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Abstract

Six seasons of excavations between 1982 and 1989 at the Neolithic site of 'Ain Ghazal in central Jordan have sampled only a small area of the huge settlement, but the amounts of information recovered from the site have required that the Neolithic sequence in the southern Levant be reassessed. Clear changes in the size of the settlement, architecture, lithic typology and technology, ceramic manufacture, subsistence economy, and ritual and symbolic behavior are documented for 'Ain Ghazal's four occupational phases (Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, Pre-Pottery Neolithic C, and Yarmoukian Pottery Neolithic). These phases span an unbroken occupation period from ca. 7250 to 5000 b.c. Earlier hypotheses that climatic deterioration caused a dramatic abandonment of the southern Levant by 6000 b.c. are unwarranted. Instead, we conclude that not. all the area was abandoned, and that severe changes in settlement patterns in Palestine and the Jordan Valley were primarily due to cultural degradation of the fragile ecological system.
... In recent years, intensive archaeological excavations on both sides of the Jordan River have provided new information on the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B as well as on the transition to the Pottery Neolithic periods (Garfinkel 1994;Gopher 1995;Rollefson 1993Rollefson , 1998Rollefson , 2003Rollefson , 2020Rollefson and Simmons 1988;Rollefson et al. 1992 (Khalaily et al. 2007;Khalaily and Vardi 2020;Vardi et al. 2020). Based on well-dated lithic assemblages, the material culture of these stages can be investigated in detail and the changes it underwent, especially of formal tools such as arrowheads and sickle blades, can be pinpointed. ...
Conference Paper
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Arrowheads are one of the diagnostic tool types that allow us to attribute lithic assemblages to particular phases of the Neolithic. They can be separated based on the stylistic features of each arrowhead as well as on the frequency with which they appear within the assemblage. During the ongoing major excavations of the mega-site of Motza, Israel, thousands of arrowheads were unearthed representing all phases of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN). Additionally, to a typological and technological study, a sample of 300 arrowheads from the Early, Middle and Final PPNB and PPNC period are scanned using three-dimensional (3D) technology for morpho-metric analysis. The study aims to compare between 3D analysis and classic typology in order to gain a better definition of intermediate types and unidentified fragments. The sample was analyzed using computer software and the results were plotted and classified using a cluster-tree analysis. The main branches of the cluster-tree show a strong concordance to the seriation scheme of the PPNB. Some deviations between the computer and human-made typology may be the result of a so far unidentified morphological feature that can be detected only by the 3D analysis.
... Therefore, it is suggested that these practices were abandoned in the PN period. However, a few specimens were uncovered in the Late PPN in some sites such in Abu Hureyra (2C) (Moore and Molleson 2000), Ba`ja (Gebel andHermansen 2000, 2001), and Ain Ghazal (Rollefson, Simmons and Kafafi 1992) and in the PN sites such as Tell el-Kerkh (Jammo 2014(Jammo , 2018, Tell Sabi Abyad (Akkermans 2013), Hakemi Use (Tekin 2010(Tekin , 2011Erdal 2013). Further, the common practice of plastered, decorated, and cached skulls in the PPNB also disappeared in the Levant during the PN. ...
... The PPNB-PPNC transition is often viewed as a decline or collapse. Evidence for abandonment of PPNB 'megasites' and naviform technology were attributed to climate instability (Bar-Yosef 2019) and environmental overexploitation (Rollefson 1989;Rollefson et al. 1992; Rollefson 2020 and references therein). Others challenged the clear-cut correlation between climate fluctuations and cultural change (Twiss 2007;Maher et al. 2011) and rather emphasized outbreaks of contagious diseases (Smith and Horwitz 2012); population growth, and increased tensions between neighboring communities (Goring-Morris and Belfer-Cohen 1998; 2011); or other social factors (Twiss 2007). ...
