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2014-04-03 10:55:28   •   ID: 2159

A Modified Byblos Point from the Jordan Valley

Figure 1
This is an Byblos-Point from the the Levantine PPNB "Big Arrowhead Tradition", found decenia ago in the Jordan Valley. These tools were made from specific bipolar cores. -see here: 1147

Interestingly the Tip has modified to a dihedral Burin (Figure 3). The design of the artifact is not suspicious for the knappers primary intention to create a tanged burin- rather the burin spalls were removed early in a process of rejuvenation of a already used tool.

I have already described a similar tool from the European Upper Paleolithic from my collection - see: Burination

With the appearance and development of the PPNA culture (Neolithic pre-ceramic A) in the Levant, a major change is taking place in the production technologies of lithic tools. The microlithism characteristic of Epipaleolithic periods is gradually abandoned, as observed in Hatoula and Mureybet, in favor of the production of increasingly long and wide blades.

Bipolar laminar technology has its origins in middle Euphrates valley at the end of the recent PPNA and at the start of the early PPNB, around the first quarter of the 9th millennium BC on sites such as Cheikh Hassan, Jerf el Ahmar and Mureybet IIIB-IVA.

It gradually developed from a unipolar laminar technology with two opposite striking planes documented during the PPNA - one of two striking planes being only intended to correct the distal edges of the blades detached from the opposite striking plane.

Figure 2
The appearance of the highly standardized bipolar production of large blades with very specific characteristics (rectilinear profiles, naturally pointed and generally robust) for the manufacture of projectile points, and to a lesser extent, sickle blades, knives and other tool types constitutes a major change in local lithic traditions.

Beginning with the 9th millennium cal. BC the bipolar technique diffuses along the middle Euphrates valley to sites such as Nevalı Çori and Göbekli (Layer 2) as well as north-west of Syria (Orontes valley), at Ain el-Kerkh (Layers 7-9).

Traces of in situ production of central or predetermined blades were reported at each of these sites (presence of naviform cores, long blades, tablets, crested blades and Byblos points).We observe a rapid dispersal westward, reaching Cyprus at around 8,500 cal. BC (Shilourokambos- see 1005 in Cyprus )

The spread of Bipolar technology to the upper Euphrates and Tigris valleys followed a more complex process. A significant proportion of bipolar blades and finished tools (Byblos points), often obtained from standardized “naviform” cores, was reported during the study of the lithic industries belonging to the “Grill and Channeled Building” sub-phases by Çayönü (ca. 8500-8100 cal. BC).

The presence of such blades and finished tools in Çayönü has been interpreted as proof of complex networks of intercommunity exchanges, probably originating in the middle Euphrates valley.

It’s only around 8000 cal. BC that the abundant presence of Byblos points, “naviform” cores and elements indicative of their debitage appear at Çayönü (“Cobble and Cell Buildings” sub-phases, and Cafer (early phase), indicating that the bipolar technology has been completely adopted and integrated into the local lithic traditions of the high Euphrates and Tigris valleys.

Figure 3
It was also during this period that obsidian was incorporated as the main raw material used for the production of bipolar blades, to its use for the production of pressure blades.

Around the middle of the 8 millennium cal. Bipolar cores share the base for lithic industries at almost sites dated to the later stages of the PPNB in ​​the North Levant.

The bipolar blades are finally produced from obsidian and a wide range of flint, from medium to fine grained (local or imported) from both primary and secondary deposits (river and wadi terraces).

Suggested Reading:

Jacques Gauvin, Les outillages néolithiques de Byblos et du littoral libanais (Maurice Dunand, Fouilles de Byblos, tome IV)

Klaus Schmidt, Sie bauten die ersten Tempel: Das rätselhafte Heiligtum am Göbekli Tepe; 2016.

Provenance: Levenstein Collection (ISR)