Tell Afis is in Northwestern Syria in the governorate of Idlib. It is placed in a fertile plain next to an important crossroad, now as in antiquity, of routes running east-west and north-south.
Excavations at the site, started already in the ’70s of the past century by Paolo Matthiae, of the University of Rome La Sapienza, were resumed in 1986 by Stefania Mazzoni, of the University of Pisa and then of Florence, and Serena Maria Cecchini, of the University of Bologna, and stopped in 2011 due to the political disruption in the country.
Tell Afis has a long history of occupation from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age, when the site identified with ancient Hazrek, the capital city of the important Aramean kingdom of Hamath and Lu‘ash. For a synthesis of the history of the site and further information see the mission website:
In 2020 the Directorate of Antiquities of Syria recovered the materials still present in the warehouses the house of the archaeological mission of Tell Afis in Saraqib after the devastation occurred during the war. These materials, essentially pottery, lithics, bones, and paleobotanical specimens, were transferred to the museum of Marrat al-Nouman, also damaged during the war.
In 2021 the archaeologists of the University of Florence have started a rescue project, funded by the Foreign Office and the Orme Foundation, carrying out a mission of control and first intervention to safeguard these materials in this museum with a preliminary arrangement in boxes for their transfer to the museum of Hama.
In 2022, two campaigns were carried out for the assessment and reorganization of the materials transferred to the Hama Museum in collaboration with the institution’s local staff. On these occasions a series of restoration works on some vases of particular interest has also begun.
In 2023 the first phase of the project on these materials at the Hama Museum could be completed with their final arrangement in the local storerooms in view of a future temporary exhibition of a selection of them in one of the halls.