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The Geoarchaeology of Route Systems in


Northern Syria
Tony J. Wilkinson,1,* Charles French,2 Jason A. Ur,3 and
Miranda Semple2
1

Department of Archaeology, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK


Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, Downing Street,
Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK
3
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Peabody Museum,
11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
2

Linear valleys, termed hollow ways, form a distinctive feature of the North Syrian Bronze Age
landscape, but few have been described in detail or excavated. This paper examines the geoarchaeology of hollow way route systems in northern Syria at three scales of analysis: (1) from
satellite imagery, at which scale it is possible to examine patterns of hollow ways over very
large areas; (2) in the field, where cleaned sections supply ground control and dating evidence
for specific features or hollow ways; and (3) using soil micromorphology to investigate the formation processes evident in the hollow way fills. We also use ethnographic analogy to extend
the interpretation of the pattern of hollow ways. Finally, we examine the role of these features in the drainage network as well as their contribution to the development of alluvial fills
of the Khabur tributaries. The three sections examined demonstrated that the Brak hollow
ways were incised into the landscape, probably in the third millennium B.C. or slightly earlier.
The fills show evidence of episodic flow and low-energy soil wash with weak soil development over the last 4000 years. 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

INTRODUCTION
In Britain and much of Europe, hollow ways are frequently observed along
medieval or earlier roads, or are etched into the landscape as sunken lanes or within
deserted medieval villages (Taylor, 1979). In contrast, in the Middle East they are more
common around Bronze Age and Chalcolithic mounds (tells), where they form networks of roughly straight, shallow valleys that either radiate from the tells or, alternatively, trend across country, linking those sites as cross-country routes (Wilkinson,
1993; Ur, 2003). In northern Syria, hollow ways were first recorded and interpreted
as ancient roads or tracks by Van Liere and Lauffray (1954), and have been re-mapped
in greater detail by Jason Ur (in press a). Equivalent features have also been recognized in Iraq, where they are of similar scale and form (Oates, 1968; Wilkinson &
Tucker, 1995; Buringh, 1960; Altaweel, 2005), whereas in the southern Levant they
have been recognized in the loess terrain of the northern Negev (Tsoar & Yekutieli,
1993). Although geomorphological and hydrological processes have clearly played
a role in their formation, no studies have attempted to investigate them specifically
*Corresponding author; E-mail: t.j.wilkinson@durham.ac.uk.
Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 25, No. 6, 745771 (2010 )
2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com). DOI:10.1002/gea.20331

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from the perspective of geoarchaeology. Moreover, it has only been possible to date
them by their association with tells of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age date, with the
result that their age has been questioned, so that some scholars have suggested that
they were formed during the past few centuries.
Because they are distributed within a climatically marginal part of the Near East,
where mean annual rainfall averages between 250 and 400 mm per annum, it has
been suggested that the features were intentionally created to gather runoff from
the surrounding area in order to conduct flow toward the tell for purposes of domestic water flow and local irrigation (McClellan, Grayson, & Oglesby, 2000). However,
this hypothesis is not supported by topographic analysis, which demonstrates that
some hollow ways run over watersheds, and therefore they did not follow the
hydraulic grade (Wilkinson, 1993; Ur & Wilkinson, 2008: Figure 7; Deckers & Riehl,
2008). Nevertheless, it is true to say that the overland flow of water does play a role
in their development, and equivalent features in the southern Levant, although recognized as being the remains of ancient tracks, have been associated with patterns
of soil compaction and localized erosion that are specific to loess terrain (Tsoar &
Yekutieli, 1993).
METHODOLOGY
The present article attempts to describe the geoarchaeology, the date, and the
mode of formation of these features at three scales of analysis in the region of Tell
Brak in northern Syria (Figure 1):

as macroscopic features in the landscape using satellite imagery,


at the scale of a normal field investigation, and
at the micro-scale employing soil micromorphology.

The employment of all three scales of analysis enhances the understanding of


these features because insights drawn from any one scale of investigation can inform
the results accrued from one of the other scales. The landscape scale employs
CORONA satellite imagery alongside recent Quickbird imagery to obtain an overview
of the features over some 80 km2, and ultimately a total area of 2000 km2. Field investigations included leveling across individual features to obtain topographic profiles,
section cleaning to obtain stratigraphic sequences of ceramics, as well as sampling
locations for soil micromorphology and soil descriptions. Collected ceramics were
compared with type sequences from the excavations at Tell Brak, which provides a
fairly complete stratigraphic sequence from the late 5th to the late 2nd millennium
B.C. (Oates, Oates, & McDonald, 1997, 2001). Pre-5th millennium B.C. and post-2nd
millennium B.C. pottery types have been compared with ceramic sequences developed from excavations elsewhere in NW Iraq and NE Syria, as well as with a regional
ceramic types series developed for the purposes of archaeological survey (Ur, in
press a; Wilkinson & Tucker, 1995).
Three hollow ways were recorded in trenches dug by the local municipality around
grain storage areas (Figure 2): WP 061 (in 1999 to the NE of the tell), WP 050 (in
2005 to the NNE), and WP 040 (in 2005 to the NW of the tell). In WP 040, which
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Figure 1. Location of the Tell Brak area within northern Syria and the Middle East (inset).

Figure 2. Tell Braks radial pattern of broad (brown, Early Bronze Age) and narrow (buff, probably early
Islamic) hollow ways. The distribution of high-density surface sherds is shown in orange; other archaeological sites in black. Canals of probably Early Islamic date are in blue. The location of Figure 3 is indicated by the rectangle.

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received the most attention, the transverse profile was leveled, the cross-section
drawn, pottery contained in the exposed fills was collected for comparison with the
aforementioned type sequences, and soil samples were taken for soil micromorphological analysis.
REGIONAL SCALE INVESTIGATIONS: DISTRIBUTION OF HOLLOW
WAYS IN NORTHERN MESOPOTAMIA
After centuries or millennia of abandonment, hollow ways survive only in a much
transformed condition. Their depressed morphologies are partially or completely
filled in as a result of surface transportation of sediments, which has been exacerbated by 20th-century A.D. cultivation. In many cases, the infilling by plow wash has
been complete, and the features can only be recognized by elevated densities of vegetation such as slightly more abundant crops in the spring, and a disproportionate
amount of the dark green steppe weed Prosopis in the summer and fall. These signatures are difficult to recognize at ground level, and as a result all studies of hollow ways have relied heavily on remote sensing.
Poidebards initial aerial surveys of the 1920s (Poidebard, 1934) revealed many hollow way features, but he investigated them only from the air and brief ground visits; none were excavated or surveyed. In the 1950s soil scientist Willem van Liere and
archaeologist Jean Lauffray had access to complete air photo coverage of the Upper
Khabur basin of northeastern Syria and used it to produce an extensive map of features across the plain (Van Liere & Lauffray, 1954). In the 1980s, investigations took
place on the adjacent plains of northern Iraq, relying on aerial photographs and
detailed contour maps (Wilkinson, 1993). The use of aerial photographs for the North
Jazira Project is an exception for recent decades, as in almost all cases such images
were denied to archaeologists for reasons of national security.
Recent studies have therefore employed satellite imagery, especially declassified
intelligence photographs from the U.S. CORONA program (Fowler, 2004). These
photographs have been especially useful in confirming and expanding the work of
van Liere and Lauffray and others; over 6000 km of premodern hollow way features
have been documented across northern Mesopotamia (Ur, 2003, 2009). Although the
season of acquisition causes some variation, the signature of hollow ways on
CORONA is a thick dark line, generally on the order of 70120 m wide, and often
with lighter margins (Figure 3). The dark line results from elevated moisture, vegetation growth, or both. The lighter margins result from the inwardly sloping sides of
the features, which shed moisture and which also expose calcium carbonaterich horizons of paler hue.
Whereas conventional air photography and CORONA images have been successful
at recognizing hollow way systems, LANDSAT, SPOT, ASTER, and other more recent
imagery have been less useful. Even the high-resolution QuickBird images displayed
in Google Earth are less useful in recognizing hollow ways. Despite their multi-spectral
capability, a weakness of LANDSAT and related imagery is that their low resolution
and high pixel size is less able in recognizing features smaller than the pixel size of

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Figure 3. CORONA satellite photographs of the sampled hollow way (WP 040; rectangle to right of center). (a) 1102-1025DF007, 11 December 1967; (b) 1105-1025DF058, 5 November 1968; (c) 1108-1025DA006,
6 December 1969; (d) 1117-1025DF149, 27 May 1972.

the imagery, unless they are distinct and well defined, such as modern roads.
Furthermore, processes of landscape transformation resulting from intensive agriculture and associated plow wash have blurred and obscured such features and
made it impossible to recognize them on recent imagery such as those of the
QuickBird satellite (Figure 4). The ability to recognize hollow ways is well illustrated
on the CORONA image (Figure 5), which shows the last vestiges of hollow ways
around Brak.
The approximately 6000 km of hollow ways recognized in northern Syria and Iraq
are not evenly distributed; a combination of ancient settlement patterns and subsequent cultural and natural taphonomic processes has resulted in dense preservation
of hollow way features in the central and eastern parts of the basin, with far fewer
features in the western basin and on its margins. Nonetheless, two regularities in
patterning can be discerned.
Hollow ways preserve the patterns of both inter-site and inter-regional paths of
movement. Most commonly, hollow ways stretch directly between major Early
Bronze Age towns and cities and their smaller satellites. Segments also indicate
routes between the major cities. Of particular note is a major route running ESEWNW

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Figure 4. Landscape evolution on Braks north side. (a) CORONA satellite photograph (1105-1025DF058,
5 November 1968); (b) QuickBird image (4 October 2004): (1) northwestern hollow ways now covered
by municipal grain storage; (2) northern hollow ways now overlaid by southern expansion of the town
of Bir Helu; (3) northeastern hollow ways largely infilled by vigorous plowing; (4) Late Chalcolithic/Late
Bronze Age lower town settlement damaged by diesel pump irrigation for cotton; (5) tracks, canals, and
field boundaries of the Early Islamic town almost completely effaced by irrigation and deep plowing.

across the northern plains, approximating the historically important route between
Mosul in Iraq and Nisibin/Qamishli on the TurkishSyrian border (Ur, 2003:Figure 10;
Wilkinson, 1993:Figure 3). This route connects the major cities at Tell al-Hawa,
Hamoukar, and Tell Leilan, each in excess of 60 ha in the Early Bronze Age. It is
important to note, however, that the preserved hollow way segments do not run
directly between these major settlements, but rather extend between the cities and
intermediate towns and villages. Inter-regional movement ran from settlement to

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Figure 5. CORONA satellite photograph of Tell Brak, showing radiating hollow way features and the
location of the investigated hollow way sections WP 040, 050, and WP 061 (CORONA, 1102-1025DF007,
11 December 1967, published with permission). The white rectangle indicates the location of Figure 3.

settlement on local tracks in the Early Bronze Age; there were no superhighways that
disregarded small settlements.
The most common pattern of hollow ways is of simple radiating lines around
sites, most of which extend for 23 km and simply fade out. These tracks carried
people, animals, and wheeled vehicles from the settlement to the fields and to pasture beyond them (Wilkinson, 1993:560561). Since such quotidian movement was
so frequent, these agricultural and drove ways are the most frequent, and the largest
and most deeply incised. More importantly, these features formed because movement close to settlements was strongly constrained onto them by the presence of cultivated fields.
Because the fade-out point of hollow ways preserves the long-term interface
between a settlements cultivated fields and the uncultivated or pasture land beyond,
they can be used to reconstruct the agricultural catchments of sites (Ur & Wilkinson,
2008:312314; Wilkinson et al., 2007:5657). Although the precise layout of the rural

