Lebanon in History from the Earliest Times to the Present

By Philip K. Hitti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV IN PRE-LITERARY TIMES

By its location, climate and native products Western Asia provided an ideal environment for human development. Here wild grasses, including wheat and barley, wild animals, including sheep, goats and cows -- all adaptable to domestication -- flourished. Here flint, iron and other hard and workable substances were available for utilization in basic industry. What more agreeable home could the primitive man, as he struggled for a higher level, have wished for? In this area, the meeting- place of the three historic continents, he laid the crude basis of his agricultural, industrial and intellectual life and started on his arduous upward course toward self-realization. A modern archaeologist calls Western Asia "the nursery of Homo sapiens".1 Lebanon is a focal point in this area.

Archaeological finds leave no doubt about the continued occupation of this region by man throughout man's existence. Profusely scattered stone implements, including some of the earliest known types, attest man's presence, probably in small groups, spread all over the region and over an inestimable period of time.

As we endeavour to catch our first glimpse of this prehistoric man, he eludes us as a person but the traces he left in cave deposits or surface-finds tell his story. These traces take the form of stone implements. The earliest extant tools and weapons he used were large pear-shaped, roughly chipped pieces of stone, trimmed flat on opposite sides or faces; hence the name bifaces. Unlike hand-axes, by which name they were formerly called, bifaces are pointed. Such tools have been found all the way from the Jordan River bed in the south to Ra's al-Shamrah (Ugarit) in the north. By their edges they were used for cutting and chopping branches of wood, cracking skulls or scraping.

Old Stone Age

____________________
1
Henry Field in Studies Presented to David Moore Robinson, ed. George E. Mylonas , vol. i ( St. Louis, 1951), p. 236.

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