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Bouqras is located in Near East
Shown within Near East
Bouqras is located in Syria
Bouqras (Syria)
Location35 km (22 mi) southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Coordinates35°05′07″N 40°23′51″E / 35.085274°N 40.397445°E / 35.085274; 40.397445Coordinates: 35°05′07″N 40°23′51″E / 35.085274°N 40.397445°E / 35.085274; 40.397445
Part ofVillage
Length250 metres (820 ft)
Width100 metres (330 ft)
Area5 hectares (540,000 sq ft)
Materialbones, flints, pottery, plaster
Foundedc. 7400
Abandonedc. 6200 BC
PeriodsPPNA, PPNB, Neolithic
Site notes
Excavation dates1960-1965
ArchaeologistsHenri de Contenson
Willem J. van Liere
Peter Akkermanns
Maurits van Loon
J. J. Roodenberg
H. T. Waterbolk
ManagementDirectorate-General of Antiquities and Museums
Public accessYes

Bouqras is a large, oval shaped, prehistoric, Neolithic Tell, about 5 hectares (540,000 sq ft) in size, located around 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Deir ez-Zor in Syria.[1]


The tell was discovered in 1960 by Dutch Geomorphologist, Willem van Liere. It was excavated between 1960 and 1965 by Henri de Contenson and van Liere and later between 1976 and 1978 by Peter Akkermanns, Maurits van Loon, J. J. Roodenberg and H. T. Waterbolk.[1]


The mound was found to be approximately 4.5 metres (15 ft) deep and showed evidence of 11 periods of occupation spread over at least 1000 years between ca. 7400 and 6200 BC. The earliest levels, 11 to 8, showed early Neolithic aceramic occupation developing on to stages with pottery in levels 7 to 1, from which over 7000 sherds were recovered. Material from later levels was visible on the surface when first discovered.[1] The layout and arrangement of houses seems to have been well ordered with similar arrangements of rooms, entrances, hearths and other features. Houses were made of mud bricks and generally rectangular with three or four rooms.[2]


Bouqras seems to have developed in comparative isolation with few other settlements near the area. Interiors of the buildings featured white plastered walls with occasional use of red ochre for decoration with some images of birds. By later stages of the settlement, it was likely inhabited by as many as 700 to 1000 villagers.[1] Large quantities of obsidian was found suggesting links with Anatolia.[2] A distinctive group of limestone, alabaster and gypsum vessels was also found made from local materials.[3] Rounded or cylindrical beads were also found made of bone, shell, greenstones, carnelian and dentalium. An alabaster bracelet fragment and pendant were recovered as forms of personal decoration.[3] Several stone stamp seals including one of alabaster and one of jadeite were found with incised rectilinear patterns along with a few clay figurines. Pottery started to be found from the third level of habitation including a white plaster vessel. Other materials were varied with coarse and fine sherds made with mixed straw and sand. Some sherds were burnished or painted red, one with a triangle on it.[3] Arrowheads recovered included Byblos points and two types of Amuq points along with two other distinctive designs.[4] Flints were usually of a fine dark grey or brown type found locally.[3]

Agriculture and animal domestication[edit]

Paleobotanical studies were carried out by Willem van Zeist on carbonized plant remains recovered via water flotation. This has shown rain fed agriculture was practiced at Bouqras including cultivation of Emmer, Einkorn and free-threshing wheat, naked and hulled barley, peas and lentils.[6][7] Sickle blades, querns and pounders appear in the early stages at Bouqras, but not in later stages. White Ware was found suggested to have been used as basket covering to make them impermeable.[2]

Sheep and goat comprised approximately 80% of the 5800 identifiable fragments of animal remains found. Other fauna included pigs and cattle, the domestication of which is uncertain. Deer, gazelle and onager were also hunted.[8]

