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Babkhal caves

typeplace

map36.700, 44.466

Babkhal is one of a group of shelters overlooking Havdian village, in the spur of the Baradost ridge rising immediately north of Havdian village.

Babkhal was the most open of all shelters examined by Braidwood and Howe, with its deposit lying immediately at the foot of a nearby vertical cliff and extending into the rock only about a meter beyond its overhand; it was more like a sheltered open-air site. Water was available immediately around the corner of the base of the spur. Babkhal had two archaeological levels: the earliest, a Mousterian type flint flake-tool assemblage, like that from Hazar Merd and other caves; and a later level with Zarzian-type blade-tool mixed with both earlier and later materials.

Braidwood and Howe observed at Havdian a practice which may explain the lack of archaeological debris within some larger shelters like Barak and Hajiyah:

The large Havdian shelter looks down over the village and is in the part of the spur which fronts immediately on the Diayana plain, the smaller Bakhal shelter being around the point of the spur to the west. As we approached Havdian village at the time our tests were to begin, we were surprised to see smoke pouring out of the big Havdian shelter. On arrival at the shelter we were told by the inhabitants that the year's layer of sheep and goat dung on the floor of the inner chamber was being burned off. The whole floor on the inside was aglow with a blue flame. It was not clear whether the purpose was simply to clean the floor or whether some notion of heating the rock for the winter was not involved as well. We were told that, when the fire had burned out, the floor would be scraped and the rough screen wall across most of the shelter front would be repaired so that the sheep and goats could be kept there for the coming winter. If such burning and scraping had gone on for millenniums, they would explain why little archaeological debris is left in some of the more commodious shelters. A later sounding at the threshold of the big Havdian shelter was entirely unproductive, although microliths had been reported from the talus slope below (Field, 1956, p. 15). (Braidwood and Howe 1960, p 30)