Since 1999 a Syro-Belgian excavation team led by Prof. Joachim Bretschneider has been exploring the past of Tell Tweini (Ancient Gibala) on the coast of Syria. After eleven years of excavation on Field A adequate data has been uncovered, examined and interpreted to generate a standardized work on the subject of the site’s chronology. The ceramic evidence has been analyzed and described and serves as the directorate for layer dating. Architectural sequencing forms an addition to the ceramic findings. During the previous campaigns architectural data has been collected dependably, but not always has the information been drawn on to its full potential. This potential is the subject of this doctoral thesis, where architectural remains form part of the basis for theories concerning the evolution of urbanization. The aim of this doctorate is not only to identify all architecture and date it to the correct phase, but also examine the evolution and recycling of the architectural remains and illustrate the site’s architectural stratigraphy.
Tell Tweini has known a continuous habitation from as early as the Early Bronze Age, a time characterized by the evolution of agriculturally based to complex urban societies. However, what is especially remarkable at the site of Tell Tweini are the remains datable to the transitional period from the Bronze to the Iron Age, a period ill attested in the Levant. It was an era of turmoil in the Mediterranean with the disappearance of major cities, kingdoms and even civilizations of which the destruction of the Kingdom of Ugarit is the most renowned example in the Northern Levant.
The material evidence of Tell Tweini shows continuation of habitation with expansions and shrinkages over a period of more than 2000 years. Traces of the earliest periods of the Early Bronze Age are absent from the site, but Early Bronze Age III and IVA/B remains appear on virgin soil. The Middle Bronze Age I is better attested and characterized by several communal tombs dated to the Middle Bronze Age I and Middle Bronze Age IIB/C. An expansion of the site is visible in the remains dated to the Late Bronze Age, specifically levels 7 A-B-C. The massive occupation is visible in architectural levels as well as in the imported goods from all over the Eastern Mediterranean. While Ugarit perished under the invasion of the so called Sea People, Tell Tweini was immediately resettled by newcomers after a fire destruction. On this debris a new city was built with the reuse of Late Bronze Age walls as foundations for Early Iron Age architecture. A large-scale fire at the end of this period has left beautiful in situ contexts upon which the Iron Age II/III layers were founded, commencing a tradition of public buildings in the southern part of Field A. The production of olive oil and wine is visible in the large quantity of presses from the 8th century B.C onwards when Gibala came under Assyrian control and the large public buildings were divided into smaller units.