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Chercheur associé


Archeology - Syria

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Research topics





Tell 'Abr 3, Social space and symbolic space of a village between 11500 and 10700 years ago

The transition from foraging to farming had profound consequences for our species, ultimately resulting in the emergence of large-scale complex societies. The precise mechanisms and causes, and the consequences for the communities that engaged in the adoption of farming remain obscure. In the Fertile Crescent of SW Asia, the first steps to farming took place during the early Holocene. While the emergence of sedentary farming societies formed part of a long-term process, the time span between 10000-8500 BC cal represents a particularly important period with the appearance of the earliest known substantial sedentary settlements, the adoption of grain cultivation, and people’s changing relationships with the animal species that were eventually domesticated. Vital questions addressed by this project are the socioeconomic practices and ideologies of these early village communities, and how they were constituted across the varied cultural and ecological contexts of SW Asia during this period. What kinds of social and ideological changes accompanied these developments which paved the way for the socioeconomic transformation commonly labeled as the "Neolithic Revolution".
Between 2000 and 2010 I was fortunate enough to have directed the excavations at an exceptional site on the Syrian northern Euphrates, Tell ‘Abr 3, in collaboration with the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums of Damascus. We have carried out five seasons of excavation during which we discovered an early agricultural settlement comprising several buildings with exceptionally well preserved evidence relating to domestic practices, household structure, plant and animal management practices, other landscape practices such as raw material procurement and movement, and also a particularly exciting repertoire of evidence relating to ritual and symbolism.
Tell ‘Abr 3 is the pillar of this project, one of the rare archeological sites dating to the earliest phases of the Holocene. This key stage of the Neolithic transition is of prime importance to the understanding of human (pre)history.

Activities / Resume


Thaer YARTAH is an archaeologist, associated researcher at Archéorient, CNRS and University Lyon 2. (UMR 5133), Maison de l'Orient à Lyon.
Director of excavations at the site of Tell ' Abr 3 on the Euphrates, northern Syria between 2000 and 2010.
He worked on the material from the site for his PhD in 2013, University Lumière Lyon 2. Faculty of Art History and Archaeology. Topic: 'Daily life, community and symbolic life at Tell ' Abr3 - northern Syria, new data and new reflection on the PPNA horizon, northern Levant 10 000 to 9 000 BP.'
Between 2006 and 2011, he was Head of the Department of Prehistory in the Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in Syria as well as Director of Scientific Affairs, Department of Antiquities and Museums of Aleppo, Syria.


  • YARTAH T. (2017) – Typologie de bâtiments communautaires à Tell 'Abr 3 (PPNA) en Syrie du Nord NEO-LITHICES, vol 2/16 pp. 29-49.
  • YARTAH T. (2010) – Les images symboliques dans les premiers villages agricoles, Mahed al-hadarat, Revue de la Direction générale des antiquités et des musées (Syrie), Numéro 11 et 12, pp. 109-129 (article publié en arabe).
  • YARTAH T. (2010) - « Tell ‘Abr 3, nouvelles données sur le plan symbolique des premiers agriculteurs ». Adiyat Halab. An annual book to the study of arabic sciences and syrian archeology. Vol. 3/4. Issued by Aleppo University and al-Adiyat society. pp. 26-42. (Article publié en Arabe).
  • YARTAH T. (2007) - Tell Abr 3, Village agricole (10 000 ans av.J-C), Mahed al hadarat, Revue de la Direction Générale des antiquités et des Musées, Numéro 2 pp.15-26 (Article publié en Arabe).
  • YARTAH T. (2005) - Les bâtiments communautaires de Tell ‘Abr 3 (PPNA, Syrie), NEO-LITHICES, vol 1/05 pp. 3-8.
  • YARTAH T. (2004) - Tell ‘Abr3 a village from ninth millennium B.C, a symbolic and agricultural revolution. Raising Syria n°5 August/september, pp. 6-17.
  • YARTAH T. (2004) - Tell ‘Abr 3, un village du néolithique précéramique (PPNA) sur le moyen Euphrate première approche, paléorient, vol 30/2.pp. 141-158.
  • YARTAH T. (2002) - Emmanchement De Pointes De Fleches Khiamiennes De Syrie Du Nord. In : Bourguignon L., Ortega I., Frere-Sautot M., Prehistoire Et Approche Experimentale. Editions Monique Mergoil, Montagnac, (Prehistoire 5), Pp. 281-292.
  • MAZUROWSKI R.F., and YARTAH T. (2001) - Tell Qaramel. Excavations 2001. In: Gawlikowski M. And Daszewski W.A (Eds), Polish Archeology in The mediterranean. XIII Reports 2001: 307.Warsaw University, Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archeology,pp.294-307.
  • STORDEUR D., BRENET M., YARTA T. (2000) - Jerf el Ahmar. Un site néolithique englouti sous un lac de barrage. Une opération de sauvetage du patrimoine. In : WEYER A. (éd.), Rettung des Kulturerbes. Projekte rund ums Mittelmeer / Sauvetage du patrimoine culturel. Projets autour de la Méditerranée. Hambourg : Glöss Verlag, pp. 85-100.