Ksar Akil

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Ksar Akil
Ksar Akil
Ksar Akil
location in Lebanon
Alternate name Ksar 'Aqil
Location 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Beirut
Coordinates 33°55′00″N 35°36′00″E / 33.916667°N 35.6°E / 33.916667; 35.6
Type Rock Shelter
Periods Middle Palaeolithic, Upper Palaeolithic, Epipalaeolithic
Cultures Transitional/Initial Upper Palaeolithic, Ahmarian Northern Facies, Levantine Aurignacian, Antelian
Site notes
Excavation dates 1937-1938, 1947-1948, 1969-1975
Archaeologists J.G. Doherty: Boston College, J.F. Ewing: Fordham University, Jacques Tixier: CNRS
Public access Yes
Ksar Akil Flake made by Levallois technique. Found on the surface at Ksar Akil, Lebanon. Blue-grey jurassic flint that patinates to white.

Ksar Akil is an archeological site 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Beirut in Lebanon. It is located about 800 m (2,600 ft) west of Antelias spring on the north bank of the northern tributary of the Wadi Antelias. It is a large rock shelter below a steep limestone cliff.[1]

It was first noticed by Godefroy Zumoffen in 1900[2] and first studied by A. E. Day in 1926[3] then first systematically excavated by J.G. Doherty, S.J., and J.F. Ewing, S.J., in 1937-1938 and again in 1947-1948, then later by Jacques Tixier in 1969-1975 before research was interrupted by the Lebanese Civil War.

Excavations showed occupational deposits reaching down to a depth of 23.6 m (77 ft) with one of the longest sequences of Paleolithic flint industries ever found in the Middle East. The first level of 8 m (26 ft) contained Upper Levalloiso-Mousterian remains with long and triangular Lithic flakes. The level above this showed industries accounting for all six stages of the Upper Paleolithic. An Emireh point was found at the first stage of this level (XXIV), at around 15.2 m (50 ft) below datum with a complete skeleton of an eight-year-old Homo sapiens (called Egbert, now in the National Museum of Beirut after being studied in America) was discovered at 11.6 m (38 ft), cemented into breccia. A fragment of a Neanderthal maxilla was also discovered in material from level XXVI or XXV, at around 15 m (49 ft). Studies by Hooijer showed Capra and Dama were dominant in the fauna along with Stephanorhinus in later Levalloiso-Mousterian levels.[1]

It is assumed to be one of the earliest known sites containing Upper Paleolithic technologies including Aurignacian cultural objects. Artifacts recovered from the site include Ksar Akil flakes, the main type of tool found at the site, along with pierced shells and chipped edge modifications that suggest these have been used as pendants or beads. This indicates that the inhabitants were among the first in Western Eurasia to use personal ornaments. Results from radiocarbon dating indicate that the early humans may have lived at the site approximately 45,000 years ago or earlier. The presence of personal ornaments at Ksar Akil is suggestive of modern human behavior. The findings of ornaments at the site are contemporaneous with ornaments found at Late Stone Age sites such as Enkapune ya muto.[4][5][6]

The site was rescued from burial under the sludge of gravel-making machines in 1964 by the Department of Antiquities, although is mostly unrecognizable due to quarrying operations with its talus buried under tons of soil.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Lorraine Copeland; P. Wescombe (1965). Inventory of Stone-Age sites in Lebanon, p. 100-101. Imprimerie Catholique. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Zumoffen, G., La Phénicie avant les Phéniciens, Imprimerie Catholique, Beirut, 1900.
  3. ^ Day, A.E., The Rock Shelter of Ksar Akil near the Cave of Antilias, Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1926
  4. ^ Kuhn, Steven; Stiner, MC; Reese, DS; Güleç, E (2001). "Ornaments of the earliest Upper Paleolithic: New insights from the Levant". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 98 (13): 7641–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.121590798. PMC 34721Freely accessible. PMID 11390976. 
  5. ^ Douka, K. 2011. An Upper Palaeolithic shell scraper from Ksar Akil (Lebanon). Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2):429-437
  6. ^ Kuhn, Steven L., Stiner, Mary C., Reese, David S., Güleç, Erksin., Ornaments of the earliest Upper Paleolithic: New insights from the Levant, Edited by Henry C. Harpending, PNAS, June 5th 2001

