so that he could compare the provisions written on the tablet with those given by the text on the envelope.

El-Qitar was a second millennium BC fortress dating mainly to 1400-1200 BC. It consisted of an upper and lower settlement connected by rock-cut stairs. The lower settlement of streets, buildings, River Gate and towers was destroyed and flooded by construction of the hydro-electric dam. The mountain top, now an island, had two West Gates,a North Tower, a public building with orthostats, a temple from the Late Bronze Age and stone-built tumuli of unknown date. A cuneiform tablet from the site suggest the place was called Til-Abnu. El-Qitar was excavated by an Australo-American team in the 1980s.

El Qitar is a significant site for monitoring, documenting and testing several trends in military, political and social organization during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Changes in warfare from the preceding Middle Bronze period into the Late Bronze Age included the widespread use of chariotry and emergence of a military elites. Together with (sedentary) population changes, this led to smaller armies and the abandonment of massive earthen rampart fortifications around major urban, perhaps allowing the Hittites to more readily conquer this part of the Euphrates River. Whether there was an increased functional and socio-economic differentiation among settlements in the Late Bronze Age, when they became integrated into larger regional polities, will be examined.

In addition to the architectural layout, some of the other discoveries at El Qitar included a silver hoard – weighing over 2 kg, several carved cylinder seals, and an inscribed cuneiform clay tablet, arranged in ‘Syro-Hittite’ style, dealing with regulating an inheritance (McClellan1985; Sagona 1985; Snell 1983–84).

  • Site: Tell Qitar

  • Date: Middle 2ed millennium BC

  • Material: Baked Clay

  • Item Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 4 cm

  • Archaeological Mission: Australian- American archaeological mission (Thomas McClellan)

  • Museum Number: ALEPPO M 10471 | National Museum Of Aleppo (2011)

  • Index Code: Alp

Excavation Site Location

Post updated 6/19/2023 : (En & Ar)

  • Add museum inventory number according to Michel Fortin’s Syria land of civilization catalogue book.
  • Add item dimensions according to Michel Fortin’s Syria land of civilization catalogue book.

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