The Neolithic of the Levant (Excerpt 132)
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Chapter 5: Neolithic 3 Tell Sukas (Pages 299-302)

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Tell Sukas lies on the coast of Syria 6 kilometres south of Jeble. It is situated on a promontory between two small bays which served as harbours in ancient times; two streams flow into these bays on either side of the site (See Page 8 in *1 Below). The earliest settlement was a Neolithic village founded on a low natural rise about 4.5 metres above sea level. This was covered by debris from later periods of occupation.

The remains of the Neolithic settlement were found at the bottom of a sounding made beneath the later city. The deposit was 3 metres deep. The earliest occupation (period N11) consisted of traces of plaster floors and a pit 60 centimetres in diameter dug into the natural subsoil (See Page 10ff ibid). Above this were several layers in which remains of buildings were found (periods N5-N1). These structures were rectilinear with at least two rooms in some instances and were orientated north-south. The walls had stone footings with clay or mud-brick walls. Associated with these buildings were plastered and trodden floors - pits - hearths and much occupation debris. The upper levels (periods N5-N1) consisted of more plaster floors and other surfaces with pits and hearths but the only structure was a stone wall found in layer 63 (See Page 70 ibid). The remains found in these levels indicate that the area excavated was then an open space between buildings. An area of dark loam was found over part of N1 which was thought to have been formed after the Neolithic settlement was abandoned (See Page 60 ibid). The layer above this has been dated by a C-14 determination of 3960 100 B.C. K-936 (See Page 108:15:1973 in *2 Below) so occupation of the Neolithic settlement must have ceased well before to allow the soil to develop.

Relatively few flint tools were found at Tell Sukas - doubtless because the sounding was so small. Among them were a number of Amuq 1 and 2 arrowheads -- leaf-shaped and tanged arrowheads - a few sickle blades - a burin and some flake scrapers as well as retouched blades (See Pages 16, 18 and 40 in *1 Below). Obsidian was used throughout the life of the Neolithic settlement. Other stone artifacts were also rare but they included (1) polished axes and adzes (2) basalt querns and rubbers and (3) bowls (See Pages 16, 36, 55, 63 and 80 ibid).

Potsherds were abundant in nearly all the layers. Many of the vessels were simple in shape - consisting for the most part of hemispherical bowls and collared jars with ledge handles for lifting (See Page 23 ibid). These vessels were usually black - grey or brown in colour with a burnished surface although unburnished pots were also made. Some vessels had incised - impressed or combed decoration; particularly in the later phases and a few were painted (See Pages 19, 63 and 68 ibid). Others had a plaster coating and one was pattern burnished (See Pages 18 and 52 ibid). White ware was also present throughout and again the vessels were simple in shape. The two principal types were open bowls with splayed sides and hemispherical bowls some of which had ring bases (See Pages 26 and 77 ibid); a few of these vessels were painted.

The buildings and artifacts from Tell Sukas have much in common with Ras Shamra - particularly in Phase V B. The site thus appears to have been first occupied early in the 6th millennium and then continuously inhabited until quite late in Neolithic 3. Tell Sukas may be ascribed to the North Syrian group although it has certain traits such as impressed and combed decoration on pottery in common with Tabbat Hammam and other sites further south.

Qallat Rus 6 kilometres north of Jeble may also have first been occupied in Neolithic 3 since plain burnished and pattern burnished vessels were found in the lower levels (See Page 10 and 18 in *3 Below) .....

Bibliography

*1 Sukas III: The Neolithic Period by P.J. Riis and H. Thrane
Publication of the Carlsberg Expedition to Phoenicia
Volume 3 (1974) [LC # AS 281 D2144]

*2 Radiocarbon: American Journal of Science Supplement
Library of Congress # QC 798 D3 A48

*3 Early Pottery of the Jebeleh Region (1939)
Ann Ehrich in Memoirs American Philosophical Society
Volume 13 : Pages 1-129 (LC # Q 11 P612)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium