Director General of the Department of Archaeology and Museums Bassam Jamous affirmed that humans inhabited Syria one million years ago on the banks of Orontes, Euphrates and the Great Northern River and later the Syrian Desert.
In a lecture on new archeological finds in Syria during the past ten years, Jamous pointed out that recent studies revealed that humans settled in al-Dedariya Cave north of Aleppo, central Syria, where human skeletons dating back to 100,000 years ago.
Over the past ten years, the Department of Archaeology and Museums documented over 10,000 archaeological sites across Syria, 600 of which date back to prehistory.
Jamous noted that recent discoveries prove that the first villages with circular houses were established during the 10th millennium BC in the middle Euphrates area and Jadet al-Magharra site in Aleppo countryside.
In Damascus Countryside, three sites were discovered: Tal Aswad, a-Ramad and Ghrefi. They contain several buildings indicating urban development dating back to the 7th millennium BC.
In 2010, the Department announced the discovery of a village called "al-Jerf al-Ahmar" on the banks of the Euphrates, which showed an example of a pictography predating hieroglyphs. The village contained circular houses without pillars that are still standing after 11,000 years.
In al-Balaas site in the desert of Hama, excavations uncovered the symbols of an eagle and an inverted pyramid, indicating the beginning of the use of abstract symbolism during the 10th millennium BC.
Jamous pointed out to the diverse artistic aesthetics found in ancient Syrian cultures as shown by a floor mosaic and basalt tablets bearing various carved symbols found in al-Abar site in the Euphrates basin.
In the Haloula area, a red painting depicting dancing women dating back to the 7th millennium BC was uncovered. Recently discovered burial chambers in Palmyra contain 2000 year-old murals depicting women in ritualistic scenes.
Other excavations uncovered statues bearing the names of their owners on their shoulders.
Jamous said that there are more than 60 archaeological excavations working in various sites to uncover the history of Homo erectus (an extinct prehistoric hominid).
He went on to note that the Department will establish several new museums, including a mosaic museum on the highway between Hama and Aleppo, adding that Syria won the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for archaeological parks for the Dora site in Deir Ezzor.
Jamous concluded by saying that the Department is working on including several of Syria's archaeological sites on the World Heritage List such as Amrit city, Simeon Stylites Monastery and Suleiman Keep, in addition to eight archaeological villages in Aleppo and Idleb.
Sabbagh, H. 2011. "Archaeologists: Human Settlement in Syria Dates Back to One Million Years". Global Arab Network. Posted: January 17, 2011. Available online:http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/201101178685/Travel/archaeologists-human-settlement-in-syria-dates-back-to-one-million-years.html