Thesis
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Between the Neolithic and the urban revolutions, sweeping changes of tremendous socio-economic significance took place in the southern Levant. The main goal of this research was to investigate the role lithics played in these transformations. The specific research goals were first, to determine the main triggers for changes in raw material selection, techno-typological aspects, and functional changes in sickle blades, projectiles, and bifacial tool production during this timeframe. Second, follow the socio-cultural aspects these changes reflect; and third, use the techno-typological and raw material analyses to extrapolate a likely trajectory of the establishment and development of agricultural communities following plant and animal domestication, the formation of mature farming societies, and the founding of the first cities, or urbanization. My basic assumption is that everything made and used by pre-industrial people are reflections of society, economy, identity, and worldviews. Sickle blades, projectiles, and bifacial tools are standardized craft objects and, as such, are perceived as material expressions of social discourse and an effective medium for exploring society and culture Materials and Methods This research focuses on a detailed study of 924 sickle blades, 371 projectiles, and 800 bifacial tools from ten cultural layers of five different sites dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC), the Pottery Neolithic (PN) Yarmukian, the PN Lodian, the PN Wadi Rabah, the Chalcolithic Ghassulian (CGH), and the Early Bronze Age (EBA). It examines aspects of raw material, technology, and typology, and includes a comparative study with other available (published) contemporary sites. The insights from the diachronic changes in tool types analyzed and meticulously characterized in this study were evaluated using seriation and comparison of the three production trajectories, published functional studies (use-wear analyses and controlled experiments), ethnographic evidence, economic and social models, and a perceptual perspective. Main Results and Implications Techno-typological and raw material analyses reveal that, from a lithic perspective, cultural changes during the PPNC–EBA were gradual, with no abrupt breaks. This steady development formed a continuum from the onset of agriculture through the establishment of rural communities and into the emergence of more complex societies (which, in the Mediterranean zone, saw a split between the farmer and craftsmen), and finally to the foundation of cities. The three tool types examined in this study contribute to a better understanding of this process, each from a different perspective. This research illustrates that developments and changes in the sickle blade production trajectories were triggered by increasing demand for cereals and straw (for animal feed, basketry, the pottery industry, and more) and reflect increasing efficiency in both harvesting and production and maintenance of sickles (haft and inserts). I propose to view these developments through the prism of organization and reorganization of production. An increase in the number of harvested plants per time unit reflects resource optimization and contributes to an increase in an area's carrying capacity, which in turn potentially leads to an increase in surplus. Therefore, changes in sickle blade techno-typology over time eventually enabled the sustaining of a growing population. With the introduction of a long sickle in the PPNC, the complexity of sickle production, hafting, and maintenance significantly increased. This, along with concurrent scheduling of harvesting and sickle blade craftsmanship, contributed to the establishment of distinct social identities of farmers and craftsmen. This research makes a significant contribution to aspects of perception of production. As mentioned, the trigger for diachronic change in sickle blades was the increasing efficiency in both harvesting and sickle production. However, the achievement of this goal changed dramatically in the late PN, indicating a perceptual change. Between the PPNC and the Lodian culture of the PN, the need for increased efficiency in both harvesting and sickle production was handled by extending the lifespan of sickle inserts based on increased investment in the shaping, reshaping, and reuse of each insert (late stage production investment). This situation changed in the PN Wadi Rabah culture with the adoption of a more cost-effective approach characterized by increased investment in the initial production stages (acquisition of suitable raw material and core preparation). This enabled serial production of large numbers of short-lived sickle inserts with minimal investment in the last stages of production. The PPNC, Yarmukian, and Lodian sickle blade production echoes hunter-gatherer perceptions of objects as “selves,” emphasizing the life cycle of various “selves.” This approach, though ecologically beneficial, is time–effort consuming and contradicts fundamental principles of production efficiency. It creates a “bottleneck” that prevents an increase in specialization, slows down demographic growth, and socio-economic development. Beginning with the Wadi Rabah culture, sickle blade craftsmen focused on the “whole” at the expense of the “individual,” meaning the whole sickle at the expense of its inserts. The sickle insert was no longer viewed as a “self” but rather as a “means” to achieving increased production efficiency. This led the late PN economy and society on a track of increasing specialization, technological development, social ranking, and economic and demographic growth. This research suggests that we view the Lodian–Wadi Rabah transition as a turning point in the increased specialization in sickle blade production, further amplified in the CHG, and even more in the EBA, with its nearly “industrial” mass production of highly standard Cannaanean blade blanks. This technological choice is essentially a reflection of a shift from a relational epistemology to an objectified worldview, a shift in perception that, over time, would develop, expand, and finally evolve into modern perception of economy and society as we know it today. Diachronic changes in projectiles reflect a continuous decline in hunting activities and an increasing marginalization of stone tipped tools in the southern Levant. A detailed comparison of tool type characteristics shows a similarity between the sickle blade and projectile production trajectories (they were likely produced by the same craftsmen) during the PPNC, PN Yarmukian, and Lodian, until projectiles decrease and then practically disappear. The