Known for its archaeological significance. Particularly as it relates to the neolithic period and northern Mesopotamia. Mureybet is a tell, or ancient mound. In Mureybetian cultures early stages. It was a small village occupied by hunter-gatherers. At first crops were gathered. Eventually cultivated. And, animals domesticated. But its believed they remained somewhat wild. As times progressed to the neolithic period.
Mureybet tell and its environment is situated above a ridge that is 4 meters (or 13 feet) above the river Euphrates
Its climate was a lot different back then. It was colder and more humid. An effect of the Younger Dryas event. Species of vegetation included terebinths (pistachio trees), almonds and wild cereals. As well, they began to domesticate plants like wheat, barley, and legumes. As well as animals like goats and sheep.
Mureybet was at the northern end of the area of Natufian culture (12,000 to 9,500 BC), and not far from Tell Abu Hureyra
4 occupation phases were revealed in excavations. To middle pre-pottery neolithic B (PPNB). Around 10,000 years ago. That was excavated between 1964 and 1974. Natufian occupation was characterized here by hearths. Cooking pits but no dwellings were identified. There is evidence of rye and barley being cultivated though. And inhabitants hunted gazelle and equid (wild horse). They had dogs, and fishing was also important.
Khiamian Phases: IB, IIA and IIB
Sometimes poorly understood and debated. Was pre-pottery neolithic a, or 9700 to 9300 BC. This time period included the transition from Natufian to neolithic. It is the only site where Khiamian culture is associated with architectural remains. Round semi-subterranean structures with a diameter of 6 meters (or 20 feet) were found. To be exact. In subsequent phases. Smaller round houses wear also built at ground level appearing. The walls were built with compacted earth and stones. Hearths and cooking pits were important. Located outside of the buildings. There had signs of barley, rye and buckwheat. Numerous well used grinding stones were found. Vindicating grains were an important part of diet. There were also fish, equid and gazelle remains. Vindicating hunting and fishing were important parts of the diet.
The Mureybetian: Phases IIIA and IIIB.
9300 to 8600 BC was a sub phase of the PPNA. That was named after where it was found. In the area of the middle Euphrates. Here architecture became diverse. Multi celled buildings begin to appear. Next to round buildings that were already in existence. Walls were built with cigar shaped stones. And, covered with earth.
It had been compared to similar structures like at Jerf el Ahmar. Where they had been interpreted as special buildings. Used for community function. For example: rooms too small for people but what could be used for storage. Good for hearths, or cooking pits too. And, that were lined to outdoor areas. Where people could lounge and relax. There was evidence of barley, rye and einkorn. Animal hides were being processed. And, one of the earliest known writing for record keeping was discovered. Clay counting tokens. This period coincided with explosive growth or cereals and trade.
The last phases were: IVA 8600 to 8200; and, IVB 8200 to 8000 BC
Dating to PPNB. Though there were not many architectural samples. Outside of mud built walls or rectangular structures. Not many domestic cereals were found either. It was early on. During this period. The hunters were focused on Equids, as well as Aurochs. Domesticated cattle, sheep and goat were probably present during this period. A tasty meal no doubt. Though probably more appropriate for its time.
Excavation produced an abundance of tools. Mostly from local flints
Included was points, burins, scrapers, borders and herminettes (a wood working tool). Apart from lithics, other categories were also present in smaller quantities. Personal ornaments such as pierced shells, small stone and shell discs. Bones used for needles. To make clothes, baskets, awls and axe sheaths. Other items included softer stone like limestone vessels, and carvings from ivory. 8 human figurines resembling women from limestone and baked earth were found. However, more recently. The site disapeared under the rising waters of lake Assad and Tabqa dam.
Considered an important site for understanding the development of agriculture. And, sedentary life in the neolithic middle east. Mureybet sheds light on the cultural and technological innovations of early societies.
Like other archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent. It contributes to our understanding of the transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to settled agriculture. A fundamental step in the development of civilizations and neolithic architecture in the near east.
Bibliography: van Loon, Maurits N. (1968), “The Oriental Institute excavations at Mureybit, Syria: preliminary report on the 1965 campaign. Part I: architecture and general finds”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 27 (4): 265–282, doi:10.1086/371975 (https://doi.org/10.1086%2F371975), JSTOR 543223 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/543223)
Ibáñez, Juan José (2008a), “Introduction”, in Ibáñez, Juan José (ed.), Le site néolithique de Tell Mureybet (Syrie du Nord). En hommage à Jacques Cauvin, BAR International Series (in French), vol. 1843, Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 7–13, hdl:10261/9796 (https://hdl.handle.net/10261%2F9796), ISBN 978-1-4073-0330-7
Cauvin, Jacques (1977), “Les fouilles de Mureybet (1971-1974) et leur signification pour les origines de la sedentarisation au Proche-Orient”, The Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research (in French), 44: 19–48, JSTOR 3768538 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/3768538)