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Chapter 5: Neolithic 3 Judaidah Jabbul (Pages 324-328)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

The mound of Judaidah Jabbul is situated east of Aleppo and a little south of the present road to Meskene and the Euphrates valley. It lies on the left bank of the Wadi Dahab where it joins the old north shore of the Jabbul salt lake. The site is a long mound about 12 metres high with gentle contours except on the west side where the wadi has washed away some of the deposit. The site extends south under the present village of Judaidah and rises again beyond to form a subsidiary mound. The two mounds were distinguished as separate sites in the original survey (See Page 34 in *1 Below). Much of the painted pottery to be seen on the surface today is of Halaf or Ubaid type as was noted by Maxwell Hyslop and her collaborators. There are also sherds of grey - black and red burnished wares - much coarse buff straw-tempered ware and buff pottery painted simply with red lines. None of these sherds is sufficiently diagnostic to indicate that the site was occupied in the Neolithic for all these wares continued to be used into Halaf times. The flint artifacts decide the matter since there are many blade tools; among them sickle blades with little or no backing and tanged arrowheads finished by both abrupt retouch and pressure-flaking. These tools are similar to those in the ceramic Neolithic levels at Abu Hureyra as is some of the pottery. The pottery and flints are also similar to material found in Amuq A and B so we may conclude from these surface indications that Judaidah Jabbul was occupied at least as early as Neolithic 3 and that it belongs within the North Syrian group of sites.

Archaeologists have thought that several sites situated on the Euphrates or beyond in the northern Jazirah were occupied in Neolithic 3. The question is important since these sites would lie on the northern and eastern limits of the North Syrian group. Unfortunately there is insufficient evidence from several of the sites concerned for us to be certain they were occupied in Neolithic 3. I will now attempt to reconstruct the pattern of settlement in this area by briefly reviewing the information we have about these sites.

The westernmost site is Carchemish situated on the right bank of the Euphrates at the point where it flows across the Syro-Turkish frontier. A deep cut was excavated on the east side of the citadel mound facing the river (See Page 158ff in *2 Below). Some dark burnished and incised sherds were found here at the bottom of the cut but always in association with painted pottery of Halaf type. The earliest deposits for which we have evidence in the Carchemish citadel are therefore Halaf although it remains possible that a Neolithic 3 settlement may lie within the heart of the mound. Much brown - grey - black and red burnished pottery - some of it with incised decorations - was also found in the Yunus Kilns just outside the walls of Carchemish but it had been made at the same time as painted Halaf pottery and was associated with Halaf flint tools (See Page 149 and 154 ibid). There is no reason to suppose that the kilns were used in Neolithic 3 despite the resemblance of the burnished pottery to Neolithic 3 wares.

One site in the Balikh Valley - Tell Aswad - was certainly occupied in Neolithic 3. There were three kinds of pottery at the site; a brown or red burnished ware - a coarse buff ware with much straw temper and a little red painted ware. These can be paralleled in the ceramic Neolithic levels at Abu Hureyra and Bouqras III as we have noted in the preceding chapter. They also bear a general resemblance to much of the pottery found in Ras Shamra V B and V A.

It is possible that the site of Tell Khirbet Bassal discovered by Cauvin was also occupied in Neolithic 3. We have seen that it was probably occupied in Neolithic 2 as well as the Halaf but the presence of brown burnished sherds suggests that the site may also have been inhabited during the intervening stage of Neolithic 3.

One other site on the Balikh - Tell Hammam - may have been inhabited during Neolithic 3. This mound is situated 3.5 kilometres south of Tell Abyad (See Page 136 in *3); the upper levels date from the Bronze Age and Classical times but the heart of the tell is much older. A few sherds described as pre-Ubaid were found here and also a collection of flint tools with an obsidian blade (Figure 13: 1-8 ibid). Two of these artifacts were tanged arrowheads and at least one other was an end-scraper on a flake. The arrowheads are the most diagnostic of the tools: the tang of one was retouched abruptly and the other with pressure-flaking. Neither arrowhead was retouched very extensively. These two are typical of the later aceramic and ceramic Neolithic levels at Abu Hureyra and so probably belong in a late Neolithic 2 or early Neolithic 3 context. In view of the presence of early pottery at Tell Hammam the likelihood is that the flints were of the same age or not much earlier than the sherds so that the site may have been inhabited in Neolithic 3.