Further reading[edit]

  • Braidwood, R., Wright, H. E., and Ewing, J.F., Ksar Akil, its Archaeological Sequence and Geological Setting., Journal of Near-Eastern Studies, Volume 10, 1951.
  • Ewing, J., Preliminary Note on the Excavations at the Paleolithic Site of Ksar Akil, Republic of Lebanon, Antiquity, vol. 21, p. 186, 1947.
  • Ewing, J., Human types and Prehistoric Cultures at Ksar Akil, Lebanon, Selected papers, 5th C.I.S.A.E., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1956.
  • Ewing, J., A Probably Neanderthaloid from Ksar Akil, Lebanon. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 21, Number 2, 1963.
  • Howell, F., Upper Pleistocene Stratigraphy and Early Man in the Levant, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 103, 1959.
  • Garrod, D., A Transitional Industry from the Base of the Upper Paleolithic in Palestine and Syria. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 81, 1952.
  • Garrod, D., The Relations between Southwest Asia and Europe in the Later Paleolithic Age, Journal of World History, Volume 1, 1953.
  • Wright, H.E., Late Pleistocene Geology of Coastal Lebanon, 3rd Symposium, Wenner-Grenn Foundation for Anthropological Research on "Early man and Pleistocene Stratigraphy in Circum-Mediterranean Regions", 1960.
  • Wright, H.E., Late Pleistocene Geology of Coastal Lebanon, Quaternaria, Volume 6, 1962.
  • Hooijer, D. A., The Fossil Vertebrates of Ksar Akil, a Paleolithic Rock-Shelter in the Lebanon, Zoloögische Verhandelgingen, 49, 1, 1961.
  • Field, H., Ancient and Modern Man in Southwestern Asia, Volume I, University of Miami Press, 1956.


  • Bergman, C.A. 1987. Ksar Akil, Lebanon: A Technological and Typological Analysis of the Later Palaeolithic Levels. Volume II. BAR International Series 329.
  • Bergman, C.A. and L. Copeland (eds.) 1986. I. Azoury Ksar Akil, Lebanon: A Technological and Typological Analysis of the Transitional and Early Upper Palaeolithic Levels of Ksar Akil and Abu Halka. Volume I. BAR International Series 289 (i and ii).
  • Leder, D. 2014. Technological and Typological change at the Middle to Upper Plaeolithic boundary in Lebanon. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie. Habelt Verlag.


  • Bergman, C.A. 2004. Twisted Debitage and the Levantine Aurignacian Problem. in A. Belfer-Cohen and A.N. Goring-Morris (eds.) More than Meets the Eye: Studies on Upper Palaeolithic Diversity in the Near East. Oxbow Press, Oxford: 185-195.
  • Ohnuma, K. and C.A. Bergman 1990. A technological study of the Upper Palaeolithic levels XXV-VI from Ksar Akil, Lebanon. in P. Mellars and C. Stringer (eds.) The Origins and Dispersal of Modern Man. Cambridge University Press: 91-138.
  • Bergman, C.A. and C.B. Stringer 1989. Fifty years after: Egbert, an Upper Palaeolithic Juvenile from Ksar Akil, Lebanon. Paléorient 15/2: 99-111.
  • Bergman, C.A. 1988. Ksar Akil and the Upper Palaeolithic of the Levant. "Préhistoire du Levant 2" Paléorient 14/2: 201-210.
  • Bergman, C.A. and N. Goring-Morris 1987. Conference: The Levantine Aurignacian with special reference to Ksar Akil, Lebanon. Paléorient 13/1: 142-145.
  • Bergman, C.A. 1987. Hafting and use of bone and antler points from Ksar Akil, Lebanon. in D. Stordeur (ed.) La Main et l'Outil. Travaux de la Maison de l’Orient Méditerranéen, Lyon 15: 117-126.
  • Bergman, C.A. and K. Ohnuma 1987. The Upper Palaeolithic Sequence of Ksar Akil, Lebanon. Berytus XXV: 13-40.
  • Leder, D. 2016. Core reduction strategies at the Initial Upper Palaeolithic sites Ksar Akil and Abou Halka in Lebanon. 'Lithics: the Journal of the Lithic Studies Society' 37: 33–53.

External links[edit]