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A Late Natufian and PPNA Settlement in North-East Jordan: Interim Report on the 2014-2016 Excavations at Shubayqa 6

Field Reports
Rollefson et al.
  Wadial-Qatta
Richter et al.
Shubayqa 6
 DietrichandNotro
A Decorated Bone ‚Spatula‘
Conference Reports
 IconographyandSymbolicMeaningoftheHumaninNear
  EasternPrehistory.10thICAANEWorkshop,April2016,Vienna
Darabi et al.
 NeolithisationanditsConsequences.1-4March2016,Tehran
New Thesis
Barbora Kubíková
The Newsletter of
2Neo-Lithics 1/16
Editorial 2
Field Reports
GaryO.Rollefson,YorkeRowan,AlexanderWasse,A.ChadHill,MoragKersel,BritaLorentzen,  
Khaled al-Bashaireh and Jennifer Ramsay
 InvestigationsofaLateNeolithicStructureatMesa7,Wadial-Qatta,BlackDesert,2015 3
 ALateNatuanandPPNASettlementinNorth-EastJordan:InterimReportonthe2014-2016
 ExcavationsatShubayqa6 13
 ADecoratedBone‘Spatula’fromGöbekliTepe.OnthePitfallsofIconographicInterpretationsof
 EarlyNeolithicArt 22
TheAegeanBeforeandAfter7000BCDispersal:DeningPatterningandVariability 32
Conference Reports
 10thICAANEWorkshop,April2016,Vienna 42
 NeolithisationanditsConsequences:AGlobalView(fromandtoIran).1-4March2016,Tehran 44
Barbora Kubíková, MorphologicalStudyofSlingProjectileswithAnalysisofClayBallsfromthe
 LateNeolithicSiteTellArbidAbyad(Syria),MasterThesis,CentreofPrehistoricArchaeology
 oftheNearEast,MasarykUniversity,CzechRepublic. 49
Masthead 52
On several occasions we co-editors of Neo-Lithics have discussed a peer-reviewed and open access format of the
newsletter, encouraged by repeated appeals from our colleagues to provide a publication opportunity that also
serves the need to promote careers, e.g. by collecting impact points. We hesitated: We didn’t want to be just another
peer-review network, with problems in transparency, with manipulation opportunities by selecting reviewers, for
helping mainstream research topics and strategies, and the like. Knowing our capacities, we also wanted to avoid the
immense administrative and moral work related to the organization of peer reviews. Rather we wanted to continue
being a 1) direct gate to quickly publish information on important new ndings from the Neolithic elds and labs
with just a lighter editor-based reviewing, 2) an alternative for Neolithic topics not easily placed in other journals,
3) a place for eld reports often considered not reviewable, and 4) especially a chance for young researchers
especially from the Middle East - outside existing research networks to launch their rst publications under less
severe conditions, to promote regional expertise. How to maintain these goals when introducing peer review?
The discussion is still ongoing and we seek your comments, advice, and collaboration. We can imagine to
be an open access newsletter by applying testable standards of transparency, organizing a non-anonymous peer
reviewing for our sections FieldReports and Contributions while keeping the “documentary” sections of reports
on conferences, news on books and thesis, etc. unreviewed. Our sorrow is, however, that this might lead to the
exclusion of worthy information presented by younger colleagues who do not meet advanced standards of research
presentation and analysis. But this might become the chance for another type of reviewing, understanding it as
coaching authors and raising the discursive levels of contributions by adding - in one way or another - the reviewers’
points of view? By reaching high quality contributions through strong acceptance hurdles, resulting from an intense
transparent negotiation of results between the author and sponsoring or even nursing non-anonymous reviewers, we
can make peer reviewing in Neo-Lithics an interactive motor for high quality Neolithic research, and an investment
into the academic ospring as well. It would mean that we would need a much larger community of peer reviewers
(or peer coaches), ready to be committed to this future format of Neo-Lithics. It even can result in a paradigm of
another type and culture of peer review. Is this idea beyond academic reality, too much idealistic or even naïve?
