A Mousterian Dromedary Hunting Camp:

Level VI1aO at Umm el Tlel (El Kowm, Central Syria)

Christophe GRIGGO, Éric BOËDA, Stéphanie BONILAURI,

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The site of Umm el Tlel, located in the El Kowm basin in Central Syria, contains a long stratigraphic sequence extending from the Roman period to the Acheulean. The artifacts exceptional well preserved, particularly for the Mousterian. The existence of such a sequence on the steppe margins can be explained by the permanent presence of water.

The abundant artifacts collected throughout the Mousterian sequence have permitted us to show that there was a significant variability in regional technical behaviors and to identify the functions of this site.

Through a multidisciplinary approach, we thus propose to explain why we believe that the Mousterian level VI1a0 corresponds precisely to what most archaeologists consider as a “hunting camp”.

This level, excavated over a surface of 20 m2, yielded nearly 250 archaeological artifacts. Faunal remains are by far the most abundant and all are attributed to a single species: dromedary, or Arabian camel. The lithic artifacts consist of less than twenty objects, including 15 retouched flint flakes over 2 cm long and two limestone blocks. The whole assemblage was fossilized in silts of a palustrine origin, which were deposited very shortly after the Mousterian occupation. There was no subsequent post-depositional disturbance. We thus have an exceptional recording of a short duration occupation during which a small group of Mousterians came to hunt dromedaries at the edge of a lake.

To cite this article

Griggo C., Boëda É., Bonilauri S., Al Sakhel H., Emery-Barbier A., Courty M.-A., 2011 – A Mousterian Dromedary Hunting Camp: Level VI1aO at Umm el Tlel (El Kowm, Central Syria), in Bon F., Costamagno S., Valdeyron N. (eds.), Hunting Camps in Prehistory. Current Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings of the International Symposium, May 13-15 2009, University Toulouse II – Le Mirail, P@lethnology, 3, 103-129.