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landscape around the tell can only be conjectured, it appears, therefore, that the
hollow ways of concern here are landscape features that form part of the Bronze Age
settlement landscape.
Tell Braks System of Hollow Ways
Tell Brak, which stands over 40 m above the surrounding plain, dominates the
landscape of the Syrian Jazira to the northeast of Hasseka, and as ancient Nagar it was
a major center and regional capital in the mid-3rd millennium B.C. (Oates, Oates, &
McDonald, 2001). The tell had attained an area of 130 ha in the 4th millennium B.C.,
at which time it was surrounded by a series of subsidiary mounds of Late Chalcolithic
date (Oates et al., 2007; Ur, Karsgaard, & Oates, 2007). The site continued to play a
significant role in the Khabur Basin until approximately the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C., after which only intermittent occupation occurred to the NE of the tell
during the Roman, Sasanian, and early Islamic periods (Oates, Oates, & McDonald,
1997; Oates, 2005; Matthews, 2003; Ur, Karsgaard, & Oates, 2007). This deep history
of the site has now been complemented by the results of the Brak sustaining area survey, conducted under the directorship of Henry Wright, as well as by investigations
of the archaeological landscape which have taken place since 1999 (Oates, 2005: 2835;
Wright et al., 20062007). Although it is still difficult to determine with certainty
which sites were precisely contemporaneous, it is clear that the hollow ways radiating from a wide range of Bronze Age tells were distributed every few kilometers
across the landscape (Figure 6).
Environmental Context of Tell Brak
Tell Brak is today located in an area that is marginal for rain-fed agriculture. It is
likely, however, that the region was both better watered and had more wooded vegetation in the 4th and 3rd millennia B.C. Analyses of charred plant remains and alluvial fills along the Jaghjagh and tributaries demonstrate that oak park woodland was
significant in the region in the 3rd millennium B.C. and continued until the 3rd century A.D. (Deckers & Riehl, 2007). Moreover, the nearby perennial Jaghjagh River
exhibited a more stable flow regime within a broad, sinuous, and relatively shallow
channel between the mid-4th to mid-3rd millennia B.C., which then by the 1st millennium B.C. shifted to a more flashy flow regime within an entrenched meandering
channel (Deckers & Riehl, 2007; Wilkinson, 2003: 104105). Although the Brak area
was significantly drier than areas further to the north, unlike the majority of tells in
NE Syria and NW Iraq it is not situated on a wadi, nor is it close to any obvious water
source. Rather, it is 2.5 to 3.0 km from the Jaghjagh/Radd drainage system (Figure 2;
Deckers & Riehl, 2008: Figure 1), which, from the presence of in situ alluvial deposits
in association with 4th-millennium B.C. Late Chalcolithic pottery, appears to have
occupied its present course over the past 6000 years. The community may have been
reliant upon wells or a water hole for domestic water, which, to judge by paleoenvironment investigations, would have benefited from a higher water table and

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Figure 6. Hollow way features around Tell Brak in the central Upper Khabur basin. Selected major sites
of Early Bronze Age date are shown in circled triangles.

increased rainfall in the 4th and early 3rd millennia B.C. (Courty, 1994; Deckers &
Riehl, 2007). Brak, like Tell al-Hawa (NW Iraq) and Hamoukar (in NE Syria), is therefore an example of a major settlement that developed in a location where the proximity to water must have been a subordinate factor. This may be because the initial
phases of these settlements occupied places where people congregated for social,
religious, or economic reasons, or perhaps were places of social neutrality that were
suitable for exchange or ritual gatherings. This cautions that Braks location should
not, therefore, be understood simply in terms of physical circumstances or economic
productivity.

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HOLLOW WAYS AT FIELD SCALE: TWO EXAMPLES


FROM THE BRAK AREA
Tell Braks radiating hollow way pattern is the largest in the basin. Settlement at
Tell Brak took various configurations between 4200 B.C. and A.D. 900, producing a
settlement complex extending over roughly 300 hectares (Figure 2). From the edge
of this complex, broad features of hollow ways extend outward in all directions.
The longest preserved tracks, on the western side of the site, stretch as far as 6000 m,
and one even crosses over a small wadi. The pattern is truncated to the northeast and
southwest by the Jaghjagh River floodplain, and to the north by low stony hills that
appear not to have been conducive to hollow way formation. These northern features
have channeled surface runoff and are consequently the most topographically prominent. The features on Braks south and southeastern sides, however, are almost completely infilled, with one exception, a feature that may have channeled surface runoff
from the Brak complex into the Jaghjagh River (Wilkinson et al., 2001; Ur, in press a).
The majority of the hollow ways are broad and shallow, on the order of 70100 m
wide (Figure 2: brown). Elsewhere in the basin, such features are closely associated
with occupations of the later 3rd millennium B.C., the time of greatest urbanization
and agricultural intensification (Ur & Wilkinson, 2008; Wilkinson, 1993), but inferences
from settlement history suggests that the process of formation might have begun at
the time of Braks maximum extent in the 4th millennium B.C. (Ur, Karsgaard, &
Oates, 2007). A second set of tracks can be distinguished from these features by
their smaller width, rarely exceeding 15 m (Figure 2: white/buff). These narrower
features appear closely associated with a 14-ha settlement of the early Islamic period
(ca. A.D. 700900) that grew around an earlier Castellum at the northeastern corner
of the site. Also associated with this site is a network of possible canals that drew
water from the Jaghjagh River and apparently irrigated the zone east and southeast
of the Brak complex (Figure 2: blue). There is no historical record of this canal network, but field examination of the feature depression and the possible associated
upcast suggests that it was indeed a canal. This interpretation is supported by the trajectory of the features leading SW away from the Jaghjagh. This later irrigation system and its associated irrigation soils and sediments may be responsible for the lack
of preserved Early Bronze Age features in this area.
Tell Brak is located within a window of preservation in which a network of linear hollow ways has remained visible (Wilkinson, 2003; Ur, 2003). Unlike around
many sites in the region, where each tell might have some 48 radial hollow ways,
Tell Brak exhibits 1418 radial spokes in the sector where they are particularly visible, that is from roughly NE to SSW (Figure 2). In the remaining areas, hollow ways
are faint or weakly developed, probably because conditions for their development
or survival were not as good in this sector. As with other hollow ways in the region,
several spokes show acute angle branches (Figure 6).
In the immediate vicinity of Brak, the hollow ways lead into an area that can best
be described as a halo of slightly lower ground between the main mound and a
series of neighboring satellite mounds (Wilkinson et al., 2001; Ur, Karsgaard, &
Oates, 2007). Although of complex origin, the chemically reduced fabric of relict