sickle blade trajectory is evidently the leading one. It is of great significance that the withdrawal from the hunter-gatherer animistic worldview of objects as "selves" coincided with abandonment of the classic Neolithic “three-type” projectile system in the Wadi Rabah culture and adoption of an advantageous production (of Transverse projectile) based on blade segments. This shift is a visible expression of the above presented perceptual change. The production of bifacial tools seems to reflect a conservative set of choices, applied traditionally, and with little change, throughout the time span examined. Bifacial tool production differs from the sickle blade + projectile industry, and was likely performed by different craftsmen. Due to the complex process of shaping and polishing (extensive investment in the late production stages), bifacial tools could not be subjected to high levels of specialization, namely, mass production. The inability to make stone bifacial tool production more efficient probably led to its eventual abandonment (and likely replacement by metal axes and adzes) already in the early stages of the EBA, while the production of stone sickle blades became highly organized and flourished much longer afterwards. As the adze claims to be more efficient and versatile than the axe, the increase in adzes in the Wadi Rabah and CHG likely reflects attempts to increase efficiency. This emphasizes the importance of efficiency in production and use between the PPNC and the EBA. As with projectiles, the abandonment of stone bifacial tools in the EBA reflects the relinquishing of the cultural and symbolic meaning these tools once held, and emphasizes again, withdrawal from “old” perceptions. Using a sickle blade attribute seriation model and a technology-based production curve analysis, I was able to illustrate how technological development alone does not lead to socio-economic change. Perceptual changes underlie (and are an essential driving force behind) socio-economic developments. In fact, the increased organization of production (specialization) in the Wadi Rabah–CHG–EBA would not have been possible without letting go of “old” perceptions (rooted in the hunter-gatherer world), in favor of a more direct, “end-product targeted”, “cost-effective” approach to production. In the absence of perceptual change, further socio-economic developments (including increased exploitation and manipulation of the environment, resource optimization, and demographic growth) would not have been possible. This research establishes that worldviews rooted in hunter-gatherer epistemologies continued to influence the perception of lithic (and also pottery) production until, and including the PN Lodian culture, almost two millennia after the domestication of plants and animals in the region and the institutionalization of agriculture. This raises many questions, such as: How can the perceptual change be characterized? Was the separation from hunter-gatherer worldviews a gradual process or was it a change that occurred in parallel with changes in the perception of domestication and production, but not in the same pace? How and when did a change in the perception of plants and animals take place and how did it make domestication possible and legitimate? Did a similar process take place in production as well? This research makes an important contribution to understanding the dynamics of innovation that accompanied the Neolithic process, and the centrality of cereals as the major economic foundation of rural societies in the southern Levant and the Levant as a whole. The perceptual change illuminated through lithic analysis may relate to the concept of the “Second Neolithic Revolution” and the “Neolithization of the human mind” as put forward by Gopher. It evidently was preceded by a significantly changed discourse reflected in a symbolic explosion in the Yarmukian culture. How this perceptual change was promoted, its nature and course, and more generally, the mechanisms behind the new epistemological structuring are, in my view, the most significant paths for future research.
... Four or five excavated sites in central and eastern Jordan can be dated to Period II. Other sites are known only from surface collections of artefacts during surveys, and these cannot be attributed to a period more precise than the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (Rollefson 1998, 109 (Rollefson et al 1992). Forty-two published radiocarbon results (ibid, table 1) include twenty-two in the 9200-8500BP range (Figure 3.3). ...
Thesis
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PhD thesis written between 1998 and 2004 when I was a student at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
... Field projects of the last two decades, among them ‛Ain Ghazal (Rollefson et al. 1992), Atlit Yam (Galili et al. 1993), Tel-'Ali (Garfinkel 1998) and Ashkelon (Dag 2001) yielded new findings and discoveries which have contributed to seriously question the notion of a settlement gap theorized by Kenyon. A new Neolithic phase emerged, designated by various scholars as the "Pre-Pottery Neolithic C" or "Final Pre-Pottery Neolithic B". ...
Research
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A seminar paper written at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I thought I did a fine job at it. Drawings by the author.
... hawam 2007 ;Frembach et Lechavelier 1973 ;Marchand 2012 ;Rollefson 1986Rollefson , 1998Rollefson et al. 1999 ;Bocquentin 2008 ;Milevski et al. 2008 ;Croucher 2012 ;Grissom et Griffin 2013 ;Kuijt 1996Kuijt , 2002Kuijt , 2008Kuijt , 2009Goren et al. 2001 ;Erdal 2014 ;Benz 2010Benz , 2012Kodas 2014. 3) Arensburg Milevski et al. 2008. 9) Rollefson 1998Rollefson et. al. 1992Rollefson et. al. , 1999 ...
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'Ain Ghazal, an archeological site located on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan, is one of the largest early villages known in the Near East. The site dates to the Neolithic period, during which mankind made one of its most significant advances, the adoption of domestic plants and animals as primary subsistence sources. Recent excavations at 'Ain Ghazal have augmented considerably current knowledge of several aspects of the Neolithic. Of particular interest has been the documentation of a continuous, or near continuous, occupation from early through late Neolithic components, and a concomitant dramatic economic shift. This shift was from a broad subsistence base relying on a variety of both wild and domestic plants and animals, to an economic strategy reflecting an apparent emphasis on pastoralism.
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