Upon the publication of this editorial, we will launch this discussion also into the mailing list Forum Neo-Lithics,
to open a broader discussion on a potential change of the Neo-Lithics format.
The co-editors Hans Georg K. Gebel, Marion Benz, Dörte Rokitta-Krumnow, joined by Gary Rollefson.
Richter et al., Shubayqa 6
Neo-Lithics 1/16 13
Tobias Richter, Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, Elisabetta Boaretto, Emmy Bocaege, Erin Estrup,
Cesar Martinez Gallardo, George Alexis Pantos, Patrick Nørskov Pedersen, Ingeborg Sæhle, and Lisa Yeomans
Pedestrian survey along the northern edge of the Qa’
Shubayqa in October/ November 2012 resulted in the
discovery of a large, hitherto undocumented prehistoric
settlement (Richter etal. 2012). Collection of surface
artefacts strongly hinted that this site may have a PPNA
occupation phase. Three seasons of excavation under
the auspices of the University of Copenhagen’s De-
partment of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies have
produced evidence for a substantial settlement that was
occupied from the late Natuan to the late PPNA.
Although recent work in north-east Jordan and else-
where in the Harra and Hamad has begun to dispel the
idea that this region was a ‘marginal’ or ‘peripheral’
zone throughout prehistory (e.g. Akkermans etal. 2014;
Müller-Neuhof 2014; Richter 2014), evidence for the
transition from hunting and gathering to the earliest
cultivators, the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic transition,
has to date remained more elusive (Richter and Maher
2013). Thus, most summaries of the emergence of early
Neolithic society in the Levant have suggested that the
eastern, more arid zone of the Levant was likely occu-
pied by groups that retained a hunting and gathering
lifestyle and continued to be more mobile than their
plant cultivating, sedentary PPNA cousins further west
in the Jordan Valley and north along the Upper Eu-
phrates (e.g. Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000; Kuijt
and Goring-Morris 2002; Bar-Yosef 2008). Given the
paucity of evidence available so far, this seemed a rea-
sonable assumption. However, our work is beginning
to show that the picture may be more complex. In this
interim report, we describe the eldwork carried out at
Shubayqa 6 since 2014, which provides evidence for
a substantial settlement that was occupied across the
transition from the late Natuan to the PPNA.
Shubayqa 6 is situated in the Black Desert of north-
east Jordan, c. 22 km north of the modern town of Safawi
and 130 km north-east of the capital Amman at UTM
37S 334076/ 3586839 (Fig. 1). The Natuan sites of
Shubayqa 1 and Shubayqa 3 are
situated 0.7 km west and 3.1 km
south-east respectively. Shu-
bayqa 6 is a 2-3 m high mound
which sits atop a low terrace to
the immediate north of the Qa’
Shubayqa (Fig. 2). The mound
appears to consist almost entirely
of anthropogenic deposits, as
well as structures built of local
basalt. Chipped stone and basalt
ground stone artefacts cover the
mound and surrounding area, to-
talling c. 3,000 m2. The majority
of the extant surface architecture
appears to date to the Bronze
Age, Byzantine/ early Islamic
period, and later constructions
that are probably medieval, post-
medieval and modern in date. The
Bronze Age structures consist of
a circular wall that incorporates
a burial cairn at its southern edge
(see below). There are at least
ve rectangular buildings which,
according to surface nds of
pottery, appear to date to the late
Byzantine/ early Islamic period.
At least seven Muslim graves are
located on and around the mound,
some of which sit on top of the
rectangular structures. A number
Fig. 1 Location of Shubayqa 6 in relation to other PPNA sites in the southern Levant.
(Shubayqa Archaeological Project)
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 1/16
of circular enclosures were built later on top of the rect-
angular buildings, but they are dicult to date. In ad-
dition to the PPNA architecture exposed in excavation
(see below), several partially buried circular walls were
also observed on the surface of the site, which could
date to the Neolithic occupation.
In 2014, we excavated an evaluation trench (6 m east-
west by 2 m) at the eastern edge of the site, as well
as a 1 x 1 m test unit at the top of the mound. These
units were excavated to determine the presence, depth
and preservation of sub-surface archaeology and to
obtain stratied samples of material culture, fauna
and botanical remains. Subsequently, a 10 x 10 m
area incorporating the 2014 evaluation trench was
opened in 2015. Excavations continued in this area
in 2016. The area was sub-divided into four squares
labelled A1-A4. Each square was sub-divided into 1 x
1 m or 0,5 x 0,5 m units where warranted (e.g. where
deposits immediately above oors were reached). Ex-
cavated sediment was dry-sieved on site, the residue
collected, washed and sorted into nd categories at the
dig house. A minimum of ten litres of sediment was
collected from every deposit for otation, while 200 ml
reference soil samples for pollen and phytolith analysis
were also collected. Excavations combined the use of
a single-context recording system with excavations in
arbitrary horizontal and vertical units (‘spits’), whe-
reby the natural boundaries of sediments were always
respected. Bulk nds were collected by square, context
and – where applicable – spit, while special nds (e.g.
worked bone) were point-provenienced using a total
station. In addition to standard digital photography and
hand drawn plans and sections, we utilised more ad-
vanced digital recording techniques to create 3D mod-
els of excavated features and excavation areas.
Excavations in the main area have revealed a dense
and complex arrangement of architecture and features.
The latest phase uncovered in the excavation area is a
segment of the circular wall that encloses most of the
mound. The wall truncated earlier deposits in Squares
A2 and A4. This wall was constructed of unworked ba-
salt boulders, which was preserved only to a height of
1-2 courses. A fragment of early Bronze Age ceramic
was found immediately beneath the wall following its
removal during excavation. Late Chalcolithic and early
Bronze Age ceramics were found in low frequencies
in the vicinity of the wall. This and a single 14C date
suggest that the mound was occupied during the late
Chalcolithic/ early Bronze Age, when it was possibly
part of a funerary monument. This is suggested by the
cairn that is situated on top of the mound, which ap-
pears to be connected to the circular enclosing wall.
Within Square A1 a circular cairn built of unworked
basalt blocks was exposed (Space 10, Fig. 3). At the
centre the remnants of a disturbed stone-lined cist were
exposed, which contained the semi-articulated and
disarticulated remains of at least three individuals. Ex-
cavation of this feature could not be completed during
Fig. 2 Plan of Shubayqa 6 and aerial view of the site. (Shubayqa Archaeological Project)
Richter et al., Shubayqa 6
Neo-Lithics 1/16 15
the 2016 season and further human remains were left
unexcavated inside the cist. The cairn reuses an earlier
circular structure, which probably dates to the PPNA.
No material culture that could clearly be identied as
belonging to the burials in the cist was recovered. How-
ever, a piece of copper was recovered near the cairn.
Cist burials or cairn funerary monuments are unknown
from the PPNA, but are common in the Chalcolithic
and Bronze Age in the Levant. These observations as
well as the piece of copper, the single late prehistoric
14C date and the thin spread of late Chalcolithic/ early
Bronze Age pottery, suggest that this cairn likely dates
to the same time frame.
A deep pit which truncated earlier PPNA deposits
and structures was found in the south-west corner of
A3. This pit may be related to the suspected late preh-
istoric burial cairn on top of the mound. Basalt slabs
including some re-used groundstones were set at angles
to line the large cut in several layers.
The next clearly visible phase at the site appears
to be conned to Squares A1 and A3, where one com-
plete building (Space 3) and several circular structures
(Spaces 7, 8 and 9) were exposed. This architecture
overlies other structures, of which parts were exposed in
A2, A3 and A4. Space 3 is an oval structure constructed
of carefully selected large, rectangular and at basalt
slabs, as well as some orthostatic basalt stones (Fig. 4).
The building has at least two phases: the southern wall
is of a less careful construction and appears to be a later
rebuild. Two superimposed stone-lined replaces were
excavated at the centre of the building, surrounded by
well-made mud plaster oors. A series of internal post-
Fig. 3 Orthostatic photo of the main excavation area at the end of the 2016 season. (Shubayqa Archaeological Project)
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 1/16
holes suggest a roof superstructure made of organic
materials. A number of basalt handstones were found
lying in front of the southern wall of this space. Space 7
was also excavated down to a oor and also produced
a stone lined replace. Spaces 8 and 9 have not been
completely excavated yet. This phase of architecture
sits on top of rich midden deposits characterised by a
humic soil matrix.
