Current Research

Cultural Continuity within Political and Climate Change

Area HH
Area HH architecture

Our project exploring political, cultural and climatic change from the late 3rd through 2nd millennia BC involves excavation in two neighborhoods on the highest ridge of the site, Areas HH and HN. Historically, this time sees the collapse of the Akkadian expansive state, growth and collapse of Samsi-Addu's territorial state, and finally the imposition of Mitanni and Middle Assyrian ‘empires’. Regional climatic data indicate increased aridity across this period, but the speed and "catastrophic" nature of elements of this trend are the subject of debate, as is the reconstruction of human response in terms of settlement pattern. Brak appears to retract and then expand across these key transitions, but the scale and role of the site are thus far imprecisely determined.

Mitanni Period houses and a street have been exposed in Area HH, just west of the Palace and Temple complex excavated in the 1980s. A room in one house had a vaulted roof; all houses contained rich assemblages of painted and unpainted ceramics, bronze tools, terra-cotta figurines and basalt grinding stones. Two phases of Mitanni houses were built directly over at least one phase of houses of the Old Babylonian Period/ early 2nd millennium BC. An east-west street is present in the same location across all periods and may connect these houses to the palace complex in the final phases. Our excavations in Area HN (further west along the high ridge) were limited, but present further evidence for substantial Mitanni Period houses there. Soundings below Area HH indicate the presence of material from the Post-Akkadian Period and little-known transition from the Early Bronze to Middle Bronze Age.