Archaeobotanical studies in the Levant. 2. Neolithic and Halaf levels at Ras Shamra


  • W. van Zeist
  • J.A.H. Bakker-Heeres


This paper deals with the examination of charred seeds and fruits recovered from aceramic and ceramic Neolithic (6500-5250 B.C.) and Halaf levels (5250-4300 B.C.) unearthed in sounding SH at Ras Shamra, Northwest Syria. Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) and two-rowed hulled barley (Hordeum distichum) were the major cereal crop plants, whereas einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum) and free-threshing wheat (Triticum durum/laestivum) were of minor importance. The pulse crops included lentil (Lens culinaris) and field pea (Pisum sativum). Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) was also cultivated. It looks as if the importance of pulses relative to cereals diminished considerably in the course of the prehistoric habitation. The cropplant assortment of the phase Va (5750-5250 B.C.) farmers at Ras Shamra is compared to that of sixth millennium B.C. sites in Cyprus and inland SW Asia. In addition to wild olive, the fruits of pistachio, grape, figand hawthorn were collected. Among the weeds, Lolium shows high proportions in Halaf levels. A comparisonis made of the weed seed types demonstrated for Ras Shamra, Ramad and Erbaba (Turkey).