We know that Tell Aswad (Balikh) was occupied in Neolithic 3 even if we cannot be certain that the other sites I have mentioned were inhabited contemporaneously. The material from Tell Aswad (Balikh) places it firmly within the North Syrian group so that we know the Balikh Valley should be included in this zone of sites with similar remains. Tell Ha1af which lies on a tributary of the upper Khabur 3 kilometres southwest of Ras Ain was also probably occupied in Neolithic 3. Von Oppenheim dug several deep trenches on the northern side of the mound which revealed something of the prehistoric remains at the heart of the site. Beneath levels containing Halaf material he found deposits characterized by plain or burnished dark brown - grey and black pottery. Many of the vessels were globular or flat-based hole-mouth jars with ledge handles or lugs for lifting. There were also splayed bowls with ring bases. This pottery was accompanied by a range of flint and obsidian tools which included tanged arrowheads - end-scrapers on blades and borers. These artifacts and their stratigraphic position would suggest that Tell Halaf was occupied in Neolithic 3 though we cannot be sure of the cultural relationships of these early levels without further exploration. Braidwood collected a sample from the lowest Halaf deposit at Tell Halaf - imediately above the Neolithic 3 levels - which gave a date of 5620 35 B.C. GrN-2660 (See Page 355:6:1964 in *4 Below). If correct this would indicate that the Neolithic 3 settlement was occupied in the first half of the 6th millennium.

We do not know how much further east and north the North Syrian group of sites extended because few of the earliest settlements on the Khabur and Jaghjagha rivers have been investigated. Chagar Bazar - 43 kilometres north-northeast of Hassake on the road to Amuda - may have been first settled in Neolithic 3 but the evidence is inconclusive. Mallowan sounded the earliest deposits in a deep trench at the northwest end of the site (See Page 7 in *5 Below). He found that the lowest level - level 15 - rested on the virgin soil (See Page 11 ibid). No buildings could be discerned in this level but two pits - presumably dug down from a higher level - contained Samarran pottery (See Page 17 ibid). Within level 1-5 there were sherds of both painted Halaf and grey or black burnished ware. The burnished sherds were found together in a cache (See Page 11 ibid) which suggests that they had been deposited separately from the Halaf pottery and so may have come from an earlier settlement perhaps Neolithic 3 in date. More substantial remains of such a settlement may lie beneath the centre of the site which was not tested in a deep sounding.

Some of the burnished pottery from level 15 had been decorated with incised designs (See Page 12 ibid) in a similar manner to vessels from Ras Shamra V B and V A although one sherd (See Plate III and Page 10 ibid) had rows of incised cross-hatched triangles reminiscent of vessels from Sakcagozu. Another sherd had been pattern burnished (See Page 12 ibid). The affinities of this material are mostly with sites in the North Syrian group but the sherds would not be out of place in a Halaf context so we cannot be sure that there was a Neolithic 3 settlement at Chagar Bazar.

Davidson carried out a survey of early sites in the northern Jazirah in 1974 (See Page 45ff in *6 Below) but the earliest sites he discovered were all of Halaf type. He has told me that he found no certain traces of Neolithic 3 settlement in the area. This does not necessarily mean that the region was uninhabited then; an unlikely hypothesis I would think since so much of North Syria further west but in the same latitude was settled in Neolithic 3. There is a great density of tells in this area indicating its suitability for settlement in ancient times and remains of Neolithic 3 sites may be concealed within these mounds. There appears to have been some soil movement which has raised the level of parts of the north Jazirah plain since the lower deposits on several sites are below the present ground surface. This process may have buried other Neolithic 3 settlements. Only when definite indications of Neolithic 3 occupation have been found in excavation on the Khabur and Jaghjagha headwaters will we know if the area was occupied by people using similar equipment to those on North Syrian sites further west and along the Euphrates.

I have now discussed all the known Neolithic 3 sites that belong within the North Syrian group. There is another series of Neolithic 3 sites in southern Syria and Lebanon which I shall call the South Syrian group. The material remains on these sites are more varied than in the North Syrian group so that one may distinguish sub-groups on the Lebanese coast - in the Bekaa Valley and in the Damascus basin. The type-site for the whole area is Byblos which I shall describe first .....

*1 An Archaeological Survey of the Plain of Jabbul
Maxwell Hyslop et al [Pages 8 - 40]
Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1942)
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 Q57

*2 The PreHistoric Pottery of Carchemish
C. Woolley (1934) Voume 1 [Pages 146 - 162]
Iraq: Library of Congress # DS 78 A2 I7

*3 Excavations in the Balikh Valley (1946)
M. Mallowan Volume 8 [Pages 111-159]
Iraq: Library of Congress # DS 78 A2 I7

*4 Radiocarbon: American Journal of Science Supplement
Library of Congress # QC 798 D3 A48

*5 Excavations at Tell Chagar Bazar and an
Archaeological Survey of the Khabur Region

M. Mallowan (1936) Volume 3 [Pages 1 - 59]
Iraq: Library of Congress # DS 78 A2 I7

*6 Pottery Analysis and Halaf Period
Trade in the Khabur Headwaters Region

T. Davidson and H. McKerrell
(1976) Volume 38 [Pages 45 - 56]
Iraq: Library of Congress # DS 78 A2 I7

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