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The rock-shelter II of Yabroud is one of several concavities that are located along the northern rim of the Skifta dry valley in Syria where 60km northeast of Damascus, the Ouadi Skifta cuts into the Eocene limestone plateau of Central Syria at 1400 m.a.s.l.

Rock-shelter II opens to the southeast. The shelter was used as a gravesite in Byzantine times and tombs had been cut into the back wall behind the drip-line. Rust excavated a 4x5m area in the western part of the shelter that still contained undisturbed deposits. Rust asserted that his excavation area reached the main occupation area of rock-shelter II as only sporadic Palaeolithic finds appeared in an adjoining test trench across the main hall. Several small test pits dug between 1964-1965 confirmed this assertion (Solecki & Solecki 1966).

The sedimentological sequence is 3m thick and in the lower part, shows a succession of coarse-grained sediment layers with large limestone debris (layers 10 to 7). At ca. 1 m below surface, the sediments are getting finer. This change in sediments is tentatively correlated with a technological change from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic (Pastoors et al. 2008). All of the deposits contain repeated human activities inside the shelter as evidenced by a high density of lithic artefacts and ash concentrations.

The cultural sequence covers Middle Palaeolithic assemblages from Layers 10 to 7, followed by a possible “transitional” assemblage in Layer 6 (Pastoors et al. 2008). The Upper Palaeolithic ranges from Layers 5 to 1. Originally, Rust attributed the upper sequence to different stages of the Aurignacian (Rust 1950). With growing knowledge of the Levantine Upper Palaeolithic and its complexity, opinions of how to correlate the Yabroud II sequence with different phases of the Levantine Upper Palaeolithic diverged (Schyle 1992; Belfer-Cohen & Goring-Morris 2003; Kuhn 2003; Bretzke & Conard 2012). While Layer 5 is of clear Ahmarian type, the correlation of Layer 4 with any of the known Upper Palaeolithic complexes is still a matter of debate. Some researchers classify this assemblage as Early Ahmarian (Schyle 1992; Kuhn 2003) while others believe that it belongs to the Levantine Aurignacian (Belfer-Cohen & Goring-Morris 2003). In fact, Layer 4 contains Ahmarian elements (e.g. dominance of blades/bladelets, presence of El Wad points) as well as Aurignacian features (presence of carinated pieces, high number of twisted blades/bladelets). In this respect, the techno-typological profile of Yabroud II Layer 4 matches Ksar Akil Phase 3 which is found sandwiched between two typical Ahmarian phases (Phases 2 and 4) (Williams and Bergman 2010).


A. Pastoors/G. C. Weniger/J. Kegler, The Middle - Upper Palaeolithic transition at Yabroud II (Syria). A re-evaluation of the lithic material from the Rust excavation. Paléorient 34, 2, 2008, 47-66.

T. Hauck/M. Dominina/J. Cetinkaya/C. Molden, Yabroud II – Layer 4. A new dataset and chaîne opératoire reconstruction for the early Upper Palaeolithic. Onlinepublication.

Yabroud II, Layer 4 Dataset. dx.doi.org/10.5880/SFB806.6