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waterlogged soils exposed in sections within the halo suggest that part of this halo
contained seasonal water derived from runoff from the hollow ways. Because of
their resemblance to mud brick extraction pits adjacent to modern villages, it has been
suggested that the Brak pits were dug to supply clay and soil for the manufacture of
mud bricks (Wilkinson et al., 2001).
On the ground the hollow ways can be recognized by the concentration of green
vegetation (frequently the leguminous weed Prosopis) along the axis of hollow ways.
In turn, these vegetation alignments occupy shallow hollows, which form the distinctive broad alignments evident on aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite images. Leveled profiles across hollow ways at Brak and other parts of the Jazira
have shown that they form broad, shallow hollows, up to 100 m in width and less than
2 m in depth (Wilkinson, 2002; Ur & Wilkinson, 2008; Ur, 2003). However, very little
is known about their configuration under the surface, and since 1999, the opportunity was taken to investigate sections exposed in long trenches dug by the local
municipality (the belediyyah of Bir Helu) around grain storage compounds. In three
cases these cut through hollow ways visible on satellite images (Figures 2, 5: 061, 050,
and 040).
On the sections investigated, it was evident that the hollow ways corresponded
to alignments of vegetation, predominantly Prosopis shrubs. They formed slight
depressions, and possessed a subsoil profile infilled by later sediments containing
occasional sherds. This indicates that they had been deeper at some time in their history, and had subsequently infilled slowly with fine-grained sediment. The fills of
both examples drawn showed evidence of weak pedogenesis and were defined at their
deepest point by lenses of fine gravel and coarse sands, which appear to have been
washed by episodic flow along the main axis of flow.
WP 040 (2005) was evident thanks to an approximately 34-m-wide belt of leguminous Prosopis plants (Figure 7), which was sufficiently distinct to appear on satellite images. The instrumentally leveled profile of the hollow way showed that the
lowest point of the feature was 37 and 34 cm below the ground surface to the NE and
SW, respectively. Although a feature of such topographical subtlety is difficult
to define precisely, the leveled profile demonstrates that its total width from crest to
crest was roughly 75 m. When the topographic profile is exaggerated, the profile
appears to be assymetrical, with the northern slope being steeper than the southern,
so that the center at the ground surface is displaced some 810 m to the north of the
buried axis (Figures 8, 9, 10a). There were also some minor topographic irregularities of less than 15 cm amplitude on the southern slope. The total depth of fill was
120 cm and the asymmetrical profile suggests that the gradual infill of the feature
was predominantly from the south. Further details on the fills of this feature are
provided below and in Table I and Figure 11.
WP 050 (2005) was cleaned and pottery was collected from the individual cleaning spits in stratigraphic order. Topographic levels showed that this hollow way,
which was only a minor branch of a larger feature, formed a slight bench on the surface (Figure 9). Below the surface the pale brown fill was contained within a very
shallow depression and contained a total depth of fill of 100 cm. Most of the contained ceramics were undiagnostic, but a concentration of Late Chalcolithic and
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Figure 7. Hollow way WP 040 looking south, taken in September 2005. Note the distinctive line of vegetation marking the line of the hollow way in the mid-ground.

Figure 8. Exaggerated topographic profile of hollow way at WP 040, showing the position of the cleaned
section, the location of the vegetation mark, and the difference between the modern topographic long axis
and that of the original feature.

Late Ubaid sherds at the SW end of the hollow way appears to have been contained
within a pit unrelated to the development of the hollow way. This pit appears to have
predated the development of the hollow way, but the evidence for the hollow way
cutting the pit is weak.
WP 061 (1999) was well developed as a surface feature with a cross profile of
approximately 150 cm depth. Its 140-cm-deep fill consisted of light brown (7.5YR 6/4 dry;
4/4 wet) loam with a moderate subangular blocky structure containing fine filaments
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Figure 9. Topographic profile across hollow ways WP 050 (top) and 040 (below) according to their
approximate elevation above sea level.

Figure 10. Cross-sections of hollow ways WP 040 (a) and WP 061 (b). For WP 040, the numbers refer to
the layers indicated in Figure 11; gray shading denotes fine gravel (5). Note that for convenience the ground
surface is represented as a horizontal line; for topographic profiles of WP 040, see Figures 8 and 9.

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Table I. Field description of the hollow way fills.


Horizon

Depth

Field Description

Munsell Color

1.

15 cm

Light yellowish brown (dry), silt loam, occasional fine


root hairs, platy structure. Dumped soil.

10YR 6/4 (dry)


10YR 5/4 (wet)

2.

030

Very pale brown (dry), sandy loam, hard and massive;


rare small stones, rare potsherds and 1 or 2 plastic
bag fragments; distinct lower boundary. Recent plow wash.

10YR 7/4 (dry)


10YR 5/6 (wet)

3.

3060

Light brown (dry), silt loam; medium-coarse well-developed


subangular blocky structure; rareoccasional sherds, rare
stones. Appears dark. Pre-20th-century paleosol.

7.5 YR 6/4 (dry)


7.5YR 4/4 (wet)

4.

60120

Light brown (dry), silty clay loam with fine filaments of


CaCO3 on ped faces and in small voids. Occasional sherds
and occasional stones 3 cm.
Boundary from 4 to 6 weak and diffuse. Low-energy
aggradation. Hollow way fill.

7.5YR 6/4 (dry)


7.5YR 4/6 (wet)

5.

105110

Fine gravel (25 mm); poorly sorted, subrounded to


subangular, mainly off-white CaCO3; brown silty matrix.
Occasional sherds; mollusks absent. Hollow way fill and
calcareous gravel of intermittent flow.

No Munsell

6.

120 cm

Reddish yellow (dry), clay loam, plastic; commonabundant


CaCO3 soft concretions 1 cm. In places occasional large
subroundedsubangular clasts of calcrete crusts within the
natural calcic xerosol. No pottery. Natural soil substratum.

7.5YR 6/6 (dry)


7.5YR 4/6 (wet)

Figure 11. Detailed section of sampled column indicating location of soil micromorphological samples;
numbers 16, to the right, refer to soil descriptions on Table I. Figure 10a shows the location of Figure 11
as well as its geomorphological and stratigraphic context.

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of calcium carbonate, both suggestive of weak pedogenic activity. Rare to occasional


