Tell Qaramel

Tell Qaramel

  • Project name:

    Joint Syro-Polish Qaramel Mission

  • Site type:

    Settlement

    Location:

    Syria
    Northern Levant

    Dating:

    – Proto-Neolithic and the beginnings of Pre-Pottery Neolithic (mid-11th millennium BC to mid-10th millennium BC)

Most interesting finds:

– A few dozen early Neolithic structures, including five towers and two proto-temples
– More than 400 ornamental stone objects
– A few dozen skeleton burials inside the settlement

History of research:

Dates of PCMA research:

1999–2011

Type of research:

Excavations

Project directors:

Ryszard F. Mazurowski (1999-2011)
Bassam Jammous (1999–2000 and 2002)
Thaer Yartah (2001)
Youssef Kanjou (2003–2011)

Partners:

– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw
– Directorate of Antiquities of the Republic of Syria

Description of site and research results:

The settlement excavated in Tell Qaramel covers almost 3.5 ha and includes relics from the Proto-Neolithic and early Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPNA). During 13 seasons of excavations five circular stone towers were radiocarbon-dated to the period from the middle of the 11th millennium BC to about 9650 BC, which makes them the oldest structures of this type in the world. On the basis of more than 80 C14 dates five settlement horizons were distinguished: H0 16,890–10,980 BC; H1 10,890–9670 BC; H2 10,670–9250 BC; H3 9820–8710 BC; H4 9310–8780 BC. The monumental structures were of cult character and at the same time were probably places of assembly for the inhabitants of the settlement. One piece of evidence for this is the design of the interiors.

In the trenches located beside the towers about 90 domestic buildings and outhouses were discovered, as well as three temples/assembly places, numerous hearths and pits. Thirty-five human burials and several animal ones were found under the floors of some houses and in oval or circular pits dug between buildings. The deceased were laid in an embryonic position and a few of the graves were furnished with stone or bone beads and plaques.

Also discovered in the settlement was a rich collection of objects of everyday use made of flint and bone but predominantly of stone like chlorite and limestone. Many of them were richly decorated with geometrical, animal and anthropomorphic motifs.

In the case of Qaramel the most astounding thing is the fact that such highly-developed culture took roots in a community of hunter-gatherers (during the work conducted thus far no traces of the domestication of animals or the cultivation of grains were found).

Project bibliography:

Ławecka, D. (2016). EB IVB pottery from Tell Qaramel (western Syria). Syria, 93, 201–234.

Mazurowski, R. F., Kanjou, Y. ( Eds.). (2012). Tell Qaramel. Protoneolithic and Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic Settlement in Northern Syria (Preliminary results of the Syrian-Polish archaeological excavations 1999–2007) // Un village protonéolithique et préceramique en Syrie du Nord (=PCMA Excavation Series 2) Warsaw: Centrum Archeologii Śródziemnomorskiej Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2011). Tell Qaramel. Research 2008, Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 20, Warsaw, 319–339.

Mazurowski, R. F. & Kanjou, Y. (2011). Preliminary Report on the Eleventh Season of Excavations at Tell Qaramel (Spring 2009), Chronique Archaeologique en Syrie, V, Damascus, 19–30.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2010). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2007, Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 19, Warsaw, 565–585.

Mazurowski, R. F. & Kanjou, Y. (2010). Preliminary Report on the Tenth Season of Excavations at Tell Qaramel (Autumn 2008), Chronique Archaeologique en Syrie, 4, Damascus, 39–50.

Mazurowski, R. F., Michczyńska, D. J., Pazdur, A. & Piotrowska, N. (2009) Chronology of the Early Pre-pottery Neolithic Settlement Tell Qaramel, Northern Syria, in the Light of Radiocarbon Dating. Radiocarbon, 51(2), 771–781.

Gręzak, A. (2008). Zwierzęce szczątki kostne z Tell Qaramel (północno-zachodnia Syria). In Badania archeozoologiczne w Polsce i Europie Środkowo-Wschodniej Materiały-Metody-Interpretacje, III Sympozjum Archeologii Środowiskowej, Katowice-Koszęcin, 26–29 Listopada 2008, 42–45.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2008). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2006. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 18, Warsaw, 571–586.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2007). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2005. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 17, Warsaw, 483–500.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2005). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2004. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 16, Warsaw, 497–510.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2004). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2003, Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 15, Warszawa, 355–370.

Mazurowski, R. F. & Jamous, B. (2003). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2002. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 14, Warsaw, 315–330.

Mazurowski, R. F. & Yartah, T. (2002). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2001. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 13, Warsaw, 295–307.

Mazurowski, R. F. & Jamous, B. (2001). Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2000. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 12, Warsaw, 327–342.

Mazurowski, R. F. (2000). Tell Qaramel. Preliminary Report on the First Season, 1999. Polish Archaeology in Mediterranean, 11, Warsaw, 285–296.

Gallery:

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