Relative chronology[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Peter M. M. G. Akkermans; Glenn M. Schwartz (2003). The archaeology of Syria: from complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (c. 16,000-300 BC). Cambridge University Press. pp. 121–. ISBN 978-0-521-79666-8. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Moore, A.M.T. (1978). The Neolithic of the Levant. Oxford University, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. pp. 176–178.
  3. ^ a b c d Moore, A.M.T. (1978). The Neolithic of the Levant. Oxford University, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. pp. 176–180.
  4. ^ J. J. Roodenberg (1986). Le mobilier en pierre de Bouqras. Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te İstanbul. ISBN 978-90-6258-061-3. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  5. ^ Brockschmidt, Rolf (2 June 2015). "Wissen ist stärker als die Zerstörungswut des IS". (in German). Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  6. ^ Van Zeist W. , Waterbolk-Van-Rooijen W., Paleorient, Volume 11/2, The Palaeobotany of Tell Bouqras, Eastern Syria, 1985.
  7. ^ Corinne Julien (2000). Histoire de l'humanité: De la préhistoire aux débuts de la civilisation. UNESCO. pp. 1043–. ISBN 978-92-3-202810-5. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  8. ^ Sytze Bottema; International Union for Quaternary Research; Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen. Biologisch-Archeologisch Instituut (1990). Man's role in the shaping of the eastern Mediterranean landscape: proceedings of the INQUA/BAI Symposium on the Impact of Ancient Man on the Landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean Region and the Near East, Groningen, Netherlands, 6-9 March 1989. Taylor & Francis. pp. 199–. ISBN 978-90-6191-138-8. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  9. ^ Liverani, Mario (2013). The Ancient Near East: History, Society and Economy. Routledge. p. 13, Table 1.1 "Chronology of the Ancient Near East". ISBN 9781134750917.
  10. ^ a b Shukurov, Anvar; Sarson, Graeme R.; Gangal, Kavita (7 May 2014). "The Near-Eastern Roots of the Neolithic in South Asia". PLOS ONE. 9 (5): e95714. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...995714G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095714. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4012948. PMID 24806472.
  11. ^ Bar-Yosef, Ofer; Arpin, Trina; Pan, Yan; Cohen, David; Goldberg, Paul; Zhang, Chi; Wu, Xiaohong (29 June 2012). "Early Pottery at 20,000 Years Ago in Xianrendong Cave, China". Science. 336 (6089): 1696–1700. Bibcode:2012Sci...336.1696W. doi:10.1126/science.1218643. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 22745428.
  12. ^ Thorpe, I. J. (2003). The Origins of Agriculture in Europe. Routledge. p. 14. ISBN 9781134620104.
  13. ^ Price, T. Douglas (2000). Europe's First Farmers. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780521665728.
  14. ^ Jr, William H. Stiebing; Helft, Susan N. (2017). Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture. Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 9781134880836.

Further reading[edit]

  • de Contenson, H. van Liere, W.J. A Note on Five Early Neolithic Sites in Inland Syria 13, 175–209, 1963.
  • de Contenson, Henri., & van Liere, Willem., Premier sondage à Bouqras en 1965. Rapport préliminaire, Annales Archéologiques Arabes Syriennes XVI 2, 1966, p. 181-192.
  • de Contenson, H. Découvertes récentes dans la domaine du Néolithique en Syrie, L'Anthropologie, 70, 388–391, 1966.
  • Vogel, J.C., Waterbolk, H.T., Groningen Radiocarbon Dates VII,Radiocarbon, 9, 107–155, 1967.
  • Clason, A.T., The Animal Remains from Tell Es Sinn Compared with those from Bouqras, Anatolica, 7, 35–53, 1980.
  • Akkermans, P.A., Fokkens, H., Waterbolk, H.T., Stratigraphy, architecture and layout of Bouqras in Cauvin, J. and Sanlaville (eds.) 1981, Préhistore du Levant: Chronologie et organisation de l´éspace depuis les origines jusqu´au VIe millenaire, Colloque International du CNRS, Lyon 1980, Paris, 485–502, 1981.
  • Akkermans et al. 1983 Akkermans, P.A. Boerma, J.A.K. Clason, A.T. Hill, S.G. Lohof, E. Meiklejohn, C. Le Mière, M. Molgat, G.M.F. Roodenberg, J. Waterbolk-van Rooijen, W. van Zeist, W., Bouqras Revisited: Preliminary Report on a Project in Eastern Syria Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 49, 335–372, 1983.
  • de Contenson, Henri., La campagne de 1965 à Bouqras, Cahiers de l'Euphrate, 4, 335–371, 1985.
  • Roodenberg, J., Le mobilier en pierre de Bouqras. Utilisation de la pierre dans un site néolithique sur le Mayen Euphrate (Syrie) Leiden/Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut, 1986.
  • Lohof, E., A lesser known figurine from the near eastern Neolithic, Haex et al. (eds.) 1989 in To the Euphrates and Beyond: Archaeological Studies in Honour of Maurits N. van Loon, Balkema, Rotterdam, 65–74, 1989.
  • Clason, A.T., The Bouqras Bird Frieze, Anatolica, 16, 209–213, 1990.
  • Boerma, J.A.K., Palaeo Environment and Palaeo Land-Evaluation Based on Actual Environment Conditions of Tell Bouqras, East Syria, Anatolica, 16, 215–249, 1990.
  • Bernbeck, R., Die Auflösung der häuslichen Produktionsweise, Berliner Beiträge zum Vorderen Orient 14 (Ph.D. dissertation Berlin, Freie Univ. 1991), Berlin, 1994.

External links[edit]