An earlier phase of occupation consisting of a series
of circular and sub-circular buildings was exposed in
A2, A3 and A4. Space 1 was already partially exposed
in the 2014 evaluation trench. This large circular struc-
ture measures nearly 5 m in maximum diameter. A
‘bench’ or later wall was built in front of the original
exterior wall. One replace inside this structure has
already been exposed, which was built on top of an ear-
lier replace (not yet excavated). To the south in Square
A4, three small circular and oval structures (Spaces 2,
5 and 6) were exposed and partly excavated. These are
too small to be inhabitation structures, but their actual
purpose is not clear at present. Space 4 occupies most
of A3, measuring at least 5m in diameter. This buil-
ding has a complex construction history with numerous
phases. Once, this area probably was an outdoor space,
as it contained a replace and an oval stone alignment
situated atop a midden and substantial collapsed build-
ing material. The midden beneath proved to be extra-
ordinarily rich in nds. Numerous beads, ground- and
chipped stone artefacts, as well as worked bone, animal
bone and botanical remains were recovered from this
area. A cache of basalt handstones was found placed
in front of the eastern wall of the structure. This sec-
ondary use of the space seems to be characterised by
its use for discarded waste and processing activities in
an external area. Burnt and re-cracked st-sized ba-
salt rocks were very frequent throughout the midden
suggesting that the waste from cooking activities were
dumped here. As the various spits of the midden were
excavated it was clear that many at handstones were
often left close to the walls of this space.
Radiocarbon Dates
Six charred pieces of plant material from Shubayqa 6
were submitted for dating by Accelerator Mass Spec-
trometry (AMS). The calibrated ranges cluster bet-
ween 12,400–10,600 cal BP (10,400–8,640 cal BC) at
68.2% probability or ±1σ. One sample provided a date
of 5,710–5,615 cal BP (3,765–3,665 cal BC; 68.2%)
(Fig. 5). This late date from a context close to the
modern surface conrms the late Chalcolithic/ early
Bronze Age occupation at the site already indicated by
the ceramic nds from the excavations. The other ve
dates come from stratigraphically earlier deposits. The
dates are stratigraphically coherent and derive from
contexts in the 2014 evaluation trench and the sound-
ing. Two of these dates fall within the Late Natuan
time frame, while POZ-76082 straddles the transition
between the Late Natuan and the early PPNA. The
nal two dates correspond to the late PPNA in the
southern Levant. These dates suggest that Shubayqa 6
Fig. 4 A PPNA building at Shubayqa 6 (Space 3). (Shubayqa Archaeological Project)
Richter et al., Shubayqa 6
Neo-Lithics 1/16 17
was occupied during the late Natuan and possibly
throughout the PPNA. This makes Shubayqa 6 an un-
usual site as most Late Natuan sites were abandoned
and not reused during the PPNA (see below).
Only a small sample of the chipped stone industry
from Shubayqa 6 has been studied so far. The analysed
material comes from the lower levels of inll in Space
1, which represents one of the earliest phases
excavated at the site so far. The chipped stone
assemblage is dom-inated by int, in addition
to small amounts of chalcedony and obsi-
dian. Neither of these two latter raw materials
are available locally, and the nearest known
sources of int lie some 70-90 km south of
Shubayqa 6 (Betts 1998). Chalcedony is known
from sources east of the Azraq oasis (Betts
1998: 34). The obsidian from Shubayqa 6 has
not been sourced yet, but the nearest obsidian
sources are located in southwestern Turkey,
some 790 km away (Carter etal. 2013).
The lack of locally available int let the inhabitants
of Shubayqa 6 carry out the initial stages of stone tool
production at the source location. This is reected in
the assemblage by a lack of initial platform tablets and
low numbers of primary pieces. The lack of cortical
pieces indicates that int knappers pre-shaped the no-
dules before they brought them to the site. The amount
of debris/ shatter is low, resulting in a low ratio of de-
bris to cores and tools. This could reect an attempt to
maintain an ecient reduction strategy at the site in
order to conserve raw material.
