A Mousterian Dromedary Hunting Camp:
Level VI1aO at Umm el Tlel (El Kowm, Central Syria)
Christophe GRIGGO, Éric BOËDA, Stéphanie BONILAURI,
Heba AL SAKHEL, Aline EMERY-BARBIER, Marie-Agnès COURTY
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.