small stones and potsherds, and lenses of fine gravel (2 cm) on the base suggest that
aggradation of the fill occurred in the presence of some anthropogenic activity and
minor, intermittent flow along the axis of the feature (gray shading, Figures 10a, b).
Field evidence suggested that the above-mentioned hollow ways contained significant quantities of pottery, usually well rolled, dating back to the 3rd and 4th millennia
B.C., and the presence of moderately developed soil structure and fine filaments of calcium carbonate on ped faces suggest that sufficient time had elapsed for the some
pedogenic activity to develop. More detailed information on the mode of formation of
the fills of WP 040 (2005) was then undertaken using soil micromorphology.
MICROMORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF HOLLOW WAY WP 040
Micromorphological analysis was used to ascertain the nature of the fill deposits
of the hollow way and identify the formation processes responsible. Accordingly,
significant fills of hollow way WP040 were sampled for micromorphological analysis by Miranda Semple and T.J. Wilkinson (Figures 10a, 11). Samples were prepared
by J. Boreham into thin sections using the methodology of Murphy (1986), and
described using the terminology of Bullock et al. (1985) and Stoops (2003). Thin section locations are indicated on Figure 11 and summary descriptions are in the
Appendix. The fills are described in Table I and illustrated in Figure 12.
The Subregional Soil
Although only the modern topsoil adjacent to the hollow way was examined,
geoarchaeological and soils work around the mound skirt of Tell Brak had been
undertaken previously (Wilkinson et al., 2001). Tell Brak is located in an area of
extensive alluvial and colluvial silt and sandy silts derived from calcareous mountains
in southern Turkey (Courty, 1994). The soils of the immediate area have been mapped
as Mediterranean brown soils on conglomerate (Weiss, 1986: Figure 6) or as calcic
xerosols (FAO-UNESCO soil map of the world). In the immediate vicinity of Tell
Brak there is much recent soil erosion off the mound itself, creating fans of colluvial material, both on and adding to the modern topsoil. Profile observation by
Wilkinson in 1991 and French and Matthews in 1993 in the immediate vicinity of Tell
Brak indicate that there can be as much as 80 cm of eroded calcitic silt and occupation
debris derived from the tell mound that has aggraded on clay loam alluvial deposits,
all developed on a calcitic silty clay loam paleosol (Wilkinson et al., 2001: 610). In one
instance this paleosol has been dated to pre-Middle Uruk times (or pre-3500 B.C.)
and is equated with the main period of occupation at Tell Brak (Oates, Oates, &
McDonald, 2001: Table I).
Two comparable soil profiles were taken from the modern soil profile immediately
adjacent to the hollow way under investigation (samples Reg. 1 and Trans. 1). Both
were brown calcitic sandy clays with about 25% fine gravel size concretions of calcium carbonate. They exhibited a dense, aggregated to small irregular blocky ped
structure defined by fine channels (Figure 12a). There are rare channel fills of weakly
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Figure 12. Thin sections of the natural soils and hollow way fills: (a) Calcitic fabric with blocky ped structure defined by fine channels (sample Reg. 1) (frame width 10 mm; plane polarized light). (b) Calcitic
silt crust fragment (in lower left corner) in calcitic fabric of sample 1b (frame width 10 mm, plane polarized light). (c) Calcitic dusty clay infills in sample 1b (frame width 10 mm, plane polarized light). (d) Fine
planar voids in sample 2 (frame width 4.5 mm; plane polarized light). (e) Pellety, bioturbated fabric in
sample 3b (frame width 4.5 mm; plane polarized light). (f) Sparite calcium carbonate replacing roots and
striated dusty clay in a void in sample 3b (frame width 10 mm; cross polarized light). (g) Horizontally oriented calcitic silt fabric (center of slide) in sample 4 (frame width 4.5 mm; plane polarized light). (h) The
massive to blocky calcitic basal palaeosol in sample Lat. 3 (frame width 10 mm; plane polarized light).

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birefringent silty (or dusty) clay, which testify to some slaking of fines (silt and clay)
down profile, as well as a few included fine sandsize fragments of bone and organic
matter. This soil is ploughed today, subject to colluvial additions from the mound,
and the bare surface affected by rain splash and strong evapotranspiration.
The Hollow Way Fills
All of the fills of the hollow way (Figures 11, 12ce) are a golden brown, silt-size
calcium carbonate with minor very fine to medium quartz sand, clay, and ca. 1025%
fine calcium carbonate gravel (5 mm). They exhibit a variably expressed blocky to
columnar ped structure with a pellety or bioturbated microstructure. Particular additional features for each major fill horizon are briefly described below.
The modern overburden samples (1a and 1b) have a predominantly excremental
fine fabric with common vughs. Calcitic dusty clay infills and the occasional calcitic
crust fragment are evident (Figsures 12b, 12c), indicating wetdry surfaces
and within soil intercalation associated with water stagnation and drying out (cf.
Fedoroff & Courty, 1987: 215). A few soil faunal excrements and micrite-replaced plant
tissue fragments suggest that there was once a much greater included organic
component that has been destroyed through a combination of soil faunal mixing
and oxidation processes. There are also a few included fragments of pottery,
animal bone, and dung present, which indicate the continuing fine erosive input off
the mound.
The recent plow wash beneath (sample 2) contains a few near continuous void
infills of micrite, a few zones of fine planar voids and dusty calcitic coatings (Figure 12d).
The former indicates plant rooting and the influence of calcium-rich groundwater,
and the latter possibly intermittent inwashing of fine sediment. It is strongly suspected that subsequent bioturbation has destroyed much of the evidence for the
slow episodic nature of the filling of the hollow way (and see samples 4 and Lat. 3
below).
The pre-20th century paleosol (samples 3a and b) was composed of a fabric similar to the adjacent modern topsoil, with much of it completely reworked by the soil
fauna (Figure 12e). A few discontinuous infills of dark grayish/yellowish brown, striated silty clay and sparitic calcium carbonate (Figure 12f) attest to some illuviation
of fines down profile and in situ rooting.
The main fill of the hollow way in samples 4 and 5 is characterized by a golden
brown, silt-size calcium carbonate with minor very fine to medium quartz sand, clay,
and ca. 10% calcium carbonate gravel components. Sample 4 exhibits a dense, very
well-developed columnar to irregular blocky ped structure which occasionally
exhibits horizontal orientation (Figure 12g). This is suggestive of stop/start episodes
of aggradation and slight crusting of a temporary surface (cf. Fedoroff & Courty,
1987: 215). Sample 5 exhibits a dense, fine crumb/aggregated ped microstructure
within a weakly developed small irregular blocky structure, with much larger cracks,
perhaps root or soil faunal holes, that are filled with similar material in pellety or
excremental form.