Fig. 5 Plot of probability distribution of calibrated ranges of 14C dates from Shubayqa 6 in year cal BC and cal BP. Calibrated ages in
calendar years have been obtained from the calibration tables in (Reimer et al. 2013) by means of OxCal v. 4.2 of Bronk Ramsey (2010)
(Bronk-Ramsey 1995, Bronk-Ramsey 2001). Samples are ordered according to their stratigraphic position in the site‘s matrix.
Fig. 6 El-Khiam point. (Shubayqa Archaeological
Calibrated BCE Calibrated BP
Lab no. Context
Material Age 14C BP 68.2% 95.4% 68.2% 95.4%
Poz-76084 68.2 Midden layer fraxinus sp. 4945 +/-35 3765-3664 3791-3652 5714-5613 5740-5601
Poz-76085 69 Trampled surface fraxinus sp. 9440 +/-50 8780-8639 9114-8572 10729-10588 11063-10521
Poz-76083 75 Midden layer fraxinus sp. 9500 +/-50 9117-8731 9131-8640 11066-10680 11080-10589
Poz-76082 25 Midden layer tamarix sp.10050 +/-50 9756-9456 9864-9371 11705-11405 11813-11320
RTK-7950 5 Midden layer in
deep sounding
vitex agnus
10270 +/-33 10159-10021 10211-9881 12108-11970 12160-11830
RTK-7952 5 Midden layer in
deep sounding
vitex agnus
10320 +/-34 10421-10071 10432-10031 12370-12020 12381-11980
Table 1 List of AMS dates from Shubayqa 6.
Field Reports
Neo-Lithics 1/16
of grinding tools, i.e. handstones and querns,
seems to reect what is commonly observed in
Levantine Neolithic ground stone assemblages
(Wright 1992, 1994).
The site has also produced a very rich as-
semblage of faunal remains. Only a very small
proportion of the material from the evaluation
trench, the sounding and Space 2 have been
analysed at this stage. The species present in-
clude gazelle with lower numbers of onager,
sheep, fox, hare, cattle, tortoise as well as a
range of wetland birds. Several large canid
bones were also recovered from Space 2. A high pro-
portion of all the faunal remains have passed through
the digestive tract of animals clearly displaying the
characteristic signatures of acid damage causing en-
largement of foramen and the porous structure of
trabec-ular bone, faceting of surfaces and sharpening
of edges. Together this suggests that dogs were pro-
bably companions to the human population during the
PPNA. Compared to the faunal evidence for Natuan
occupation at Shubayqa 1, hare were a more frequent
component of the hunted prey and its possible that
hunting activities with dogs could have enabled this
evasive animal to be more eectively caught.
The archaeobotanical work carried out so far in-
cludes a total of 207 otation samples (more than 3000
litres of sediment processed). Overall, macrobotanical
preservation at Shubayqa 6 is excellent. The prelimi-
nary analyses of the plant macroremains indicate the
presence of riparian trees such as Fraxinus sp. (ash),
Vitex sp. (chaste tree) and Tamarix sp. (tamarisk) sug-
gesting that a wetland existed nearby. This matches
the palaeoenvironmental information obtained from
the archaeobotanical material from Shubayqa 1. The
non-woody plant macro remains comprise cereals
such as wheat and barley along with a large proportion
of wild plants, including Cyperacea rhizome-tubers.
Future analyses will elucidate whether the inhabitants
of Shubayqa 6 were gathering wild resources or had
already started plant food production activities such as
cereal cultivation.
More than 2000 stone beads, roughouts and waste
fragments related to bead production have been reco-
vered from Shubayqa 6 to date (Fig. 9). The vast ma-
jority of these were made using Dabba marble green-
stone, although other types of stone, as well as avian
shell and bone were also occasionally used. This ma-
terial chimes with the large number of chipped stone
drills and grooved basalt artefacts, which are likely
related to bead production (Wrightetal.2008). It is
not quite clear at present why this settlement became a
locus for bead production given that the nearest known
greenstone raw material sources are located c. 70 km
away. A more detailed study of the bead assemblage
The chipped stone industry at Shubayqa 6 is
heavily ake-orientated, and akes outnumber both
blades and bladelets by more than double in the debi-
tage. This is a typical trait of both Natuan and PPNA
lithic industries. Bladelets clearly outnumber blades
in the assemblage, but it seems likely that this is a
reection of raw material constraints (small nodules)
rather than a cultural prevalence for bladelets. Tools
are dominated by informal ake-tools, usually uti-
lized or lightly retouched. Perforators make up nearly
25 % of the tool assemblage, and clearly outnumber
all other formal tool categories. High numbers of per-
forators are a typical PPNA trait, but the unusually
high numbers at Shubayqa 6 could be seen in relation
to an intensive on-site bead production (see below).
Although the sample that was studied inten-sively
yielded no projectile points, el-Khiam and Salibiya
points were recovered from other parts of the site.
The assemblage from the 1x1 m sounding showed an
increase in the number of geometric microliths with
depth, with abruptly backed lunates becoming more
common lower down in the sequence. This further
supports the notion of a late Natuan phase at Shu-
bayqa 6 (Fig. 6).
Due to the large number of ground stone tool
fragments and debitage, they were collected in bulk
according to context and square/ spit, while complete
tools found in association with oor surfaces were
considered special nds and point-provenienced. The
assemblage awaits detailed analysis but a few obser-
vations can be noted. Most of the ground stone tools
seem to be related to the Neolithic occupation of the
site. Discoidal- and ovate shaped handstones are pre-
valent and, as mentioned above, several of these were
found abutting interior wall faces within Spaces 3
and 4 (Fig. 7). Basin-type querns also seem to be
common; one of these was reused as building material
in the wall of Space 3. In addition to the more fre-
quent tool types, a few pestles, vessel-mortars (Fig. 8)
and grooved stones have also been recovered. Large
boulder mortars, like the ones observed at the nearby
Natuan site Shubayqa 1 (Richter et al. 2012), have
not been found at Shubayqa 6 so far. The prevalence
Fig. 7 Cache of basalt handstones in front of the
eastern wall of Space 4. (Shubayqa Archaeological
Richter et al., Shubayqa 6
Neo-Lithics 1/16 19
of types similar and specic to those found throug-
hout the southern Levant from the Upper Paleolithic
through the PPNC (Bar-Yosef Mayer 2013). There
are a number of pieces of worked bone, with bone
points being the most common. One unusual piece
of worked bone of unclear function was recovered
from deposits associated with typical PPNA material
culture in Space 4 (Fig. 10): the rib of a medium-
sized mammal was cut into a T-shape and polished
smoothly. Three groups of incisions were made on
the external polished surface; four small holes were
drilled in the broadest part. The function of this object
is not clear at present, although the four holes may
suggest that it was used as a pendant or was attached
to garment. A further unusual object from Shubayqa
6 is an anthropomorphic chalk gurine (Fig. 11). The
gure has an oblong top part, a thick middle section
and a broad base. Two arms were worked out from the
main section, one of which shows a pattern of hatchet
pattern of incisions. Further incision and cut marks
can be seen in the upper part and along the base.
will be undertaken in due course, however, a prelimi-
nary perusal of the current assemblage reveals beads
Fig. 8 A vessel-mortar found in the ll of Space 4.
(Shubayqa Archaeological Project)
Fig. 9 Beads, production waste and bead roughouts. (Shubayqa
Archaeological Project)
Fig. 10 T-shaped, incised and perforated piece of worked bone. (Shubayqa Archaeological Project)
Fig. 11 Anthropomorphic chalk gurine. (Shubayqa
Archaeological Project)
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Neo-Lithics 1/16
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
Akkermans P.M.M.G., Huigens H.O., and Brüning M.L.
2014 A Landscape of Preservation: Late Prehistoric
Settlement and Sequence in the Jebel Qurma Region,
North-Eastern Jordan. Levant 46(2): 186-205. doi:10.11
Bar-Yo sef O.
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Our excavations at Shubayqa 6 to date demonstrate
that this site was a substantial settlement that appears
to have its origins in the Late Natuan and continued
to be occupied throughout the PPNA. Its complex ar-
chitecture, rich material cultural assemblage, as well as
evidence for apparently intensive plant collection dem-
onstrates that the Harra was not occupied by mobile
groups focused predominantly on hunting during the
late Natuan and PPNA, as has often been suggested.
Shubayqa 6 has all the hallmarks of a sedentary settle-
ment, characterised by intensive exploitation of edible
plants and animals. Although additional excavations
and further analysis of the nds from the site are nec-
essary, Shubayqa 6 demonstrates that the emergence
of the cultural and economic patterns that characterise
the PPNA happened in the Harra at the same time as
in the Jordan Valley and on the Upper Euphrates. The
Levantine Corridor of the early Neolithic agricultural
revolution was therefore probably much wider than
previously thought and incorporated the semi-arid zone
east of the Jebel Druze. Further work at Shubayqa 6
will allow us to investigate to what extent the late Natu-
an and early PPNA economy of the settlement was
based on emergent plant management strategies. Due
to its excellent preservation of macrobotanical remains
and successive occupation from the Late Natuan
to the end of the PPNA, further work at Shubayqa 6
promises a rare insight into how the economic, social
and cultural parameters of gathering-hunting societies
changed from the end of the Pleistocene to the begin-
ning of the Holocene.
Tobias Richter
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen, (corresponding author)
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
D-REAMS Laboratory, Helen and Martin Kimmel
Center for Archaeological Science,
Weizmann Institute of Science
Université de Bordeaux, UMR 5199 PACEA
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
University of Copenhagen
Richter et al., Shubayqa 6
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... 12 100-11 900 cal BP) from a small test trench suggests that limited occupation continued into the Younger Dryas but minimal animal bone was recovered from this area. Excavations continue at Shubayqa 6 but several PPNA structures have been excavated and, on the basis of a test trench, the sequence appears to extend back to the Late Natufian [34][35][36]. Five AMS dates span the timeframe 12 370-10 590 cal BP (68.2% probability) placing the main sequence within the PPNA although the lithic assemblage suggests reoccupation in the EPPNB. ...
Full-text available
Wild sheep (Ovis orientalis) bones recovered from the Natufian site of Shubayqa 1 demonstrate a wider distribution of mouflon in the Late Pleistocene of the Southern Levant than previously known. Early Epipalaeolithic sites are common in the limestone steppe region of eastern Jordan but have yielded only a handful of caprine bones that cannot be identified to species level and few faunal remains from excavated Late Epipalaeolithic sites have been reported. Analysis of animal bone from Shubayqa 1 suggests a significant population of wild sheep could be found concentrated in the basalt desert environment of eastern Jordan during the Late Pleistocene, especially where higher rainfall over the Jebel Druze provided more water. A population of wild sheep was still present in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A when the nearby site of Shubayqa 6 was occupied. Hunting of diverse, locally available resources including wild sheep at the end of the Pleistocene illustrates the flexible and adaptive exploitation strategies that hunter-forager groups engaged in. This provides further evidence to the increasing body of data showing the creative and opportunistic approach of terminal Pleistocene groups allowing continued occupation even in more marginal environments in a period of environmental change.
Full-text available
This paper presents a summary of work undertaken by the authors and their teams on a series of Qe'an (plural of Qa’), in the Badia of eastern Jordan. These basins are a foci for settlement in the region, with the sites described here (Shubayqa, Wisad and the Qa’ Qattafi) edged by archaeological sites dating from the late Epipalaeolithic (ca. 14,500 - 11,600 cal BP) and the Neolithic (ca. 11,700 - 6100 cal BP), and in areas still used by people today as seasonal wetlands for watering animals and growing cereal. We assess here the potential for the Qe'an sediments to provide what would be rare continuous palaeoenvironmental records for this part of SW Asia. The paper presents the first dates from the Qe'an of this region and the outline sedimentology. Much of the fill is of Holocene age, which leads to discussion of climate and landscape change over the last 15,000 years, particularly due to the close geographical relationship between these basins and archaeology. Our optically stimulated luminescence and radiocarbon dating of the basin fill suggests that there was significantly more space in the landscape for water storage in the early Holocene, which may have therefore provided this resource for people and their livestock or game for a longer duration each year than that seen today. Linked to this are hypotheses of a more vegetated landscape during this time period. Given the environmentally marginal nature of our study area subtle changes in landscape and/or climate, and human exploitation of these resources, could have led to significant, and likely detrimental for its inhabitants, environmental impacts for the region, such as desertification. Our data are suggestive of desertification occurring, and sets up a clear hypothesis for testing by future work in the region.
