Tell Leilan, ca. 1920 railroad station
Photo by Harvey Weiss (Yale University)

Early French mandate, ca. 1920, railroad station, post-and-beam construction, at Tell Leilan/Kubur al-Bid, northeast Syria, for cereal grain transport from Habur Plains west to Aleppo for capitalized grain market and redistribution. Former Ottoman lands lost to cultivation during Little Ice Age were seized and developed by the French state for retrieval of new cereal agriculture harvests.

Top photo: Tell Leilan Acropolis temple, ca. 1800 BC, with semi-engaged mud-brick spiral columns, was one of the first monumental buildings excavated by the Yale University Tell Leilan Project. When recovered in 1982, the temple and artifacts upon its floors were key for identifying the site as the “lost” city of Shubat Enlil, and attracted much attention among Near Eastern archaeologists. Now, after decades of paleoenvironmental and regional survey work, the temple is iconic of the post-2200 to 1900 BC drought, when conditions favorable for high-yield, dry-farming cereal agriculture returned to the region and encouraged resettlement of the Khabur Plains by former pastoral populations.