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  • Recent progress in radiocarbon dating for the prehistoric archaeology of Upper Mesopotamia(Proceedingsof the 17^<th> Symposium on Researches Using the Tandetron AMS System at Nagoya University in 2004)

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Following a brief review of the history of applications of radiocarbon dating technology to the Middle Eastern archaeology in general, this paper addresses new data for the oldest pottery of Upper Mesopotamia. Proto-Hassuna pottery is generally thought to represent the oldest Pottery Neolithic entity of Upper Mesopotamia, starting from around 6900 cal. BC. However, the ongoing excavations at the Neolithic site of Tell Seker al-Aheimar, Northeast Syria, yielded a new group of pottery assemblages clearly preceding the Proto-Hassuna, with radiocarbon dates indicating its use for a period of ca. 6900-6600 cal. BC. The dates are in fact those previously assigned to the Proto-Hassuna, which raise a serious question to the current consensus in the literature. Then charcoal samples from the Proto-Hassuna sites of Telul eth-Thalathat (Iraq) and Tell Kashkashok (Syria), kept at the University of Tokyo Museum, were sent for laboratory analysis, which resulted in producing dates covering a period of ca. 6600-6300 cal. BC. These new dates lead to revision of the chronology of the oldest phases of Pottery Neolithic in Upper Mesopotamia: the phase defined at Tell Seker al-Aheimar, instead of the Proto-Hassuna, should be now considered the oldest Pottery Neolithic in this region.



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