You are here:The site»History of the expedition»History of the expedition

History of the expedition


Tell Afis lies at the northern border of the fertile Idlib plain, 11 km north of Tell Mardikh/Ebla. The first excavations of the site were conducted in 1970, 1972 and 1978 by the Italian Archaeological Mission of the University of Rome, directed by Paolo Matthiae. They concentrated on the acropolis, where remains of a large building were brought to light as well as densely packed domestic units, suggesting extensive occupation during the Iron Age. A new joint excavation project, directed by Stefania Mazzoni, was started in 1986 by the Universities of Pisa, Roma-La Sapienza and Bologna, aimed primarily at the investigation of the Iron Age levels but also extending the research into the earlier phases. Many operations were planned: in the Lower Town South (Areas D1-2), North (Areas B1-3, F, H, M), on the acropolis along the western (Areas E1-4) and eastern slopes (Areas N1-2), on the western (Areas A1-3, J) and eastern rise (Area G, L). The project, now carried on by OrMe (Fondazione per l'Oriente Mediterraneo) and the University of Florence, under the direction of Stefania Mazzoni, includes the survey of the landscape of Afis marked by the alluvial valley (the Jazr of medieval times) which is bordered on its southern and northern edges by the piedmonts of the Zawiye and Seman mountains, and on its western and eastern sides by the Ruj and the Nahr el Quqeiq depressions. The excavations in Tell Afis and the survey give evidence of a lengthy and continuous occupation of this fertile and nodal plain from the Late Neolithic to the Islamic periods, or archaeological phases Afis I-X.