Ras al-Ayn, Syria Tell Fekheriye


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Tell Fekheriye is an ancient site in the Khabur River basin in the Al Hasakah Governorate of northern Syria. It is securely identified as the site of Sikkan, attested since c. 2000 BC. Sikkan was part of the Aramaean kingdom of Bit Bahiani in the early 1st millennium BC. In the area several mounds, called tells, can be found in close proximity: Tell Fekheriye, Ra's al-'Ayn, and Tell Halaf, site of the Aramean and Neo-Assyrian city of Guzana. During the excavation the Tell Fekheriye bilingual inscription was discovered at the site, which provides the source of information about Hadad-yith'i.
In the early 20th century Tell Fekheriye was suggested as the site of Washukanni, the capital of Mitanni, but the claim is unconfirmed. Many scholars opposed this theory including Michael Roaf, Peter Akkermans, David Oates, Joan Oates and Edward Lipiński.


The site of Tell Fekheriye was occupied as early as the Akkadian period. The limited excavations so far conducted have shown
substantial developments in the Middle Assyrian, Mitanni and Neo-Assyrian periods.

Proposed association with Washukanni

The Neo-Assyrian city Sikan at nearby Ra's al-'Ayn was identified by Dietrich Opitz as the capital of Mitanni, Washukanni.
The name Sikan was then believed to be an Assyrianized version of its Hurrian, or Indo-Aryan original, becoming Sikan(-ni). No epigraphic, glyphic or other archaeological evidence supporting this identification has yet emerged from excavations at this or other sites. The identification thus rests on a purely etymologic basis. The etymology is challenged by Edward Lipiński, who points out that Sikan is a Semitic name (meaning stele) already attested for the site circa 2000 BC. A clay tablet sent from Washukanni to Egypt was chemically analyzed and compared with samples from Sikan; the result was "no-match".


The site is around 90 hectares in area, 12 of which are a high mound. Tell Fakhariyah came to the attention of Max von Oppenheim in the early 1900s. In 1929, during his excavations at Tell Halaf, he dispatched Felix Langenegger and Hans Lehmann to the site to do a field survey, resulting in the production of a contour map. In 1940, a team from the Oriental Institute of Chicago and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, led by Calvin W. McEwan, and which included Harold D. Hill, worked for a short period there, conducted several soundings, developed a contour map of the site, and collected various pottery and epigraphic objects. The later included 12 tablets and some fragments. The areas explored were mainly Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian. In 1955, Anton Moortgat conducted two soundings at Tell Fakhariyah, dated to the Mitanni empire period.
A brief excavation occurred in 2001 by the University of Halle-Wittenberg and the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums.
After a survey in 2005, a team from the Free University of Berlin and SAHI - Slovak archeological and historical institute and the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums resumed work at Tell Fakhariyah for a month in 2006. Excavations continued in 2007 for a period of 8 weeks.
In the 2009 season, 11 Middle Assyrian cuneiform tablets
were recovered from a layer early in the post-Mitanni period
of the site. In 2010, 40 texts and text fragments were found
in the same context. Preliminary translation shows them to be
administrative in nature. Eponyms link some to the reigns
of Shalmaneser I and Tukulti-Ninurta I.




Tell Fekheriye