First Published: 2006-10-05

Archaeologists find millennia-old building in Syria

Remarkable discovery of site dates back to 8,800 BC, retains oldest painted decorations known in Middle East.


Middle East Online

'Bucrania', on the banks of the Euphrates

DAMASCUS - Archaeologists said Tuesday that they have discovered an 11-millennium-old building on the banks of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.

"A remarkable discovery has just been uncovered of a large circular building dating back to 8,800 BC near [the locality of] Ja'de," the head of the French archaeological team that made the find said.

The building, much larger than normal houses, "had a collective use, probably for all of the village or a group," Eric Coqueugniot said. "A part of this community building takes the shape of the head of a bull and retains painted decorations, the oldest known in the Middle East," he said.

"The multi-colored geometrical paintings" that decorate the building would be displayed at the museum of Aleppo, in northern Syria, he added. "Many hunting weapons, domestic tools ... were discovered at this level. The majority of these tools are made of flint and very few are of obsidian [volcanic stone]," he said.

Coqueugniot heads the team of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France's largest scientific establishment, which has led the excavation work at the site for the past 15 years.


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