PPND - the Platform for Neolithic Radiocarbon Dates


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The radiocarbon dates of Nevalı Çori[1] can be separated into three main sets of dates that attest to three occupational phases which do not overlap with each other in the 1-σ range. In the following, these chronological phases will be indicated by arabic numerals. Roman numerals signify the architectural phases (Hauptmann 1997:131-133).

The earliest chronological Phase 1 centres between 8500 BC and 8340 BC.[2] Phase 2 starts at about 8300 BC and lasts until around 8000 BC. Three additional dates document an occupation after 7900 until about 7600.[3] There is only one date that might point to a late PPNB reoccupation. Such a reoccupation is also documented by the lithic tools (Schmidt 1988:181).

All Hd-dates (Heidelberg) for which a rough stratigraphic context has been published (I/II) (Hauptmann 1999,78), range in the early settlement Phase 1. Burial 89, originally attributed to Level II, also dates into this early phase. The relative sequence of the early building levels thus corresponds quite well with the radiocarbon  dated phases: House 21A and House 25 were attributed to building level I. The radiocarbon dates of the burials in these houses support the stratigraphy. According to the radiocarbon dates, House 25 continued to be used in Phase 2, whereas House 21 A was probably replaced by 21B (s. Hauptmann 1999:Fig.1,2).

The other radiocarbon dates are only roughly consistent with the stratigraphy. From building level IIIA/B onwards, the correlation of the stratigraphy  with the radiocarbon dates is less clear.

According to the radiocarbon dates, burial 55 (House 2, room 10, pit 22), attributed to building level IIIA, would date to Phase 1. Two dates from pits of Phase III-V are probably too old and can be explained as disturbed material from older layers. The radiocarbon dates from burial 76 of House 7, attributed to level IIIA, and from two burials in House 25 (burials 81 and 90), attributed to level II and I respectively, would all date to Phase 2.

Burials 61 (House 2, room 8) and 72, attributed to levels IIIA and IIIB, respectively, all date to Phase 3, the most recent.

According to the stratigraphy House 1 should be younger than House 2. Indeed, the earliest date of House 2, derived from pit 22, falls into the range of Phase 1; but the youngest date of House 2 (burial 61) points to Phase 3. As the radiocarbon date for House 1 clearly falls into Phase 2, the low date of burial 61 is either aberrant or the burial had been dug down from the floor of House 1.

But it is not only the low date of House 2 that causes problems: the early date of burial 55 of House 2 can hardly be correlated with the stratigraphy because House 7, attributed to “Schicht 3”, should be older than burial 55 of house 2. But it is just the other way around.

Due to these inconsistencies, the interpretation of these dates must await the publication of the detailed stratigraphy. It would be interesting to know whether House 2 was occupied as a dwelling and a burial site for a longer time than the other houses or whether within a relatively short time within Phase 1 an exceptionally high number of burials were deposited in this house, meaning that the youngest date would be in fact aberrant.

Notwithstanding these difficulties in interpretation, House 2, and especially room 10, probably had a special function as a burial place. This is indicated by the boar and the fragment of limestone vessel found in it, which were probably funeral objects used in burial rites (Hauptmann 1988:103). The turtle that seems to be depicted on this vessel recalls the burial rites of Körtik Tepe, where tortoise shells were found in graves of some individuals (www.kortiktepe.com/grave.html).

Because of these chronological problems, it remains an open question whether or not the different burial rites found on this site can be explained by chronology alone.

[1] We are very grateful to Harald Hauptmann, Günter Mansfeld and Klaus Schmidt for their kind support in our search for the remaining human bones of Nevalı Çori and for the generous access to their unpublished field notes.

[2]∑ Phase 1: 8550-8430 BC; Phase 2: 8310-8170 (45.8%); 8120-7980 (22.4%); Phase 3: 7940-7890 (6.8%); 7850-7580 (61.4%).

[3] The bone sample, KIA 14759: 8213+/-132, was not calibrated for the present compilation, as it is much younger than all the other dates. Another young date, KIA 14763: 8381 +/-157, was not calibrated because of its high standard deviation.

[4] Hd 16784-768 was not calibrated because of its large deviation of +/- 224. It is also aberrant because of its early date (Bischoff et al. 2006; Morsch 2002:147).

14C Dates

 Code  BP Dev. Δ13C Location material References
Hd 16781-835 9261 181 I/II ? Morsch 2002
Hd 16782-351 9243 55 I/II Cereal Morsch 2002; Grupe, Peters 2008
Hd16783-769 9212 76 I/II Cereal Morsch 2002; Grupe, Peters 2008.
Hd16784-768 9882 224 III-V (?) (area H5, pit 277) www.canew.org
KIA 14756 9263 42 III-V (area H5, pit 277, NC 0108) B (animal) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
KIA 14757 9020 41 III-V (area G4/5, House 1, NC 0107) B (animal) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
KIA 14758 8864 48 III-V (area F7, pit 291, NC 0106) B (animal) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
KIA 14759 8213 132 III-V (area H4N, pit 278, spit 29, NC 0105) www.canew.org
KIA 14760 9100 43 III-V (area F5, pit 217, NC 0104) B (animal) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
KIA 14761 8778 46 III-V (area F5, pit 176, NC 0103) B (animal) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
KIA 14762 9207 43 III-V (area G7, pit 314, NC 0102) B (animal) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
KIA 14763 8381 157 III-V (area F5, pit 249, NC 0101) www.canew.org
OxA 8234 8930 60 II (burial 81, area FG 5, house 25, room 2) B (human) www.canew.org
OxA 8235 9180 60 I (burial 89, area G8, house 25. B (human) www.canew.org
OxA 8236 8960 60 I (burial 90, area G8, house 25, room 2 B (human) www.canew.org
OxA 8247 8610 90 IIIB (burial 72, area G5, house 6, roomo 4, wall 6). B (human) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
OxA 8302 9205 55 IIIA (burial 55, area G4/76-77, house 2, room 10, pit 22). www.canew.org
OxA 8303 9280 55 I (burial 86, area FG5, house 21A, room 4. B (human) www.canew.org
OxA 8381 8710 100 IIIA (burial 61, area G4, house 2, room 8) B (human) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008
OxA 8382 8990 90 IIIA (burial 76, area FG6, house 7, room 9). B (human) www.canew.org; Grupe, Peters 2008



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Fig. 1 Compliation of the radiocarbon dates from Nevali Çori, arranged by chronological phases and stratigraphic succession.

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