Tell Sabi Abyad is Arabic: ‫ض‬ ‫ي‬ ‫ب‬ ‫أ‬ ‫ي‬ ‫ب‬ ‫ص‬ ‫ل‬ ‫ت‬ or ‘mound of the white boy’

A main archaeological site exists in the Balikh River valley in northern Syria. Consisting of four prehistoric mounds. It has been shown, that these sites were already inhabited almost 10,000 years ago. Or, 7500 to 5500 BC.

Excavation in 1986
They begin digging at mound 1 in 1986. Among the finds were several tablets and stamp seals. And, further to signs of early neolithic rule. More than 1000 unbaked clay sling missles stored in a container.
By 1991 and 92. It was not possible to fully excavate the 4th mound. Because of its use as a local cementary. They were able to focus on other areas. Before, when in 2010 Syrian civil war broke out.

Tell Sabi Abyad is one of the important sites of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period
They had large crops of emmer wheat. Einkorn, barley, flax too. Peas and lentils were also found.
Animal domestication was predominantly goats, but also sheep, cattle and pigs. A small number of gazelle were hunted. Back then, poplar, willow and ash trees would have grown. Its believed the area of Mesopotamia proper was not yet settled by humans.

Pottery was somewhat similar to other prehistoric sites
Tell Sabi Abyad pottery has variations of what had been found at Tell Seker al-Aheimar, Tell Halula, Akarçay Tepe Höyük, and Mezraa-Teleilat. They had dark faced burnished ware, a fine ware resembling hassuna and samarra ware. Often featuring horned animals. Some of the pots had angled necks and ornate geometric designs.

Did you know? Dating to 6900-6800 BC. Consisting of mineral-tempered, and sometimes painted. The oldest pottery in Syria was discovered. Remarkably, it was of very high quality. Later on, they stopped painting and the quality declined. At the moment, the question of why residents stopped painting is unanswered.

Around 6200 BC. Cultural changes took place
New types of architecture existed. It included extensive storehouses and small circular buildings (tholoi). There was complex decorated pottery in different shapes and wares. Clay spindle worls. Small transverse arrowheads and short tangled points. And, seals or sealings. As indications of property.

A strange ‘burnt village’ exists here
Around 6000 BC. There was a fire. Pottery, and stone vessels, figurines and tools were recovered. One of the buildings must have been used for archives. Because it had over 150 clay sealings with stamp seals. As well as counting tokens and other goods. Including ceramics, stone shells, axes, bone carvings, and human clay figurines. All signs of one of the earliest developed registration and administrative systems.

Largest collection of clay tokens, and sealings found yet
Made by a minimum of 61 stamp seals. Over two hundred and seventy-five were found.

At the site Tell Sabi Abyad I is the largest excavation
About 240 meters by 170 meters and with a height of 10 meters. This was a big project. Believed to be occupied in the 6th millenium before christ. Architecture included multi room rectangular buildings. With round structures used for storage called ‘tholoi’.
Later remains of a massive structure were also found dating to the bronze age. It had giant walls, a staircase and evidence of garrison station.

Tell Sabi Abyad II was a 246x410x15 foot dig
Dates around 7550 and 6850 BC. The site shows an uninterrupted sequence from the pre-pottery to ceramic phase.

The key findings at Tell Sabi Abyad include evidence of neolithic settlement. There pottery, and artifacts help provide invaluable insights into the development of human civilization. The site contributes to understanding the transition from hunter-gatherer. To settled agriculture, and the emergence of complex societies in Mesopotamia. And, during the neolithic, or ‘new stone age’.

Peter M. M. G. Akkermans. “Tell Sabi Abyad: 1986 Campaign.” Syria, vol. 65, no. 3/4, 1988,

Maisels, Charles (1993). The Near East: Archaeology in the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ ( Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-04742-5.

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