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Chapter 5: TIMESPAN OF NEOLITHIC 3 (Pages 383-385)

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We know that the change from Neolithic 2 to Neolithic 3 happened about 6000 BC on sites in the North and South Syrian groups. The chief indicator of this change was the spread of pottery which took place so rapidly. Although I believe we can now distinguish some continuity of settlement in Palestine from Neolithic 2 most Nelithic 3 settlements there were not founded until much later, perhaps after 5500 BC on the carbon 14 chronology.

The end of Neolithic 3 in north Syria was marked by imports of Halaf pottery from sites east of the Euphrates, pottery made locally in the Halaf style and certain other changes in material culture. The date of this change is difficult to determine precisely since there are few carbon 14 dates from sites occupied in the late 6th and early 5th millennia. The date of 5620 +/- 35 BC GrN-2660 from an early Halaf level at Tell Halaf itself would, if correct, indicate that the Halaf culture crystallized very early in its heartland. There are dates from Arpachiyah of 5077 +/- 83 BC P-584 for level TT8 and 6114 +/- 78 BC P-585 for the more recent level TT6. The chronology indicated by these determinations is the reverse of their stratigraphic position and both are widely seperated in time so they can only give a very general indication of the period when the site was occupied. Nevertheless they are in the same time range as the determination from Tell Halaf. These three determinations suggest that the change from Neolithic 3 to Halaf on sites east of the Euphrates and in Assyria where Halaf developed took place well before 5000 BC, perhaps about 5500 BC.

Neolithic 3 continued longer in north-west Syria since the influence of Halaf was not felt in this region until several centuries after it had been further east. The C-14 date of 5234 +/- 84 BC P-457 for Ras Shamra V A indicates that this could not have taken place until near the end of the 6th millennum. It seems probable that Neolithic 3 was subsumed within Halaf in north Syria about 5000 BC or a century or so earlier.

The change from Neolithic 3 to Neolithic 4 in south Syria took place a little later. I have already indicated that I believe this could have happened about 5000 or 4800 BC at Byblos. There are three dates ranging from 4920 +/- 130 BC K-1432 to 4840 +/- 130 BC K-1434 from a phase of occupation early in Neolithic 4 at the site of Ard Tlaili in the Bekaa so the transition must have already occurred by this time there. There can hardly have been much difference between the timing of this change at Byblos and on sites in the Bekaa so I would suggest that it took place about 5000 BC or perhaps a century later on sites in the South Syrian group. The transition from Neolithic 3 to Neolithic 4 in Palestine probably occurred slightly later still given the tendency for cultural changes in the 6th and 5th millennia to occur here a little after there development further north. 4800 BC might be a reasonable estimate for the date of this transition in Palestine ...

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