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Associated Basal Paleosol


A sample (Lat. 3) taken from the transition to the undisturbed paleosol at the
base and in the southern side of the hollow way profile is a brown, silt-size calcium
carbonaterich soil with minor very fine to medium quartz sand, clay, and ca. 10% fine
calcium carbonate gravel less than 5 mm diameter (Figure 12 h), very similar to the
modern topsoil. This fabric exhibits a well developed blocky ped structure defined
by channels, but with common (1020%), fine irregular zones of amorphous to micritic
calcium carbonate within the groundmass. These features probably result from the
presence of organic matter, both in situ and accumulated in the hollow, with the carbonate component mainly derived from groundwater enrichment (Courty, Dhir, &
Raghavan, 1987:230). Immediately above the basal soil is a similar material with evident fine horizontal laminae, again suggesting a fine cumulative aggradational dynamic
as observed in samples 2 and 4 (see preceding).
Soil Micromorphology: Discussion
There is little variation in the matrix and structure of the horizons acting as the
fills of the hollow way. This suggests that the hollow way is being filled with material derived from the immediate vicinity, but which is reworked through localized erosion and then the soil fauna. In particular, the upper one-third of the hollow way fill
has been much affected by stagnant water accumulation. Subsequent to its slow and
intermittent accumulation in the hollow way, a blocky to columnar ped structure
developed through wetting and drying cycles (Fitzpatrick, 1993:131). The predominance of calcium carbonate throughout the matrix and in the pore space reflects
the parent material as well as cycles of groundwater enrichment, drying and evaporation, and in situ rooting (Fitzpatrick, 1993:187, 203).
The basal paleosol exhibits a fabric similar to the pre-20th-century soil fabric (in
sample 3a), with evidence of in situ rooting and organic accumulation, and the influence of calcium carbonateenriched groundwater. In the field it also contained a
few large clasts of calcrete crusts, possibly indicative of the incorporation of waterrolled, then dried, surface material. The modern topsoil, while ostensibly similar to
the basal paleosol, contains minor amounts of anthropogenic debris and slaked silty
clay in the voids as a result of modern plowing activity and episodes of hillwash type
erosion off the skirt slopes of the Tell Brak mound.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE HOLLOW WAY FILLS
Pottery was collected from three areas of the cleaned section WP 040: a 10-mlong section to the north, a 14-m-long section in the centre, and a 6-m section from
the south, and from a similar subdivision of WP 050. A total of 175 sherds were recovered from WP 040, and 145 from WP 050 (no counts were undertaken from WP 061).
Collected pottery was washed in the field, sketched, and described, and compared
to a ceramic type series, as stated in the Methodology section (further details are
supplied in Wilkinson, French, & Semple, in press). All sherds were small, relatively
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rolled, and indistinguishable from the field scatters that are found on the fields
around Brak to a distance of at least 2 km from the site. Potsherds were recovered
from all layers cleaned down to a maximum depth of 175 cm below the 0 m datum.
In the cleaned sections, the maximum number of sherds recovered was from depths
of 70130 cm (north), 90110 cm (centre), and 70100 cm (south), which corresponds
to fill layer 4 (as described in Table I and above) and the associated fine gravel lenses.
Both chaff-tempered and characteristic 3rd- millennium B.C. fine stonewares were
occasionally present throughout the sequence, to the base (Wilkinson, French, &
Semple, in press). In addition, sherds of probably Mitanni or Old Babylonian bowls
(Oates, Oates, & McDonald, 1997) and Middle or Late Assyrian bowls from between
100 and 148 cm depth indicate that the lower levels were accumulating during the 2nd
millennium B.C. or slightly later. A mid/late Early Bronze Age fine stoneware flat
base and an incised and slashed cordoned sherd at ca. 170 cm depth at the base of
the hollow way suggests that the accumulation of sediments at the base of the feature took place no earlier than the mid-3rd millennium B.C. Possible Halaf and
beveled rim bowl sherds were recovered from the north section, but because most
pottery is residual, the presence of some very ancient sherds is hardly surprising.
The total of 320 sherds recovered from the cleaned sections suggest that the
episode of infilling of the hollow way appears to have commenced in the midlate
3rd millennium B.C., with the main accumulation (layer 4) taking place in the 2nd or
1st millennium B.C. This main accumulation phase contained a large number
of sherds that were residual in the fill and were probably eroded from the surface of
the surrounding fields. Finally, stabilization appears to have occurred, with the pedogenesis of layer 3 taking place from perhaps the 1st millennium B.C. through until
approximately the 19th century A.D.
PROCESSES OF FORMATION AND THE ROLE OF HOLLOW
WAYS IN THE DRAINAGE NET
The hollow way fills include very weakly developed soil horizons. Although fine
gravel is present in all three hollow ways examined, these lenses do not form part
of a conventional suite of alluvial deposits or wadi deposits, in which the strata consist of, for example, a sequence of channel, point bar, overbank, and flood plain
deposits. Rather, occasional episodes of low-energy channel flow are represented by
the fine gravels (pea grits), but there are no other associated water-lain sediments.
In the fine matrix, soil structure development and bioturbation have predominated
over processes of sedimentation, which supports the micromorphological interpretation that the rate of filling has been slow and gradual but was often affected by
wet/dry conditions. By the time the darker horizon 3 had accumulated, the rate of
sediment accumulation appears to have been reduced to a minimum; this layer
appears to be a soil that developed over a long period of landscape stability, which
allowed a weak soil profile to develop. The later part of this long period of stability
can probably be equated with the late Ottoman period when, according to Ottoman
tax records and numerous travelers since the 16th century, this part of the Khabur
basin was not settled by sedentary communities and was devoid of cultivation
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(Gyn & Htteroth, 1997). The overlying layer 2, which is significantly more sandy,
appears to be the result of the accumulation of plow wash over the 50 to 100 years
that have elapsed since the area was resettled in the 1930s and especially since World
War II.
When compared with other gravel fills in the region, the fine gravels of the hollow ways can be seen to form the third of three classes of channel sediments:
1.

2.

3.

Pleistocene medium-coarse gravels, far traveled, with their component stones


derived from an Anatolian source. These distinctive and well-rounded gravels mainly occur in the Late Pliocene and Pleistocene sequences of the upper
Khabur basin, and they resemble gravels of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
and their Pleistocene terraces.
Moderately well-rounded medium-coarse gravels, mainly of limestone, but
also containing occasional stones of the suite 1 gravels. These are predominantly associated with the gravels of the Jaghjagh and other Khabur tributaries.
Fine gravels, subrounded to subangular, mainly of off-white calcium carbonate clasts within a brown silt-clay matrix. These were derived from the local
soils, where in their natural state they developed over several millennia as
soft concretions of calcium carbonate.

The presence of class 3 fine gravels both at the base of the hollow way fills and
in the soil micromorphological samples, as well as the complete absence of Class 1
and 2 sediments, indicates that the hollow way gravels represent locally derived sediments. These occupy the lowest-order valleys in the region, and are probably
washed out of the neighboring soils by localized erosion. Such gravels are frequently
evident in many parts of the world after heavy rains, when runoff becomes concentrated along the relatively impermeable surfaces of tracks and paths.
The interpretation that the Brak hollow ways primarily functioned as hydraulic
features that were deliberately constructed to bring water to the tell (McClellan,
Grayson, & Oglesby, 2000), is not supported by the present analysis. Although the hollow ways did conduct occasional water flows in a low-energy but flashy regime, the
pattern of hollow ways does not relate to any known or inferred field systems, but
rather focused on the site and its surrounding halo (Wilkinson et al., 2001). Neither
is there any evidence for water-diversion structures or sedimentary upcast, as is
characteristic of excavated canals (Wilkinson, 2003: 4547).
Hollow ways developed as part of the local drainage network, and in the upper
Khabur, in general, they contributed to increased drainage density and channel
length. In the case of the Tell Brak hollow ways, the dense radial network to the
north and west appears to have converged on the halo of slightly lower ground
that surrounded the site to contribute excess water to a series of ponds around the
site. Surplus flow then appears to have overflowed into one of the well-developed
hollow ways running SW from the halo, probably to discharge into the Jaghjagh
River immediately to the south. There is no evidence that such a system was managed; rather, it seems to result from the radial development tracks around
the site and the need for flowing water to follow the topographic grade. Overall, the
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networks of hollow ways appear to have had the following effect on the geoarchaeology of the region:

They resulted in increased channel length (6000 km in the Khabur basin)


and probably increased channel connectivity.
The erosion of a large volume of soil from hollow ways (between roughly 60
and 300 million m3 over the upper Khabur basin). This estimate assumes a
total length of hollow ways of 6000 km, a range of widths from 20 to 100 m, and
a conservative depth of 1 m.
Partial storage of sediment eroded from fields and pastures.
There appears to have been rapid evacuation of sediments from what were
probably unbounded open fields. Therefore, despite the low gradient of the
terrain, there was significant erosion and transport of sediment, ultimately
into the tributaries of the Khabur River.

