The Neolithic site of Cheikh Hassan (Euphrates valley, Syria)

Cheikh Hassan (Euphrates valley, Syria) is one of the key Northern Levant sites on which the periodisation and definition of the Neolithic in the Near East were established. With a stratigraphy covering the 9th millennium BCE (PPNA) and the beginning of the 8th millennium BCE (early stages of the PPNB), it encompasses two crucial milestones in the neolithisation processes of the Near East: the beginnings of agriculture and the onset of farming in sedentary communities. Despite its significance, the research conducted at Cheikh Hassan has never been fully published.

First excavated in 1976 in the framework of the Mission Française d’El Kowm-Mureybet [MPK] under the direction of Jacques Cauvin, Cheikh Hassan has exposed the remnants of the diverse daily activities of the first village communities: abundant lithic industry (flint and obsidian), millstones and mortars, animal and plant remains, etc. While the Syrian conflict triggered the destruction of numerous monuments and collections, the archives of the excavations conducted at Cheikh Hassan, along with part of the assemblages, have fortunately been preserved in the archaeological reserves of the MPK, in France. Their preservation now allows the interdisciplinary study and publication of the Neolithic village of Cheikh Hassan, some 27 years after the last campaign – a rare scientific opportunity to revisit the PPNA and early PPNB periods.

The publication project is directed by Frédéric Abbès and Marie Orange.