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Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)

Chapter 6: Neolithic 4: (Pages 436-442)


The remaining Bekaa sites thought to be contemporary with Neolithique Moyen Byblos and Tell Ard Tlaili merit only a brief description. Tell Nebaa Litani is about 9 kilometres west of Baalbek at the source of the Litani River. The only flint tools found here were some steep scrapers and a segmented sickle blade. The pottery was quite varied since it included burnished and incised sherds as well as others with red slip. There were also a few painted sherds with a lattice pattern. All this material is believed to resemble Neolithique Moyen Byblos and Tell Ard Tlaili so dating the site to Neolithic 4 though it was also occupied in the Bronze Age.

Tell Ain Saouda lies 2 kilometres south of Tell Nebaa Litania beside two springs and near the Litani River. The flints from this site consisted of a number of nibbled or finely-denticulated segmented sickle blades, flake scrapers, tanged arrowheads and an axe with sliced sides. Fragments of obsidian were also found here. The sherds came from flat-bottomed jars with collared necks or flared rims, globular hole-mouth jars and bowls either with flared sides or hemispherical in shape. Many of these vessels were burnished and some had incised decoration. Others had a red slip or were painted. This material resembles that from Tell Ain Nfaikh and other neighbouring Bekaa sites which I have mentioned indicating that the site was occupied during Neolithic 4. It was also inhabited during the Bronze Age and as late as Classical times.

Tell Ain Ghessali is just to the east of Tell Ain Nfaikh halfway between Rayak and Baalbek. A surface collection from here included several flint scrapers, an axe and a segmented sickle blade as well as sherds of burnished pottery. This material was thought to possibly indicate Neolithic 4 occupation and Copeland has since linked the site with neighbouring tells which were contemporary with Neolithique Moyen Byblos. The tell was also occupied during the Bronze Age.

The earliest Neolithic occupation at Tell Hashbai not far from Tell Ain Nfaikh was during Neolithic 3 as we saw in the last chapter. Some of the flint tools and pottery, particularly some of the incised, red-slipped and burnished pottery, resembled that of Byblos Neolithique Moyen and neighbouring contemporary sites in the Bekaa so the settlement continued to be occupied well into Neolithic 4.

A little south of Tell Hashbai and 9 kilometres north-north-east of Rayak lies Tell Hoch Rafqa. This site is also near the Litani River and belongs to this large group of sites in the central Bekaa. The flints collected from the surface of the site consisted of scrapers and segmented sickle blades while some scrapers of obsidian were also found. The potsherds included several rims which have been coloured black or red and burnished. These finds match those from the nearby sites I have already mentioned so it is thought that Tell Hoch Rafqa was also inhabited for much of Neolithic 4 as well as in later periods.

Tell Nahariyah is 2.7 kilometres north-north-east of Rayak on the left bank of the Litani. The bulk of the tell consists of the remains of the Neolithic settlement although the site was probably also occupied in the Bronze Age. A surface collection from the site consisted of flint tools, obsidian fragments, basalt tools and pottery. Among the flints were finely-denticulated segmented sickle blades and many steep scrapers. At least two wares were represented among the Neolithic potsherds. One was a plain coarse ware and the surface of these sherds had been wiped with grass or cloth. The other consisted for the most part of thinner walled vessels with a burnished surface; some of these were coloured with a red slip. The affinities of these flints and sherds are once again with Ard Tlaili and the other Bekaa sites I have mentioned, indicating that the site was occupied for much of Neolithic 4.

Tell Shamsine on the other side of the Bekaa near Anjar was probably first settled in Neolithic 3 as we have already seen. Some of the burnished pottery and flints from here were more akin to those of neighbouring Neolithic 4 sites so it would appear that the site continued to be inhabited well into the next phase.

Another site in this group of settlements is Mejdel Anjar II. The site is 2 kilometres north of the village of Mejdel Anjar near the road from Beirut to Damascus. There is considerable accumulation of deposit here, most of which appears to be Neolithic since only the uppermost levels seem to date from later levels. The Neolithic surface finds from this site consisted of flints, potsherds and part of a hemispherical stone bowl. The flints were more numerous and varied than on other sites, partly because the tell was disturbed. Among the tools were nibbled and finely-denticulated segmented sickle blades, end-scrapers, burins, borers, picks and trapezoidal axes. Both fine and coarse pottery was found and the fine ware included sherds with red slip and burnish as well as an incised sherd. The flints and pottery resemble both the material from Ard Tlaili and Byblos Neolithique Moyen and Recent so Mejdel Anjar II was occupied for much of Neolithic 4.

The last tell of this group in the central Bekaa is Tell Deir about halfway between Chtaura and Jub Jannine. Many Neolithic flint tools were found here, the most numerous of which were large scrapers, knives, picks, axes and adzes. There were also some denticulated segmented sickle blades and burins. The only diagnostic Neolithic potsherds were finished with red slip and burnish. Both the flint tools and these potsherds resemble Neolithic 4 material from the tells in the same area so the site was certainly occupied in this phase as well as later in the Bronze Age.

Sites of this phase in the south Bekaa were smaller with little depth of deposit, probably because the broken country in this region was less suitable for long-lived villages deriving their substinence from agriculture. Bab Sghrir, 3 kilometres south-east of Kefraya near the road to Jub Jannine, is one such small surface station. Only flints were found on the surface here. These consisted of several oval, cordiform and other axes, chisels, scrapers and borers which are believed to be similar typologically to material from Neolithique Moyen Byblos. It would thus appear that the site was used early in Neolithic 4.

Tahun ben Aissa is 3.5 kilometres west-south-west of Jub Jannine on the left bank of the Litani. Some flints were found here which consisted for the most part of large cutting tools such as rectangular, trapezoidal and oval axes. A few scrapers, finely-denticulated segmented sickle blades and a pressire-flaked oval arrowhead were also found here. The Cauvins believe that the site was contemporary with Neolithique Moyen Byblos.

Similar flints have been found at Dahr Ahmar 500 metres north of the village of the same name and 3 kilometres north of Rakaya among hills on the east side of the Bekaa. West of Rakaya Kaukaba too has yielded enough material of this phase to show that it was inhabited for at least part of Neolithic 4 as well as in Neolithic 3. Among the more interesting finds from this site attributed to Neolithic 4 was a series of flint picks. The points of these were very heavily worn as if used for particularly heavy work. Two fragments of basalt hoes were also found at Kaukaba and Cauvin thinks that the picks were used to drill a hole through each hoe for a handle.

Khallet Khazen III is 13 kilometres south of Jezzine on a ridge west of the hamlet of Khallet Khazen. This locality is in hilly country west of the Litani before it makes its turn west to the Mediteranean. A number of flints have been found on this station, among them segmented sickle blades, an axe, chisels and scrapers. These have been likened to Neolithique Moyen material from Byblos with which it seems the site was contemporary. Khallet Khazen IV is several hundred metres west of site III at a higher elevation. A greater variety of tools has been found here which include a tanged arrowhead, almond-shaped and other axes, an adze, choppers and burins. Several of these tools are similar to those from Muktara indicating that this station also was used early in Neolithic 4.

All the Bekaa sites I have discussed so far, both the tell settlements and small open stations, were probably occupied early in Neolithic 4 while some of them continued to be occupied into the later centuries of this phase. There are some other Bekaa sites whose material remains may best be compared with Byblos Neolithique Recent which seems to have been occupied only late in Neolithic 4. One site, Tell Jisr, is better known than the others so I shall describe it first. The mound lies 1.5 kilometres north-west of Jub Jannine on the right bank of the Litani at a probable ancient river crossing. Much pottery and flint, now in the Universite Saint-Joseph, was collected from a section cut by the road which passes the mound. Many of the flint tools were large, particularly several choppers, long trapezoidal axes and adzes and some end and side-scrapers. The other scrapers were quite small while the segmented sickle blades had nibbled or finely-denticulated cutting edges. Some pieces of obsidian were found in the section and also fragments of a basalt bowl and other stone vessels.

The pottery consisted of fine and coarse wares. The fabrics were tempered with straw and grit which was often white and quite coarse. All were finished by hand while the surface of some coarse sherds was wiped with straw. Some coarse vessels were burnished, others not. Hole-mouth jars, globular ones with upright rims, collared jars and others with bow rims were all made while some of the finer sherds came from bowls with incised designs, red wash or slip and a few even with cream slip.

This material has much in common with Neolithique Recent at Byblos and even, as we shall see, with later Neolithic 4 in Palestine. The settlement certainly flourished in this phase and was also occupied during the Bronze Age.

The most northerly Bekka site which was probably first occupied in this later stage of Neolithic 4 is Tell Saoudhi. This small tell lies about 2 kilometres south-west of Rayak. A little burnished pottery and some flints were found here which have been compared with Neolithique Recent Byblos.

Amuq I lies 14 kilometres south-west of Chtaura on rocky slopes at the west side of the Bekaa below Jebel Baruk. Flint tools, basalt querns and other fragments were found here but no pottery. The flints consisted of segmented sickle blades, an arrowhead and numerous axes, adzes and chisels as well as blunted picks. Two of the basalt fragments had been bored through and the picks are thought to have been used to drill holes in these and other basalt artifacts. All this material is thought on typological grounds to date from late in Neolithic 4.

Further south-west along the foot of Jebel Baruk is Ain Jaouze. The site is on the west side of the road from Chtaura to Machgara and Jezzine overlooking the new Karaoun Lake. Bergy collected flints from the surface of this station which are said to be similar to those of Byblos Neolithique Recent.

Ard Saouda is among the hills on the east side of the Bekaa 6 kilometres west of Rakaya. The site is situated on a basalt flow and near a flint source which has been used since the Lower Palaeolithic. The Neolithic material from this site consisted entirely of flints. Tools were quite numerous while cores and waste were relatively scarce suggesting that the site was a settlement rather than purely a factory site. Axes and adzes were plentiful and chisels were also present. Heavily-worn picks were particularly numerous while scrapers, burins, borers and segmented sickle blades were relatively rare. Cauvin believes that the picks found at Ard Saouda were used to drill holes in basalt artifacts although no worked basalt pieces of this kind have been found on the site. On the evidence of the typology of the flints the site is thought to have been occupied late in Neolithic 4.

Beidar Chamout is just below the Karaoun dam on the right bank of the Litani River. Flints of several periods have been found here some of which were Neolithic. These tools were predominantly adzes although there were also chisels, scrapers and other artifacts; some were particularly robust pieces. The Neolithic flints are believed to date from the latter part of Neolithic 4.

Kfar Giladi at the head of the upper Jordan valley was probably also occupied in Neolithic 4. Stratified above the two "Neolithic" layers which I have ascribed to Neolithic 3 was another deposit which Kaplan designated "Chalcolithic". This mixed deposit contained some pottery akin to that which he found at Wadi Rabah as well as other sherds of Ghassulian type. Much of Kaplan's Wadi Rabah pottery was coverd with red wash or slip and then burnished so was therefore quite similar to that found on some Bekaa sites late in Neolithic 4. Thus it seems that Kfar Giladi was also occupied briefly in this phase.

The distribution of settlements in the Bekaa during the last centuries of Neolithic 4 was similar to that of the earliest part of this phase. The two tells, Tell Jisr and Tell Saoudhi, were both in the central Bekaa while all sites further south were surface stations inhabited by quite small groups ...

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