HOME / Table of Contents = Civilizations - Cultures - Areas - Regions - Prehistory
Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)

Chapter 6: Neolithic 4 Tell Khazzami (Page 449-450)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums

Tell Khazzami is 25 killometres southeast of Damascus where the new International Airport now stands. This tell was in the semi-arid region at the edge of the Ghuta near the Hijjane Lake and Tell Aswad. When discoverd it was 150 metres in diameter and 2 metres high. De Contenson excavated the tell in 1967 before it was levelled to make way for the new airport.

Four soundings were made in the site which had a single phase of buildings. These consisted of rectilinear structures with doorways made of baked bricks which were all 35 by 25 by 10 centimetres in size. These structures had small cell-like chambers as well as larger rectangular rooms so were not like the houses found on other sites. Some white lime floors were found in the lower levels. The sounding in the middle of the site was excavated through a series of shallow hearths full of ashes in what was probably a courtyard area.

Few flints were in the soundings themselves but these were augmented by a surface collection. The proportion of tools to waste was low. The most numerous type was a segmented sickle blade on a thick blade with a nibbled or finely-denticulated cutting edge. Backed blades which may have been knives or unfinished sickle blades were also relatively common. The other types consisted of borers and scrapers -- some of which were made from tabular flint. Tanged arrowheads and axes were both rare. The paucity of axes reflects the absence of woodland in the environs of the site. Two obsidian bladeletes were found on the surface but none in the soundings. De Contenson points out that the numerous sickle blades may indicate that agriculture was important at the site while the borers and scrapers might have been used for leather working. The few arrowheads found suggest that hunting did not contribute much to the food supply in contrast with earlier sites in the area.

Some basalt mortars and a palette were found on the site. There was also a fenestrated basalt stand or base like some found on Chalcolithic sites in Palestine. Stone sling bullets and beads were present but the only bone tools found were two bone spatulae.

In contrast with the other finds pottery was plentiful. The wares were quite standardised though still hand finished. The principal shapes of vessels were deep bowls -- dishes with flat bases and jars. The latter included simple hole-mouths and also vessels with collared necks or splayed rims. Some of these pots had knobs or strap handles with splayed attachments for lifting. There were also some fragments of strainers. These vessels were coated with a thin red wash or slip. Some had relief decoration of a cordon with indentations.

The closest parallels for the flint tools and pottery are with Byblos Neolithique Recent and Tell Jisr. The uniformity of the pottery -- the extensive use of red wash and the specific type of strap handles are Damascus features. The proportions of the flint tools in the assemblage are also somewhat different than those on Lebanese sites. Arrowheads were scarce as on sites further west but so were axes -- pick drills and other woodworking tools while sickle blades were more common. These differences suggest that woodworking was not much practiced - no doubt because there were few trees in the vicinity -- but that reaping -- probably of cereals -- was important ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium