This impressive site has been excavated by an Italian team under the direction
of Professor Paolo Matthiae since 1964.
It has yielded some
extraordinary archaeological information, not least of which is the famous Ebla archive. This collection of correspondence, written in cuneiform on
clay tablets and dating to around 2,400 BC, has revealed a sophisticated
urban civilization with extensive trading links and diplomatic concerns.
The discovery really put Syrian archaeology on the map and began the
process of looking at the ancient civilizations of Syria in its own
context - not just from the perspective of its neighbours in Mesopotamia,
Anatolia, or Palestine.
Over the years, the excavations have revealed palaces, temples and large
religious precincts and defences - all the attributes of a major urban centre.
The Italian team have been particularly innovative in their conservation and
restoration work on the ancient mud brick city which they are uncovering.
An annual re-plastering of the Palace, including the Archive Room where
the clay tablets were found, preserves these buildings to a state similar
to that in which they were first found. Elsewhere, the team has been
experimenting with adding adhesive solutions to the mud brick composition
to produce tougher bricks for reconstruction.
The Middle Bronze Age Gateway at Ebla
(F. Cobbing, 1997)
The excavations have revealed substantial defences at Ebla, dating
to the Middle Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC, and also previously
in the Early Bronze Age (3rd Millennium BC).
Architecturally, the use of upright stones (orthostats) in
the gateway anticipates their prolific use in buildings at many
Syrian sites during the subsequent Late Bronze and Iron Ages,
illustrating a continuity of building tradition.