Neo-Lithics

Publications
In April and May of 1999, the Wadi Ziqlab Project began excavation of a large, stratified site (WZ 120), west of the spring of 'Ain Jahjah. The site had been brought to our attention after the construction of fish tanks cut into it in the mid-1980s, sectioning a low tell to reveal architectural remains, plaster floors and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B artifacts. Closer examination of the bulldozer section in 1995 showed numerous Late PPNB artifacts in the lower part of this section, few sherds with Yarmoukian decoration, and Early Bronze I sherds on the surface above the cut. The site documents stratigraphically a succession of components spanning the period from Late PPNB to Early Bronze I.
 
For the second time Neo-Lithics is publishing a thematic issue. The dialogue on The Early Neolithic Origin of Ritual Centers is a challenge in two directions. It suggests on the one hand that there were no ritual centers in the Near East before the Early Neolithic, and it also implies that the centralized Near Eastern ritual is rooted in the Early Neolithic. We are well aware what evidence is neglected by this formulation of the topic, both for the non-Neolithic periods as well as for the Neolithic itself. We took this risk for the sake of provoking a diversity of arguments. Therefore we organized a forum for as many different views as possible. We wish to thank all participants for their effort and commitment. We regret that we were unable to receive more contributions from colleagues specialized in the Chalcolithic, or from historians of religion. Nevertheless, we consider this dialogue a starting point for further discussion of ritual cen-trality and of centrality vs. ritual practice. We may recall that until recently the topic was not appreciated much by many Near Eastern archaeologists. But evidence became overwhelming, and we had to redirect the debate from site-bound levels onto the Near Eastern research agenda. This includes a call to the Ancient Near Eastern research disciplines to extend their origin discussion of city and state-based ritual to the Neolithic periods.
 
Danielle Stordeur started the rescue excavations at Jerf el Ahmar in 1995, co-directed by her Syrian colleague Bassam Jamous. Only four years later, in 1999, flooding of the Tishrin Dam put an ultimate end to the archaeological fieldwork. Publications of the impressive subterranean communal buildings as well as of archaeobotanical remains forced the reconsideration of former interpretations of Neolithic architecture and proved the importance of the site for the transition to sedentary farming communities. They foreshadowed the site’s high relevance adding to the expectations for a final publication of the settlement. Danielle Stordeur exceeds these expectations. With her new publication "Le village de Jerf el Ahmar – L’architecture, miroir d’une société néolithique complexe" Editions CNRS 2015, she sets the standard for archaeological publications on architectural development very high. She has chosen a publication format attractive for archaeologists as well as for an interested public.
 
Test excavations were carried in 2006 at TBAS 102, a Late Natufian site along the Wadi al-Qusayr in west-central Jordan. This fieldwork represents the initial investigation of this site and was carried out from May 21 to June 1. The excavation was part of a larger project designed to examine the transition from foraging to farming in the Wadi al-Hasa catchment system (Neeley and Peterson 2007). This included testing at both Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites in the region (e.g., Peterson 2007). The 2006 excavations as TBAS 102 yielded several interesting and significant findings. First, TBAS 102 represents the first radiometrically dated Late Natufian occupation in west-central Jordan. Second, the site is associated with marsh/wetland environments that have been key attractors for Late Pleistocene settlement elsewhere in west-central Jordan. And third, the presence of a Late Natufian occupation might facilitate a fuller understanding of the impact of the Younger Dryas in the steppic regions of west-central Jordan.
 
Season’s Progress and Research Questions Wall Damage Reports and Earthquake Evidence Building Stone Manufacturing and Building in Ba`ja Enigma Sounding 1 of Area A. Resumed Excavations Sounding 1 of Area A. The Chipped Lithics Test Unit 9a-c in Area G: Capturing the FPPNB/ PPNC Occupation Continued Excavations in Area D The Mural of Room DR26.2. Reappraising Extension and Preservation Continued Excavations in Room CR28 Rooms CR5 and CR6: Interfering Ritual and Domestic Evidence The Hoard of Locus CR5:45. A Biography of Mixing Ritual and Domestic Contexts Continued Excavation of Collective Burial Remains in Room CR17 The Season’s Intramural Subadult Burials Extraction of Jamila`s Grave C1:46 Season’s Summary and Progressing Research Perspectives
 
