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Chapter 6: Neolithic 4 Muktara (Pages 427-428)

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The village of Muktara is about 5 liometres south-east of Beit Din an doverlooks the valley of Nahr Baruk high in the mountains of Lebanon below Jebel Baruk. The site lies on a series of terraces below the village at an elevation of about 900 metres. Cauvin excavated it in 1961 and has presented the results in two publication.

The site had been cultivated for a long time and consequently nothing remained undisturbed. The ecavations yielded a collection of flint tools, waste, some bone tools, a few badly-weathered potsherds, one of which was incised, and a basalt hoe as well as a few other stone tools. 14.8% of the 406 retouched tools were arrowheads. Most of these were tanged Byblos points but there were also Amuq points and a notched arrowhead with pressure-flaked retouch. Cauvin included two large bifacially retouched oval points in this category but called them daggers; they may have been used to arm arrows or spears but might have been used as knives instead. A further 11% of the retouched tools consisted of sickle blades. Thee were all segmented and some were retouched by pressure-flaking. The cutting edges had fine or coarse denticulation and most were backed. Burins were almost as numerous as the sickle blades (10.8%) while much of the remainder of the tools consisted of notched or denticulated pieces.

The heavy tools such as axes and chisels were present in small quantities at Muktara, the two categories comprising 6% of the retouched pieces. The axes were quite varied nonetheless since the assemblage included almond-shaped, oval, round, and trapezoidal ones. In addition to these tools there were a few borers, end and side-scrapers and knives.

The typology of the main classes of flint tools at Muktara resembles that of the Byblos Neolithique Moyen assemblage quite closely so the two sites were occupied contemporaneously. The proportions of the tools in the Muktara assemblage differ quite markedly from those of Byblos and other Neolithique Moyen sites discussed so far. Perhaps the most surprising aspect is the low percentage of working tools at Muktara since the neighbourhood of this site would have been quite as heavily forested as that of the sites at lower elevations near the coast. The high percentage of arrowheads found in the excavations may indicate that hunting contributed more to the food suply than on other sites. The presence of a hoe, a stone spindle whorl and perhaps the sickle blades suggest that the economy of the site was based upon agriculture and herding, both of which could have been practised in the environs of the site despite its elevaton. The valley slopes in this region are quite steep so that herding may have played a larger part in the economy than on the coastal sites. Indeed it is likely that Muktara was a seasonal settlement occupied only during the summer when flocks and herds were pastured here and a few crops grown in the vicinity ...

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