The above estimates of aggregate hollow way length and removed soil are estimates
based on measurements of linear features within a GIS database; these lengths
depend, of course, on the interpretation of the scale of the features identified on the
CORONA images. Nevertheless, they suggest how human-induced features like hollow ways can contribute to the development of channel networks as well as supplying overland flow into conventional natural drainage networks.
Despite the large number of sherds recovered from the fills, they are difficult features to date because of the process of recycling of ceramics within field areas, as
well as the mode of incorporation of ceramics into the hollow way fills. Because the
hollow ways are eroded through areas that were inferred to have been under longterm cultivation, with the exception of a small number of Chalcolithic sites, there is
no direct source for the pottery recorded from the hollow ways. Intensive surveys
of the immediate sustaining area of Brak suggest that the areas surrounding the main
occupation areas comprise low-density field scatters comparable to those recorded
around Tells Hamoukar and Hawa to the NE as well as elsewhere in the Fertile
Crescent (Ur in press, a and b; Wilkinson & Tucker, 1995). Such scatters are interpreted as resulting from the hauling of organic refuse from the settlement areas,
where they are applied to the field as fertilizer (Wilkinson, 1982). Although such a
process will only require a few years (or generations at the most) for the included
pottery to be incorporated into the fields, the ceramics will then reside in the field
soils for an unknown duration. The combined residence times within middens, during transport to the fields, within the field soil, and also as a result of overland flow
from the field to the hollow way must result in a time lag of unknown duration, but
which might be as much as a thousand years. Such lags mean that the fills may be
significantly younger than the estimated dates of the contained pottery.
The ceramic age estimates of hollow way fills, when combined with the results
of soil micromorphology, field descriptions, and analysis of satellite imagery, allows
the following model of hollow way development to be suggested (Figure 13). Feature
WP 040 appears to have slowly accumulated sediment washed from the surrounding landscape over the past 30004000 years. The other hollow ways investigated
appear to have experienced a similar history. The formation of the hollow way void
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Figure 13. Reconstruction of a hollow way showing a schematic chronology of the process of wearing
down (to right) and infilling (to left).