The segregated setting of LPPNB Ba'ja. Vertical gorges and rocks delimited the site's area of ca. 1.2 ha. (photo: D. Kennedy)
The access to the LPPNB village of Ba'ja. climbing through a narrow gorge is the only suitable way to reach the intramontane setting of the site. (photo: H.G.K. Gebel, Ba'ja N.P.) Fig. 5 A reconstruction of the LPPNB village of Ba'ja: with central space and two-storied terraced housing on the locality's steep slopes (< 40°). Example of spatial aggregation processes characteristic for the Near East's early sedentism. (reconstruction: M. Kinzel, Ba'ja N.P.)
The well-preserved (> 4 m) domestic architecture in Ba'ja Area c. Note the terrace wall with three buttresses. (photo: M.Kinzel and c. Purschwitz, Ba'ja N.P.)
A preplanned domestic unit of the LPPNB village of Basta (Area B): Ground plan with rows of small rooms arranged along a central space and adjacent remains of other such units, indicating extended households. Buildings/room units resting on artificial terraces. No open spaces/lanes are found between the house units of this living quarter. (photo: Y. Zu'bi, Basta J.A.P.)
The specialized workshops' waste of sandstone ring production in LPPNB Ba'ja. The stone rings most likely are commodity coupons. (photo: H.G.K. Gebel, Ba'ja N.P.)
From its beginnings, the sedentism debate has suffered from a lack of definition frameworks and has been characterized by many ingredients of seminal world perceptions of individual scholars. Everywhere sedentism concepts failed to work when applied to understanding the supra-regional trajectories or specific regional mixtures of biotic, abiotic, and cognitive resources and their related socio-economic evolutions and devolutions. Especially research concentrating on the origins and causes of sedentism led to a problematic ignorance of how different and failure-loaded sedentism established over millennia in the Near East. The increasing number and complexity of archaeobiological data made sedentism a problematic approach to and concept for understanding Neolithic processes. Instead, a Neolithic territoriality approach is offered here as a future explanatory framework, enabling to identify in a more multi-conceptual way the various types of early sedentism in the Near East, and to guide research to a more basic and holistic understanding. Since the many types of early Near Eastern sedentism were not only the result of interacting elements in a polycentric process of Neolithic evolutions, imbalances, and set-backs, but also based on the new Neolithic human ethos and its commodification modes introducing a “productive” relationship between the plant/animal and human territories while reducing biodiversities, it is imperative to add ethological, territoriality, and commodification research to the needed re-definition of the Near Eastern Neolithization. The ideas presented here on the linked and ever-shifting sedentism/mobility systems of the Near East’s Early Holocene are much influenced by sites from the southern Levant. This contribution presents a general perspective on early Near Eastern sedentism, offering it – according to the conference’s concept – for the global comparison of sedentism. Therefore, it addresses the academic readership working on sedentarization processes in other parts of the world, by approaching the topic in summarizing and concluding ways. However, researchers of the Near Eastern Neolithic may find in this contribution substantially new perceptions on its sedentism trajectory, too.
 
Becoming sedentary is considered a decisive threshold in the progress from foraging to farming (e.g. Dunbar 2013). In this article we present the stratigraphy of one early Holocene dwelling at Körtik Tepe, southeastern Turkey (37°48ʼ51.90ʼʼN, 40°59’02ʼʼE), which not only provides evidence for a strong territorial commitment to the tell but it also suggests year-round sedentism. Additionally, micro-morphological analyses of three soil samples from inside this building provide invaluable information concerning the fabrication of a pristine form of textile.
 
Kharaysin is a Pre-Pottery Neolithic site located in the village of Quneya, in the Zarqa River valley, over 25 ha in size and dating from the 9th millennium cal BC. Two occupation levels have been documented. In excavation area IJ100, two oval semi-sunken houses with plaster floors were excavated; these dated from the beginning of the 9th millennium cal BC, the late phase of the PPNA. Over this architectural level, a straight stone wall and a burial correspond to the beginning of the Middle PPNB, at the end of the 9th millennium cal BC. Further south, down the slope of the site, in trenches CDEFG-55 and TUVX-60, a Middle PPNB occupation has also been documented, with rectangular buildings built on the surface, stone walls and plastered floors. In Area U60, paintings were discovered on the plastered floor of one building. Bipolar technology, Jericho and Amuq points and bent sickle blades are observed in the Middle PPNB occupation phase. The PPNA material culture, which is still poorly documented, seems to be characterized by unipolar knapping, blades with double pairs of notches and decorated grooved stones.
 
Location of Naaal Roded 110 (white asterix; red triangles: "Rodedian" sites recorded to date in the Eilat Region). (Map: M. Birkenfeld) Location of Naaal Roded 110 (white asterix; red triangles: "Rodedian" sites recorded to date in the Eilat Region). (Map: M. Birkenfeld)
Har Assa (Eilat Mountains):Typical pair of low stone installations -an elongated cell pointing to a circle (scales: 0.5m). (Photo: U. Avner)
This paper presents a unique modified limestone object recovered from the LPPNB site of Nahal Roded 110, located deep within the arid Negev Desert. Carved to form an oval with a central elongated perforation, the stone was decorated with incised meanders, encircling both faces and representing, in our view, a unique 3D representation of a snake/snakes. Drawing on previous Near Eastern Neolithic as well as global symbolism and mythologies, we present in this paper a discussion of the stone’s shape and the image it carries, suggesting a possible symbolic link between the two as relating to concepts of cyclicity and seasonality. This meaning is further emphasized by other finds from the site. Together they provide an exceptional window into the lesser-known symbolic world of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Levantine desert communities.
 
Top-cited authors
Oliver Dietrich
  • Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt
Klaus Schmidt
  • Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
Israel Hershkovitz
  • Tel Aviv University
Marion Benz
Omry Barzilai
  • Israel Antiquities Authority