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Chapter 5: Neolithic 3 Sakcagozu (Pages 320-322)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

The Rift Valley extends northward from the Amuq Plain as far as Maras where it ends. Some 90 kilometres up the valley from the Amuq there is a marshy area which forms the watershed between the Karasu and Aksu rivers. The mounds at Sakcagozu are to be found a little to the east of this section of the Rift Valley. The principal excavations conducted at the site were carried out by Garstang in 1908 and 1911. He dug two soundings, A and Z, in the north-east slope of the mound of Jobba Huyuk and discovered at the bottom traces of a prehistoric settlement (See Page 121ff in *1 Below). This was founded on the natural subsoil and its remains comprised the three lowest strata 11 to 13, designated Period I (See Page 128 ibid). Period I was stratified beneath the remains of Period II in which Halaf material was found. Further excavations were carried out at the site in 1949 in which Period I levels were reached in the southeast sector of the mound (See Page 55 in *2 Below).

The structures of Period I consisted of hearths, small sub-circular chambers built partly of stone and traces of a lime plaster-floor (See Pages 121 and 127 in *1 Below). The published section and plan also show rectilinear structures at the bottom of sounding Z which belonged to Period I (See Plate XXII ibid). Several pits and ditches but no buildings were found at the bottom of the trench in the south-east sector (See Page 74 in *2 Beloq). We do not know enough about these pits and structures to deduce their function but the buildings are not inconsistent in shape with those on con temporary sites further south.

Both obsidian and flint artifacts were found but in small quantities only (See Page 133 in *1 Below). The flints were mostly flakes from which it is not possible to make comparisons with material from other sites but a great deal of pottery was recovered in Period I which does permit one to draw conclusions about its affinities. Of the three wares which could be distinguished the most abundant was a well-fired grey gritty ware with a grey or black burnished surface (See Page 132ff ibid) . Some of this pottery carried incised patterns of chevrons, cross-hatching or dashes usually near the rim. The incised patterns on certain vessels had been filled with white clay. Other vessels had been pattern burnished in zig-zag or lattice patterns. The second ware which was much less common had a buff or brown fabric and was decorated with lines of red or black paint. The third was a plain coarse ware of variable colour. The vessels in this group were usually made in the simplest shapes with thick walls. The shapes of the other vessels were a little more varied. There were globular jars with hole-mouth or everted rims and also collared jars. Many of the dark burnished and incised vessels were dishes or bowls with flat bases, splayed straight sides and a plain rim.

The painted and plain wares at Sakcagozu are somwhat similar to the washed impressed ware and coarse simple ware at Tell Judaidah for example or the painted and coarse wares at Ras Shamra. The grey or black burnished ware, while sharing certain general traits of colour and finish, is different from that found on more southerly sites. The flat-bottomed dishes with splayed sides typical of Sakcagozu occur rarely if at all further south while the distinctive carinated bowls found at Ras Shamra, in the Amuq and, as we shall see, Tell Ramad, are not known on the northern sites. Some of the incised patterns with their white filling are characteristic of Sakcagozu, the bands of decoration forming a cross on the bottom of some dishes for example (See Plate XXIV ibid), but are not found on the southern sites. Period I at Sakcagozu has for long been linked with Tell Judaidah, Ras Shamra and other sites over a wide area stretching from Cilicia through north Syria into Mesopotamia because it was thought that all shared a common pottery tradition typified by dark burnished wares and other general cultural characteristics (See Page 35ff in *3 and Page 502 and 506 in *4 and Pages 225 and 231 in *5 Below). I do not think that this view can be maintained any longer. Enough sites have been excavated now for us to determine regional cultural variations and so subdivide the older broader groupings. Period I at Sakcagozu is characterised by dark burnished pottery vessels of simple shapes and the deposits are stratified beneath Halaf levels. This is sufficient to indicate its contemporaneity with Neolithic 3 in the Levant. On the evidence of the pattern burnished pots one could even equate it with Amuq B and Ras Shamra V A, that is quite late in Neolithic 3. Yet, as we have seen, while Sakcagozu has certain general cultural traits and a few detailed ones in common with those sites the differences are still quite marked. For that reason I do not think Sakcagozu can properly be included within the North Syrian group of Neolithic 3 sites even though it has much in common with them. It is best thought of as a site at the border of the North Syrian group which has certain features more typical of the region beyond .....


*1 Third Report on the Excavations at Sakje-Geuzi
J. Garstang et al Volume 24 [Pages 119 - 140]
Liverpool Annual Archaeology and Anthropology

*2 The Excavations at Sakce-Gozu (1950)
J. Taylor et al Volume 12 [Pages 53 - 138]
Iraq: Library of Congress # DS 78 A2 I7

*3 Neolithic Burnished Wares in the Near East
Seton Williams (1948) Volume 10 [Pages 34 - 50]
Iraq: Library of Congress # DS 78 A2 I7

*4 Excavations in the Plain of Antioch (1960)
R. Braidwood and L. Braidwood [Volume 61]
Oriental Institute Publications Catalog

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

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium