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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Tell Aswad (Pages 190-192)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

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The transition from Phase I to Phase II at Tell Aswad took place about 6900 B.C. or a little later. Aswad II is dated by several determinations - three of them from a series in the west trench: 677O +/- 75 B.C. GrN-6677 - 6700 +/- 55 B.C. GrN-6676 - 6610 110 B.C. GIF-2373 and one from just below the surface of the east trench; 6590 110 B.C. GIF-2369. This is a consistent series of dates which places the second phase of occupation at Tell Aswad firmly in the first half of the 7th millennium B.C. The site appears to have been deserted about 6500 B.C.

The flint industry of Aswad II was based on the production of blades as in Aswad I. Most of these were struck off prismatic and pyramidal cores so they tended to have converging sides; relatively few came from bipolar cores in contrast with the Euphrates sites. The latter are of course for the most part later in date. A wide range of tools was made on these blades; retouched blades or knives being particularly common. Sickle blades were also numerous; these had finely serrated or nibbled cutting edges though some were denticulated. A few had retouch along the back and there were also some segmented sickle blades.

The third most common class of tools in Aswad II was the arrowheads. Most of them were tanged in this phase; the tang being defined by a curved narrowing of the blade rather than a sharp shoulder. Some of these were retouched abruptly but most had pressure-flaked tangs in contrast with the Euphrates sites where most tangs were abruptly retouched. Retouch was confined to the tang and tip on most of the Aswad II arrowheads. Notched arrowheads with a short tang - which had been so common in Aswad I - were still present but in much diminished quantity. The remaining tools consisted of notched and denticulated blades and flakes - burins on blades - borers of various sizes and end-scrapers on blades. Flake tools were relatively scarce but among these a series of quite thick disc scrapers seem to have been characteristic. Some chisels were flaked in flint and a few had polished edges. A number of flaked and polished axes were also made from a variety of stones.

About 1% of the chipped stone artifacts at Tell Aswad were of obsidian. 54 pieces of obsidian - 20% of the total - have been analysed from phases I and II in the west trench as part of the Bradford programme. The analyses suggest that the proportions of obsidian from different sources were about the same in both phases. Three sources were being exploited; Ciftlik (46.3%) - 1g (11.1%) and Nemrut Dag (42.6%). From this one may conclude that central and eastern Anatolian obsidian was being used in about equal amounts even though the Lake Vannic sources are about 200 kilometres further away by land than Ciftlik. One cannot be sure that the obsidian analyses from the west trench are representative of the whole site so it will be necessary to analyse obsidian from the east trench to see if these results are corroborated.

The other artifacts from Aswad II were varied but not very numerous. The bone tools consisted of borers - needles - spatulae and a few hafts. There were also some fragments of polished stone bowls. Articles of adornment were however quite common. They consisted of beads and pendants made in a wide range of materials: limestone - carrelian - steatite - shell - bone - turquoise and even obsidian. The exotic stones in this list - like those at Abu Hureyra - would have been imported from Anatolia - Zagros Mountains and the Sinai Desert.

Baked clay objects were very common throughout the sequence. A number of these were simply lumps or balls of clay and others were shaped like pawns. Many animal figurines were made; often with a marked dorsal ridge and all were modelled with assurance. Some were recognisable as cattle - pigs and small horned ruminants. The remainder were anthropomorphic figurines - mostly of seated women. The figurines were made to appear plump but there was much variation in shape. Some were quite schematic with stump bodies and rod heads and hardly any delineation of the limbs ...

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