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PreHistoric Tell Sawwan

ProofRead and Updated June 17th 2019

A 6th millennium BC site of the Samarran Culture on the Tigris River north of Baghdad in Iraq. Five building levels have been excavated at Sawwan and by Level III the settlement was defended by a ditch and wall except on the west where the land fell away steeply to the river. Inside the wall were complex T-shaped buildings with up to 14 rooms each.

The building material was true mudbrick (while contemporary sites further north used pise --- also known locally as tauf). A number of graves -- mostly of infants found beneath buildings of level I -- yielded a large number of ground stone objects including fine female figurines and bowls of alabaster.

The subsistence economy was based on irrigation agriculture (necessary in this arid zone where dry farming could not have been practised): emmer and bread wheat, two varieties of barley and linseed were grown, probably by flood cultivation on the flood plain of the river. Domesticated animals including cattle were kept; a range of wild animals was hunted and fish and freshwater mussels from the river were also eaten. This site, like its contemporary Chogha Mami to the southeast, shows an early development towards more complex forms in architecture, subsistence economy and social organization, presaging the development towards urban civilization that characterized the succeeding two millennia in Mesopotamia ... (AHSFC).

Abu es-Suwwan Briefly Revisited: Additional Notes on a Large Neolithic Site near Jerash in Jordan by Simmons -- Olszewski and Kafafi in the ANNUAL of the DEPARTMENT OF ANTIQUITIES of JORDAN (1988)

Background: Abu Suwwan (Father of Flint) is a large and dense scatter of flint artifacts located in a cultivated field near Jarash in northern Jordan. The site was first reported by Harding in Jerash: A Brief History and some Photographs and was briefly examined by Diane Kirkbride in 1955. She published a short note in 1958 observing that Lower Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic and Neolithic artifacts were present with the latter being especially abundant. Most of the Neolithic artifacts were tentatively dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPNB) phase. Kirkbride also excavated a small sounding at the site to a maximum depth of circa 1.5 metres. She noted the presence of hearths but no other features or architecture were recorded. To the best of our knowledge nothing else on Abu Suwwan has been published since the 1958 note.

Summary: The small collection of tool and debitage elements obtained from the surface of Abu Suwwan during 1987 support Kirkbride's initial assessment of this site as a primary PPNB occupation. Although some of the morphological and technological characteristics of the assemblage fall within both PPNA and PPNB parameters, other features tentatively indicate that the occupation here is late in the PPNB sequence and possibly even continuing into the Pottery Neolithic. This is suggested by the apparent emphasis on blade blanks and the presence of flat invasive retouch on the active edge of sickle blades, which is a retouch form seemingly more common during the later Pottery Neolithic.

Tell Abu Suwwan, A Neolithic Site in Jordan: Preliminary Report on the 2005 and 2006 Field Seasons
by Maysoon al-Nahar (February 2010)

Tell Abu Suwwan is the only Neolithic site excavated north of the Zarqa River in Jordan. Its architectural characteristics and the diagnostic lithic artifacts discovered at the site during the University of Jordan 2005 and 2006 field seasons suggest that the site was occupied continually from the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic Phase B (MPPNB) to the Yarmoukian (Pottery Neolithic) period. The site was divided by the excavator into two areas -- A and B. Area A yielded a few walls, plaster floors and orange clay. Area B yielded a large square or rectangular building with three clear types of plaster floors and an orange clay area. Both Areas A and B include numerous lithics, bones and some small finds. Based on a recent survey outward from the excavated area, the probable size of Abu Suwwan is 10.5 hectares (26 acres) and it contains complex architecture with a long chronological sequence. These attributes suggest that Tell Abu Suwwan is one of the Jordanian Neolithic megasites ...

Figure 6: Area “B” general view from north to south

A Typo-Chronological and Analytical Lithic Study of the Neolithic Period in Jordan.
A Case Study of Tell Abu Suwwan
by Maysoon Al Nahar (2013)

Abstract: Tell Abu Suwwan is one of the Neolithic mega-sites of Jordan, located east of the ruins of Roman Jerash, north of modern Amman. Four seasons of excavation revealed continuous occupation during the MPPNB, LPPNB, PPNC and Yarmoukian periods. These excavations produced enormous numbers of chipped stone artifacts. This study presents the results of a comprehensive analysis of approximately 1500 lithic artifacts and 300 arrowheads recovered from securely dated contexts. This research demonstrates that the defining characteristics of the lithic assemblages found at Tell Abu Suwwan correspond strongly to those of the other major Pre-Pottery Neolithic B and early Pottery Neolithic sites in the southern Levant with the added recognition of some unique tools and tool characteristics.

Introduction: Tell Abu Suwwan is one of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic mega-sites known for their precociously early size and architectural sophistication (Gebel 2004:6; al- Nahar 2009; Simmons 2007; 176-179). Abu Suwwan, measuring 1.5 hectares, lies east of the Roman archaeological site of Jerash in northern Jordan. The site was first recorded by Lancaster Harding (1948) and tested in 1955 by Diana Kirkbride (1958). More recently it was surveyed by Albert Leonard in 1984 and by Alan Simmons, Deborah Olszewski and Zeidan Kafafi in 1988 ... Four summer excavation seasons in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 were sponsored by the University of Jordan with the support of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. Results of the four seasons of excavation confirmed that Tell Abu Suwwan dates to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) and Pottery Neolithic (Yarmoukian) periods. Although the site contains its own distinct architecture it shares various similarities with several Levantine Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) sites and Pottery Neolithic (PN) sites (al-Nahar 2008 and 2010).

by Maysoon Al Nahar and Zeidan Kafafi (2015)

ABSTRACT: The archaeological excavations conducted at the site Tell Abu Suwwan indicated that it was continuously occupied during two main periods from the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B through the Pottery Neolithic (Yarmoukian). The main focus of this paper is to study the pottery assemblage encountered in the Yarmoukian strata at Abu Tell Suwwan. Excavations at Tell Abu Suwwan in 2005 - 2008 yielded a total of 488 pieces of Yarmoukian pottery. The sample under study includes 86 Yarmoukian pottery sherds that came from in situ contexts ascribable to the Yarmoukian period/culture. This research studied the Tell Abu Suwwan pottery assemblage in detail and presents a parallel study with contemporaneous pottery developments in the southern Levant. The comparative study of Tell Abu Suwwan indicates that the Wadi az-Zarqa basin was settled during the second half of the seventh millennium BCE (calibrated) with farming communities. The inhabitants of the Yarmoukian sites around Tell Abu Suwwan manufactured similar pottery forms and wares. The results of this study indicate that pots were probably produced at individual sites. However the notion that there might have been a center of Yarmoukian pottery production in the Wadi az-Zarqa during the Late Neolithic is still under consideration.

The Neolithic village was established in the Wadi az-Zarqa basin midway between the river’s source near Amman and its mouth, where it empties into the Jordan River. Several other Neolithic villages where established in this basin such as Ain Ghazal, eh-Sayyeh and Abu Thawwab. This high occupation density suggests intensive settlement during the Neolithic period. Archeological data from Tell Abu Suwwan suggest that it was linked to both the Jordan Valley and others in the highland and the Jordanian Badiya during the Neolithic period. The excavators of the Wisad site in the Badiya uncovered typical Yarmoukian flint tools and a single Yarmoukian pottery sherd decorated with herring-bone incision (Wasse et al 2011; 2013).

Cancellieri, Emanuele et al --- Study of bone artifacts and use techniques from the Neolithic Jordanian site;
Tell Abu Suwwan (PPNB-PN)
--- International Council for Archaeozoology (2010)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium