Nemrik 9 is one of the most important sites for the early Neolithic in the eastern arm of the Fertile Crescent. The round building structures found at this site resemble those of Qermez Dere, but there are also many cultural parallels with sites further north like Hallan Çemi, Körtik Tepe, and the early layers of Jerf el Ahmar.
In order to define the chronological and cultural dynamics in this region, it is very important to compare the chronology of Nemrik 9 to that of the other sites. This task is complicated by many difficulties, of which three are:
1)The site of Nemrik 9 has been dated by only one laboratory, and thus a verification of the results is not possible.
2)The excavator dismissed 27 of the 60 dates as inconsistent with his subdivision of phases (cf. Watkins et al. 1989:23).
3)Twenty dates of the remaining 33 have deviations larger than +/- 150, which leaves only 13 of the original 60 dates for calibration.
The dates the excavator considered too young or too old (marked with a plus behind the lab number), have been retained for the present analysis, unless they differed too much from the other dates.
The calibration shows that the dates of nearly all the phases overlap in the 10th, 9th and 8th millenium. Thus a good correlation with the relative succession is not given. Only the dates of Phase IV tend to be younger; but because the dates of the 8th millennium were all considered too young by the excavator, there would be no chronological difference from Phase IV to III. Obviously, building activities on the site have caused massive dislocations of the strata.
On the basis of the radiocarbon dates, an early occupational phase between 9800-9400 BC can be postulated. There are also five earlier dates indicating to a time horizon between 11100-10000 BC. A second phase can be dated to about 9200-8600 BC and a third to 8500-8270 BC.The el-Khiam points of House 1A indicate that it probably dates to the first or second occupational phases and therefore is older than the PPNB.
It remains an open question whether House 1B should be dated to the Younger Dryas and in consequence to an Epipalaeolithic context or – if one assumes a fast succession of building phases – to a period after the Younger Dryas. The absence of El-Khiam points is no argument for an Epipalaeolithic context, as only two examples of this type of point were found. In addition, the small number of microliths, as well as the few changes in the lithic tools would, favour a date at the end of, or after, the Younger Dryas (Kozlowski, Szymaczak 1992:77-79).
Gd 4207: 8700 +/- 100 BP of the fill of House 1A and Gd 5110: 7470 +/- 60 BP for the youngest layer are now rejected by the excavator (vgl. Kozlowski 1989:9-10; 1994).
There is only one date, Gd 4365: 8610-8220 BC, that ends after 8270 BC.
The danger of such a chrono-typological argument is that, if single elements are isolated for the chronological attribution, it becomes a case of circular reasoning. For example, if by definition PPNB sites are those without El-Khiam points, then it is impossible to find a PPNB site that has El-Khiam points. This danger can only be avoided by absolute dates. The absence of El-Khiam points in House 1B is therefore no reason to date it to the Natufian instead of the Khiamian. However, some of the radiocarbon dates in fact clearly point to a Younger Dryas context.