Karkom, Mount

An update to Vol. 3, pp. 850–851.

By Emmanuel Anati


The site of Mount Karkom was excavated by E. Anati during the 1990s. Its archaeological remains include Bronze Age altars and shrines on the mountain plateau and stone-built foundations of Bronze Age habitation sites at its foot. The site appears to have served as a cult place in the late fourth and third millennia BCE, and perhaps as early as the Paleolithic period. The cultic role of the mountain appears to have ceased during the second millennium BCE, a consequence of drought.


SITE REMAINS. During the 1990 season, an early Upper Paleolithic site (HK 86B) was uncovered on Mount Karkom, including an area where several large flint boulders had been erected. Early man selected and brought to this spot 42 natural stones with vaguely anthropomorphic shapes. Only a few of these showed signs of having been worked by human hands. If indeed this impressive site had a social and cultic function, it may be the earliest shrine known in the Near East, probably over 30,000 years old. The lithic industry at this site, like that of seven other sites on the plateau, is characterized by an early blade industry with a strong persistence of Levallois flaking technique. It has been defined as belonging to the Karkomian industry, which is regarded as an initial phase of the Upper Paleolithic. Later Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic phases have thus far appeared only sporadically.

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