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The Urban Pattern of Old Syrian Town
 
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Terrazza Sacra di Ishtar

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Terrazza di Ishtar

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Pianta del Tempio di Rashap

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Tempio di Rashap

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Tempio di Shamash

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Il settore delle Case Private

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Il settore delle Case Private

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Il settore delle Case Private

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Ceramica in posto nelle case private dell'Area B

Old Syrian Ebla was certainly a large urban centre, slightly less than 60 hectares in size, with an urban pattern, resulting from attentive planning, very clear to detect. It included the outer walls, a large ring-shaped Lower Town, and the central Citadel. The wide Lower Town was limited by the almost ellipsoidal perimeter of the massive rampart, and it surrounded, like a ring, the nearly round hill of the Citadel, located on the actual Acropolis. Four monumental city gates led into the settlement, from which four approximately radial street departed, the main city routes, reaching quite a large street, running in a ring at the foot of the Citadel, close to the inner fortification.


The Citadel was entered by means of a sloping street, leading to a monumental gateway, located on the south-western slope of the Acropolis, over the ruins of the Royal Palace G of the Archives period, it included the Royal Palace G, residence of the king, and the court, and seat of the central administration, which probably covered a large part of its surface, and the dynastic Ishtar’s Temple, belonging to the patron goddess of the Old Syrian town, a king of palatine chapel for the goddess protecting kingship. This sanctuary, with some smaller annex with specific ritual functions, stood on the western edge of the Acropolis, in a slightly higher position, even with respect to the closer wings of the Royal Palace E.


In the Lower Town, at the feet of the Acropolis, there was a belt of relevant public buildings, alternating secular and religious, which left very limited areas for private houses. From the North-East to the West and later on to the South there were the Temple of the Sun-God Shamash, the Northern Palace with ceremonial functions, Ishtar’s Cult Area with the large temple, which probably was the main town temple, and the Cult Terrace for the goddess’s lions, the Western Palace, the Crown Prince’s residence, the Cult Area of the Netherworld God Rashap with his temple and the Deified Royal Ancestors’ Sanctuary, and, lastly, south of the Citadel, the Southern Palace, the Palace Prefect’s probable residence. Another temple, possible dedicated to the Storm-God Hadad, stood, further away, nearly close to the south-eastern sector of the walls, near the Steppe Gate, in the area already occupied, in the mature Early Syrian period, by the Temple of the Rock.


Some important sector of private houses was also brought to light in the Lower Town: South-East of the Citadel a quarter (Area B) stretched, quite well preserved, probably inhabited by the personnel of the nearby Rashap’s Temple and of the Deified Royal Ancestors’ Sanctuary, and, to the West, at the foot of the massive outer rampart, there was a residential sector (Area Z), probably reserved for high rank personages, while a limited quarter of private houses, probably for the garrison of Damascus Gate, stood close to this city gate, inside the town.


On the top of the huge ramparts of the outer fortification of Old Syrian Ebla several, even large isolated buildings were built, certainly not at the beginning of the Old Syrian period, when at least the inner slopes of the fortifications were used as a necropolis: some of them had only defensive functions, and were used as arsenals for weapons, and as check towers over the surrounding country-side, and others were more complex, and had both defensive and administrative functions, as well as for production and storage.


The system of streets of the Old Syrian town pivoted on the nearly radial streets departing from the four city gates towards the Citadel, with not always regular routes, and probably ended in the street running at the feet of the Acropolis. In the Lower Town the system of radial axis was integrated by prevalently orthogonal streets, oriented South- North and East-West, connecting the routes coming from the city gates, while some alleys, also blind, only with distributive function for the houses, and not for street connection, allowed a complete circulation within the urban pattern.

 
 
 

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