Old Makhmūr (Makhmūr al-Qadima, Kona Makhmūr)

The site was identified in the CORONA satellite imagery on the eastern outskirts of the modern town of Makhmūr, founded around 1880. The site is locally known as Old Makhmūr. We have hypothetically connected it with the monastery of Bēt Margāna and the ‘village’ of Zīnai, appearing in the 8th-century sources. The 72-hectares-large site was abandoned in the 9th century, lies for centuries in the non-cultivated landscape and therefore is perfectly visible in the relief. Nevertheless, the western part of the site has been recently levelled due to town expansion and some intra-site spots have been adapted for fields within last 30 years.

Probably non-fortified settlement area comprises several tens of low mounds, some of them are of large dimensions and regular plans. A conspicuous mound hiding most probably a large basilical church is situated in the centre of the site, flanked by regularly patterned area which may be considered to have been a monastery. This kernel was surrounded by densely built-up quarters. Large settlement mounds and, in particular, quadrilateral fortified residences (qusūr) encircled the urban site, hinting at the presence of elite. A water management system also comprised a 1.6 ha square reservoir and this indicates the presence of a developed agriculture.

Plan of the Kona Makhmur site with existing features
Kona Makhmur, plan of the site with existing features (black outlines), extinct features (blue), quadrilateral residences – qusur (green) and road netwotk (yellow dashed lines). Digital elevation model by K. Pavelka and J. Šedina

Picture of the fortified residence of Kona Makhmur
Kona Makhmur, a fortified residence (qasr) No. 1