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Chapter 5: Neolithic 3 Tell Sheikh (Pages 314-315)

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One other Neolithic site, Tell Sheikh, has been excavated in the Amuq plain. It lies a little south of Jisr Hadid and west of the present course of the Orontes River. When Woolley excavated Tell Atchana he found that the city was first settled in the Early Bronze Age. Seeking to obtain a record of earlier periods of occupation than this in the Amuq plain he excavated Tell Sheikh because the surface material indicated that the site was older than Atchana (See Page 22 in *1 Below). The site was probably a large mound originally but most of it has been buried under the alluvium of the plain. 12 levels of occupation could be distinguished, 11 of which had affinities with Halaf and northern Ubaid (See Page 64 in *2 Below). The settlement of Level XII had been founded on the natural subsoil and was the earliest occupation on the site. It consisted of rectilinear mud-brick buildings with associated floor levels.

The excavation has never been fully published so that we do not know how varied the artifacts were. From the little material I have seen in Ankara and Antakya it would seem that the chipped stonne industry of Level XII consisted of Amuq 2 type arrowheads, abruptly-retouched tanged arrowheads, segmented backed sickle blades, single-blow burins, end-scrapers on blades, discoid and side-scrapers. These artifacts are broadly comparable with those found in Amuq A and B although the sickle blades are a slightly later type which may have come from the upper levels at Tell Sheikh. The pottery was a fairly uniform hard-fired ware with a dark fabric incorporating a little sandy filler. The vessels were mostly simple, rather heavy bowls with thickened plain rims. Their surfaces had been coloured black or red and some pots had been burnished. This pottery is related to Amuq A and B dark-faced burnished ware although the fabric is a little different from most of the vessels at Tell Judaidah.

The settlement at Tell Sheikh XII is stratified beneath the earliest Halaf deposit of Level XI. Since the affinities of the material remains are with Amuq A and B this settlement was occupied in Neolithic 3. The pottery and flints are more closely related to Amuq B at Tell Judaidah which suggests that Tell Sheikh was not occupied until fairly late in Neolithic 3.

The Amanus Mountains mark the western limit of the North Syrian group of Neolithic 3 sites. Beyond the mountains lies the Cilician plain, a region which, like the Amuq, is clearly defined geographicaly and rich in visible remains of ancient sites. Neolithic settlements have been revealed in excavations at the base of two of these, Mersin and Tarsus. It used to be thought that these sites were closely related to contemporary settlements in the Amuq and at Ras Shamra. Archaeologists joined them together with the North Syrian sites I have discussed in a Syro-Cilician group (See Page 74 in *3 Below). The excavations which have taken place on the Konya Plain since 1961 have set the Cilician sites in a new perspective. It can now be seen that while culturally they share certain features with the North Syrian settlements they have much in common with the Anatolian sites of Catal Huyuk East and West and Can Hasan situated on the northern side of the Taurus, a link which Mellaart has recently emphasised (See Page 125 in *4 Below) .....


*1 A Forgotten Kingdom by C. Wooley (1953)
Library of Congress # DS 156 A47 W6

*2 Tell Atchana by C. Wooley
(1950) Volume 54 [Pages 64 - 65]
in American Journal of Archeology

*3 The Earliest Village Materials of Syro-Cilicia
R. Braidwood Volume 21 [Pages 72 - 76]
(1955) Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Library of Congress # DA 670 E13 P8

*4 The Neolithic of the Near East (1975)
J. Mallaart [GN 776.32 N4 M44]

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium