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Transactions of the Symposium on Photo Interpretation

sometimes with very little field control indeed. This is the case in Syria where,
since 1951, archaeological surveys have been carried out as a by-product of
interpretation of the photographs for other purposes (soil, land use, geology,
etc.). Only in 1955 was some field control done by a competent archaeologist
in the northern part of the country, but this has not been repeated since.
In 1953-4 the north-eastern part of the country a total area of 22,000 km 2
was surveyed at a scale of 1 : 20,000 (f = 150 mm) and in 1958 most of the
remaining areas at a scale 1 : 25,000 (f = 100 mm). For the major irrigation
projects along the main rivers detailed surveys have been made and are still
continuing at scales varying from 1 : 8,000 till 1 : 16,000. This provides a
wealth of material, which has been worked out only in part. The traces of an
cient remains, which are easily discernable on the photographs are transferred
onto 1 : 200,000 maps, but only one small part of these have been published.
For the detection of prehistoric sites, the photographs - even large scale ones -
have little value. It is only from the Bronze-, Iron-, Classical-, and Middle
Ages that the traces are visible, these being the remains of tells, villages, towns,
farms, roads, irrigation canals, field parcellations and - on the photographs of
larger scale - cemeteries.
However these traces are not distributed evenly in the areas that were former
ly populated. In some areas they are so dense, that almost any given photo
graph could be considered as a vertical projection of a museum. Other areas,
on the other hand, have few preserved, or at least visible on the surface. All
other factors such as topography and geology being equal, the best preserved
traces are in the zone of 250-400 mm rainfall. Towards the desert, as well as
towards the higher rainfall zone, erosion has removed many traces from the
surface or obliterated them from view. However, in that middle zone one can
often encounter the finest and most unexpected detail. A few examples may
suffice to illustrate this.
A stele with an Aramaic inscription found 40 km S.W. of Aleppo and dated
at about 800 B.C. tells the story of the Aramaic king Zakir, king of Hama and
La’ash, who, in spite of the fact that he was an usurper, was so successful in
his reign that 16 surrounding city-state kingdoms, under the leadership of the
king of Damascus, united against him and came with their armies to Khazrek,
his second capital, with the obvious intention of destroying him. They dug a
moat deeper than the moat of Khazrek and built a rampart higher than the
rampart of Khazrek. Zakir’s position seems hopeless. He is very scared, an
anxiety which can possibly be seen till the present day reflected in the
crude and powerful basalt statues from that epoque that stare at us with their
hollow eyes in the museums.
However Zakir calls on Ba’al-shamain, one of the principal Aramaic gods,
for help and Ba’al-shamain reassures him, protects him and saves him (histori
ans say however that it was the Assyrians who influenced the attackers into
breaking the siege). The walls and moat of Zakir’s Khazrek and those of the
other towns which he built in La’ash are now revealed in greatest detail on
the aerial photographs. Although the spade has not yet confirmed this, there