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Chapter 3: Neolithic 1 Nacharini (Page 117-119)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

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Few sites with occupation immediately post-dating the Mesolithic have yet been found in the Levant north of Palestine. Only one is known in Lebanon, Nacharini, a cave site in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains north-east of Baalbek. This site lies high on the side of a small valley at an elevation of about 2000 metres. Its position today is remote from any settlement but it lies near one of the tracks across the mountains from Baalbek to Yabrud. The area around the site is snow-covered during the winter rendering the site uninhabitable at this season.

Nacharini is being excavated by H. B. Schroeder who has dug one sounding to bedrock through the deposit in the cave. The sequence of occupation extended from the Paleolithic to the aceramic Neolithic and it appears that the site was used intermittently throughout this long period. There was one Mesolithic 2 level which had a rich chipped stone assemblage indicating quite intensive occupation. The assemblage included many microliths of which lunates were the dominant type. There was one other tool type which was quite distinctive although of unknown function, a short blade segment retouched at both ends frequently with a concave truncation. This type was very numerous at Nacharini but was unknown at other contemporary sites.

Immediately above this layer was another with an industry of small tools of somewhat similar characteristics. There were fewer microliths now but still many of the distinctive truncated bladelets. An innovation was a point on a thin blade; this had a pair of side notches and a straight or concave truncated base. These notched points were like Khiamian points, the only difference being that the Nacharini examples were usually longer and narrower than the Palestinian type.

This assemblage at Nacharini cannot be matched excatly anywhere else and one suspects that its unique specialised nature has much to do with the unusual position of the site. Nevertheless there are several obsrevations that can be made about the material which allows us to place it in the Levantine sequence. In the first place, it succeeded a Mesolithic 2 industry which in all probability was itself broadly contemporary with the Natufian in Palestine and Mesolithic 2 at Abu Hureyra and Mureybat in northern Syria. Secondly, this assemblage was clearly derived from and owed much to its Mesolithic 2predecessor so there is a strong indication here of cultural continuity. This assemblage would thus appear to be the first post-Mesolithic 2 complex in Lebanon and although it has certain unique features there are parallels for it in Palestine. We have noted there the continued use of microliths, principally lunates, in diminished numbers in the post-Mesolithic 2 industries as at Nacharini while the correspondence between the Nacharini notched point and Khiamian points is so close that it is reasonable to suppose that the Nacharini type was the equivalent of the latter at least in the Anti-Lebanon. It is very probable, therefore that the Nacharini assemblage was contemporary with Neolithic 1 in Palestine even if for the moment we have no C-14 determinations from the site to support this conclusion ...

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