The colloquial Arabic term nāri has become, since the late 1890s, the most commonly used term for describing a specific type of calcrete formation in the Levant. While it is reasonable to expect that such a long period of time would be sufficient for the establishment of a coherent use of the term, a combination of extensive literature reviews with field observations prove otherwise. A study of the geological contexts and etymology of the term nāri and a review of literature back as far as the second half of the nineteenth century reveal a great lack of consistency among scientists' use of the term. Correlating the terminological evolution of nāri with present-day understanding of its formation mechanisms, its stratigraphic associations and contemporary uses of the term among scientists and local Arabs, allows us to propose a clear and consistent definition of nāri. Our suggested definition recognizes it as a distinct surficial lithology. We show that the formation of nāri in the Levant started in a regional calcretisation event in the late Pliocene to mid Pleistocene and is ongoing in the Levant nowadays.

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