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Neolithic Tell Ramad

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

Tell Ramad is one of the small and select group of sites that have fundamentally shaped our knowledge of Near Eastern prehistory and particularly the beginnings of agriculture and the Neolithic Period in general (See *3 Below). The site was excavated during eight field seasons between 1963 and 1973 (*1).

The stratigraphy of Ramad includes three major layers --- Niveau I-II-II. The basal layer or Niveau I has a number of basins excavated into the underlying bedrock. Subsequent architecture in this Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) layer includes mud/clay walls - hearths - ovens and silos. During the period represented by PPN Niveau II dwellings are constructed with a mudbrick foundation surmounted by rock walls. Plaster is applied to walls - floors - human skulls and also is used to make white wares. Niveau III has been largely removed from Ramad through erosion; only a few large pits filled with ashes remain of this Pottery Neolithic Phase.

Burial customs from the PPN layers are within the repertoire characteristic of the greater Levant during this period. De Contenson advances the hypothesis that burial rites are likely associated with a domestic agricultural cult that was geared toward family cohesion rather than an ancestor cult per se.

Ramad provides key evidence on (1)vaisselles blanches or white ware (2)early pottery and (3)clay figurines. There is also evidence for the introduction of plant-tempered pottery alongside white ware. The site is also helping in understanding the association between dark burnished wares of the southern Levant and the dark-faced burnished wares of the Amuq Valley region.

The chipped stone industry includes (1)projectile points (2)sickle blades (3)scrapers (4)axes (5)adzes and other bifaces - borers and burins (See ibid). The Niveau I and II assemblages correspond to the recent phase of the PPNB (circa 8200-7800) and are mainly of flint with a small representation of obsidian from Cappadocia and the East Taurus.

The plant food remains are well represented with large quantities of seeds - fruits and other identifiable plant parts. Cereals include hulled varieties of domestic emmer and einkorn wheat as well as (1)free-threshing hard wheat (2)bread wheat (3)two-rowed hulled barley (4)free-threshing barley and (5)wild barley. Emmer wheat is the most important as well as being characteristic of the Damascus Basin sites in general; it is thought to have benn introduced. Wild plant foods include (1)grass seeds (2)pistachio (3)almond (4)hawthorne (5)figs and (6)wild pear.

Major faunal species from Niveau I and II are in descending order of frequency (1)sheep (2)goat (3)cattle and suids (4)gazelle and (5)equids. Sheep in particular become increasingly important in the Damascus Basin through time at the expense of various wild species. The domestication of suids and goats can be documented in their diminishing size through time at sites in the Damascus Basin.

Selected Excerpts on Tell Ramad

Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Tell Ramad (Pages 192-198)

Chapter 5: Neolithic 3 Tell Ramad (Page 357-359)

Chapter 6: Neolithic 4 Tell Ramad (Pages 450-451)

Book and Reviews

(A) Ramad: site Néolithique en Damascène (Syrie) aux
VIIIe et VIIe millénaires avant l'ère Chrétienne

Henri De Contenson et al (2000) ISBN 2-912738-06-7

(*1) Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
Deborah Olszewski in Number 326 (May 2002)
Library of Congress # DS 56 A52

(*2) ANTIQUITY (September 2003) by E.B. Banning
Library of Congress # CC 1 A7

(*3) American Journal of Archaeology by Stuart Campbell
Volume 106 # 4 October 2002 (Page 606/100 PDF)
Library of Congress # CC 1 A6

Journal Articles

(*4) Apercu preliminaire sur le village neolithique de Tell Ramad (Syrie)
Henri de Contenson in Bulletin de la Societe prehistorique francaise
Volume 63:9 / Pages 294-6 (1966) [LC # GN 700 S573a]

(*5) Le mobilier archeologique du village neolithique de Ramad (Syrie)
Henri de Contenson in Bulletin de la Societe prehistorique francaise
Volume 65:7 / Pages 167-9 (1968) [LC # GN 700 S573a]

(*6) Tell Ramad: village syrien des VIIe et VIe millenaires
Henri de Contenson in Archaeologia Volume 33 (Pages 69-73)
Library of Congress # DA 20 A64 (1970)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium