La “Nécropole Énéolithique” de Byblos Nouvelles Interprétations
by Gassia Artin. 219 pages; illustrated throughout with figures, maps, plans, drawings and photographs. In French with English abstract. BAR S1993 2009. ISBN 9781407305271. £40.00 (No VAT).
The Chalcolithic Period of the Levant constitutes an important and complex phase in the evolution of prehistoric societies. Certain ‘prehistoric’ traditions such as the production and use of lithic tools, continued as new technical advancements were developed in stone tool production and, metallurgy. For this author, Byblos (40 km north of Beirut on the Lebanese coast) was an obvious choice for revisiting the Levantine Chalcolithic. Besides being the largest and most thoroughly excavated site (almost 70 % of the site has been excavated), the settlement features a variety of architecture comprising dwellings, houses, silos and paved roads, and an exceptionally rich and varied corpus of burials and grave artefacts (2097 tombs in total including 2059 jar burials with 3652 objects). Despite the remarkable quality of the eneolithic material, the necropolis remains relatively unknown. Statistical, qualitative, and spatial analyses of the data are modest, making past interpretations and syntheses either too general or too incomplete to be of any value to the archaeological community. To undertake an exhaustive study of the fourth millennium layers of Byblos, it was vital to examine the archives from the original excavations, including all the unpublished data. In this way, the mass of information from the past was critically re-evaluated when necessary. At the same time, the different terminologies were also standardised. This re-evaluation allowed for the confirmation or reconsideration of past hypotheses, and when appropriate, the creation of new ones. The main sections of this study include: Research methodology; Site sectorization and organization; Funerary practices; Grave finds and analyses; Socio-economic organization and development.