therefore took place before this accumulation, that is, before either the late 3rd millennium B.C. (i.e., the date of the latest sherd in the base of the feature), or somewhat later, allowing for the above-mentioned lags in the transport of ceramics to the
hollow ways. In other words, the act of wearing down the hollow way would have
taken place over the previous few centuries or millennia.
Such abrasion results probably from the frequent movement of thousands of
domestic animals, plow teams, local people, and travelers, amplified by overland
flow, and the resultant traction would have progressively reduced the terrain and left
no archaeological trace of earlier activity. Moreover, because the hollow ways investigated represent the abandonment phase of routes, we should not expect to recover
the evidence of human traction within the fills. It is therefore not surprising that soil
micromorphology failed to find evidence of soil compression, hoof disturbance, or
wheel ruts. Although we have no evidence for the date of the abrasion activity, the
long duration of occupation at Tell Brak, and the sheer scale of the assumed activity,
especially during the 4th millennium B.C. suggests that the formation of the
hollow way took place over a protracted period during the 2nd, 3rd, and perhaps
4th millennia B.C.
Ever since the seminal publication on hollow ways of the Khabur by Van Liere and
Lauffray (1954), these features have been interpreted as resulting from the traction
of people and animals moving out from the settlement to the outlying fields and pastures as well as to neighboring settlements (Wilkinson, 1993; Ur, 2003). However,
one of the remarkable features of the Khabur hollow ways associated with the Bronze
Age sites is their width. Feature 040 measured some 75 m from crest to crest, and most
can be seen to range from 50150 m wide (Ur, 2003; Ur & Wilkinson, 2008). Although
it is likely that the tracks were bordered by some kind of boundary in order to prevent animals from getting into fields to consume crops, the actual tracks contained
by such boundaries appear to have been of considerable width.
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In scale, the Brak hollow ways resemble droveways rather than simple trackways. Good examples are found in the Appenines of Italy, where great droveways
(tratturi) enable the flocks to migrate annually from the summer upland pastures
to the lowlands and back (Barker, 1995: 3436). They also have their parallels in the
droveways of Britain, alongside which were broad verges and greens to provide
additional forage for the passing animals (Muir, 2006: 190; Haldane, 1997: 32).
Observation of flocks of sheep in Syria demonstrates that although these can be
constrained to walk in single file, they frequently can be observed 1020 or more
abreast, not only churning up the soil across a broad swathe of terrain, but equally
sending a cloud of dust that can rise into the lower atmosphere and be whirled away
to be redistributed over a wide area. In addition, deviations by the human and animal traffic from the main track in order to avoid the swamps and puddles resulting
from winter rains would have contributed to their breadth. When rain fell in excess
of the ability of the soil to absorb it, runoff from adjacent cultivated fields would
have eroded the side slopes and increased the width of the hollow ways and, like dirt
tracks in the region today, they would have become arteries for the flow of runoff
from the land surface. As a result, calcium carbonate concretions from the subsoil
B horizons would have been incorporated in the fills, together with potsherds accumulated on fields as a residue from both settlement and fertilization.
As has long been known, and was demonstrated by McClellan, Grayson, and
Oglesby (2000), the hollow ways did episodically conduct water, and the presence
of axial pea grit fills demonstrates that such flow was sufficiently powerful to transport and deposit fine gravel up to about 58 mm across. However, because topographic
profiles along the full length of a single hollow way occasionally included significant reversals of gradient, especially where they crossed watersheds, the transport
of water evidently was not their primary function (Wilkinson, 1993). Rather, it was
an incidental result of their developing as depressions in the agricultural landscape.
The transportation of water along hollow ways during the winter wet season would
therefore have contributed water to the low parts of the halo surrounding Brak,
especially wherever there were open pits (Wilkinson et al., 2001). Whether this created a bonus water supply or a problem in the form of the development of fetid pools
is difficult to say without further investigation. Nevertheless, it is likely that such a
breeding ground for mosquitoes and accumulation place for effluents may have created a health hazard for the community at Brak. Overall, the increased channel network would have contributed to the amplitude of wadi floods.
The radial pattern of the hollow ways is evidently the result of Brak being the
center from which, for millennia, people and animals radiated out into the rural landscape. Such a radial pattern is not only evident around some traditional communities in the region today (Wilkinson, 2003: Figure 6.13), it is also apparent over large
areas of the West African savannah, where tracks radiate out for some 46 km from
nodal villages (Smith, 2008).
From the above discussion it appears that the nodal structure of the Jazira settlement in the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age determined the distinctive radial pattern
of the hollow ways. On the other hand, it was the process of movement of both animals and humans along these radial tracks that resulted in their considerable breadth.
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CONCLUSIONS
The geoarchaeological and excavated evidence supports the conclusion that the
hollow ways around Tell Brak are indeed ancient features containing pedologically
mature fills that appear to have accumulated in a low-energy depositional environment over the past 4000 or so years. The voids of the hollow ways probably developed when Brak was a major city with outlying satellite communities, during the
4th millennium B.C. (that is in the Late Chalcolithic). This was also when the surrounding region, according to the Brak Sustaining Area Survey, was very densely
settled (Oates, 2005: 3233; Wright et al., 20062007).
An immediate benefit of the investigation of hollow ways at a variety of scales is
that the seemingly negative evidence provided by, for example, soil micromorphology, can be interpreted when they are viewed as dormant features of the cultural
landscape. Because the evidence for hollow way formation has been removed by
the later phases of development, the soil micromorphological evidence relates to a
subsequent phase of intermittent aggradation within a later hydrological and depositional regime.
Overall, the hollow ways of Brak cannot be understood simply through their geomorphology alone; it is necessary to analyze results drawn from soil micromorphology in conjunction with regional settlement patterns and ethnographic analogies
drawn from a wider sphere. No single technique allows us to make a clear interpretation of these features. Clearly, more investigation is required because their long duration must have coincided with many different phases of landscape formation. Over
the several millennia of their use, the proportion of animals and humans passing
along them will have varied as the ratio of cultivation to pasture changed. They
would also have experienced a change of use during any phases when the central settlement of Brak was abandoned.
The present dating of the fill layers represents only one segment of sedimentation
along a hollow way. Other parts of the system may have accumulated over a different chronology, because there is no reason to assume that sedimentation occurred
synchronously throughout the entire hollow way network. Finally, at a larger scale,
there is need for further research to determine quantitatively how hollow ways contributed to the extension of regional hydraulic systems.
This article is dedicated to Joan Oates and the late David Oates, who not only made early contributions
to the recognition of hollow ways, but who have encouraged the analysis of landscapes as presented in
this article. Julie Boreham of Earthslides is thanked for making the soil thin sections, as is David Redhouse,
Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, for producing Figure 12. We are also grateful to Mac
Gibson, David Tucker, Ben Saunders, and Henry Wright for discussions of the Brak features and hollow
way as well as to three anonymous reviewers whose comments enabled significant improvements to be
made to the final version of this paper. The work described would not have been possible without the permission and support of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Damascus, especially
Professor Dr. Bassam Jammous, Professor Dr. Michel Maqdissi, as well as the director of the Hasseka office
of the DGAM, Mr. Abd al-Massieh Baghdo. The research also falls within the framework of the AHRC-funded
Fragile Crescent Project and the NSF-funded MASS projects.

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Received 26 September 2009


Accepted for publication 9 February 2010
Scientific editing by the guest editors

770

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Brown (CPL/PPL), silt-size calcium


carbonate with minor very fine to
medium quartz sand (7%) and clay
(5%) with about 25% fine gravel size
concretions of calcium carbonate

As above, but ca. 10% fine gravel size


calcium carbonate

As above

As above

Golden brown (PPL/CPL), silt-size


calcium carbonate with minor very
fine to medium quartz sand (7%),
clay (5%), ca. 10% fine limestone
pebbles (5 mm), and 5% aggregates
of amorphous calcium carbonate

As above

As above

As above

As above, with ca. 2025% fine


limestone pebbles, 10 mm,
subrounded

Trans. 1

Lat. 2

Lat. 3

1/1a & b

1/2

1/3a & b

1/4

1/5

Main Fabric

Reg. 1

Sample

Structure

Dense, fine crumb/aggregated ped microstructure within


a weakly defined small irregular blocky structure, with
very fine organic punctuations

Dense, well-developed, columnar to small, irregular


blocky

Dense, weakly developed irregular blocky with pellety


microstructure

Dense, moderately well-developed small blocky with


pellety microstructure

Weakly developed, small, irregular to columnar blocky


ped structure defined by fine, short channels (0.5 mm
wide, 25 cm long), with a predominantly pellety
microstructure (1 mm); common (ca. 1020%) irregular
vughs within and between peds; zones of fine planar voids

Disturbed by rooting or soil faunal burrows

Few small aggregates of similar fabric but more humic


in voids; few zones of horizontal orientation/organization to
the groundmass

In 3b, few discontinuous infills with dark grayish brown,


sparite calcium carbonate and striated silty clay

In 3a, complete to discontinuous inills of pellety fine fabric;

Few continuous infills of channels/voids with micrite;


slightly laminar

Few calcitic dusty clay infills; rare calcitic silt crusts;


few minor fragments of pottery, bone, animal dung,
and excrements 250 mm; few zones of amorphous
iron in groundmass; rare fragment of iron-replaced plant
tissue; very fine dust of charcoal (5%)

Common (1020%), fine irregular to subrounded zones of


amorphous to micritic, pale gray (PPL) calcium carbonate
within the groundmass, 1 mm

10:18 AM

Well-developed blocky ped structure defined by channels


with pellety to small aggregated microstructure

Weakly developed irregular to small blocky with pellety


microstructure

Near continuous channel linings and fills with dusty or


silty clay

Rare channel fills of weakly birefringent silty clay; and


rare silty clay aggregates (500 mm) in groundmass,
and minor eroded anthropogenic debris

Additional Features

10/13/10

As above

Dense, aggregated to weakly developed, small,


irregular blocky, becoming less well defined with depth

Detailed Soil Thin Section Descriptions

APPENDIX

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