An Evaluation on the Early Bronze Age Terracotta Figurines of Tilbasar


OLBA, vol.29, pp.47-76, 2021 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Title of Journal : OLBA
  • Page Numbers: pp.47-76
  • Keywords: Tilbasar, Early Bronze Age, Middle Euphrates Valley, Figurine, Terracotta


The Early Bronze Age terracotta figurines unearthed during four-year rescue excavations between 2015 and 2018 in the Southern Lower Town of Tilbasar, which is located near the Gundogan neighborhood of the Oguzeli town in the province of Gaziantep, are the main theme of this study. Of the 36 figurines in total, 10 are have an anthropomorphic form and the other 26 are formed in a zoomorphic style. All of the figurines are handmade. Almost all of them are broken. Only 19 figurines could be related to the stratum. These came from the contexts belonging to the last two layers of the Early Bronze Age (Levels 4 and 5, 2.300/2.200-2.100/2.050 BC) extending from the street and its surroundings. Others are finds from uncertain contexts. Anthropomorphic figurines are divided into two main types in terms of face. neck. and hairstyles (Type 1 and Type 2). In Type 1, the design is characterized by short notches. as in Type 2, body details were created by adding clay pieces. Type 2 has also four subtypes. Simply hand-made zoomorphic figurines consist of four-legged bovine animal models. The zoomorphic figurines, which probably represent a bull, have two subtypes, roughly shape and elaborately prepared ones. The discovery of a large number of terracotta figurines during the rescue excavations at Tabqa and Tishrin Dam projects in the Middle Euphrates region of Syria increased the number of studies on this subject. The majority of the Early Bronze Age figurines, most of which have been published, consist of fragments. The number of those who are intact is few. The Tilbasar anthropomorphic figurines show similarities with the figurines of MAI 2-3, MA II-III and MA V 2a, which are described by Leila Badre as the Euphrates ones, and with the figurines MEFT A 01a and MEFT A 02 of Ferhan Sakai. These consist of male and female figurines with the pillar-shaped lower body, standing. hands-on chest or short arms, distinctive hair and necklace decoration. The terracotta figurines arc spread across a wide geography including the Euphrates valley and also the area between the Balikh and Habur River valleys. The core area of this type is the Tabqa region between Tell es-Sweyhat and "fall Bi'a. Figurines are seen in the region during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. The standardization process of the Early Bronze Age pottery of the Middle Euphrates valley is also observed in the terracotta figurines. The only ancient site in Turkey. including many subtypes of the MEFT A 02 figurines as the regional representatives with the pillar-shaped lower body, flat upper body, distinctive shoulders, elaborate hairstyle, and neckwear is Tilbasar. There is no difference between this type and the type 2 of Tilbasar in terms of production technique and stylistic features. These artifacts should represent the products of regional art as if they were handed by the same master. The figurines are defined as objects that serve a range of purposes from liturgical objects of temples to personal belongings and are unearthed in the public and the domestic areas. The distribution of the Middle Euphrates-type Early Bronze Age figurines in the settlement indicates that they mostly came from private residences and public areas. Tilbasar figurines also came from residences and public areas of the quarters located near the city wall of the Lower Town. all having secular characteristics.