There is extensive evidence for extraction of grease and fat from bones of ungulates at Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene sites in the Southern Levant. Excavations at Shubayqa 6 identified an area where extensive processing of carcasses took place at the transition between the Late Natufian to Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA). Large quantities of fire-cracked basalt, highly fragmented faunal remains and burnt bones indicate that grease and fat were extracted on a large scale. Spatial analysis demonstrates that bird remains were discarded in the same location where this fat rendering took place. Waterfowl dominate the assemblage and would have been present mainly in the winter. Body-part representation of the bird remains suggests that this abundance of avifauna resulted in people selectively processing the carcasses of the waterfowl they hunted. Gazelles would have been in peak condition at this time of year with higher concentrations of fat stored in their bodies. This seasonal glut of resources contrasts with the summer, especially late summer, when most of the commonly hunted bird species were absent and the gazelle in relatively poor condition. People, aware of seasonal cycles in resource abundance, may have preserved foods when available. Storing fat conserves resources for leaner times. Compared to the Natufian site of Shubayqa 1, fewer young gazelle in the faunal remains at Shubayqa 6 is an indication that hunting either targeted mature animals or was more intense in the winter when fewer young animals are present. Carcasses from juvenile animals are comprised of less fat and the association of the adult gazelle carcasses with the bird remains suggests that the two resources were processed alongside one another. Preservation of foodstuffs for leaner months of the year may have been one potential outcome of this activity.
Full-text available
In the course of the last four years, surveys in the eastern hinterland of Jawa in the Northern Badia of Jordan have revealed abundant traces of Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age socio-economic activities. These range from the exploitation of large flint mines with associated export-oriented cortical flake production, through abundant indications of ancient pastoralism, to evidence for irrigation agriculture. Additionally, settlements inhabited all year-round have been identified far to the east of Jawa. The hypothetical link of these activities with the site of Jawa is discussed and the possible affiliation of this desert culture to a supra-regional desert culture connecting the Northern Badia in Jordan with the Sinai is considered.
Full-text available
This study is an attempt to develop a comprehensive typology of the earliest stone bead assemblages in the southern Levant from Late Natufian and Neolithic sites. I propose this typology as a tool for studying stone beads almost a century after Horace Beck published his monumental bead typology. Beads are often neglected artifacts in archaeological excavations, but a bead typology can contribute to definitions of relative chronology and to a broader understanding of social and economic aspects of certain prehistoric societies.
Full-text available
Recent fieldwork in the Jebel Qurma region, in the basalt wasteland east of Azraq, revealed a large number of prehistoric sites, dating from the 7th to the late 4th millennia cal BC. While some sites were little more than lithic scatters over a few dozen square metres, others were of impressive size, up to 8 hectares in extent and characterized by hundreds of stone-built structures. The new data demonstrate considerable diversity in site layout as well as clear shifts in habitation patterns and locational preferences through time. These new insights require a re-evaluation of current thoughts on settlement and community organization in the basaltic uplands of north-eastern Jordan in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.
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The transition from foraging to farming of the Neolithic periods is one of, if not, the most important cultural processes in recent human prehistory. Integrating previously published archaeological materials with archaeological research conducted since 1980, the first half of this essay synthesizes our current understanding of archaeological data for the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (ca. 11,700–ca. 8400 B.P.) of the southern Levant, generally defined as including southern Syria and Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Autonomous Authority, Jordan, and the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. The second half of the essay explores how these data inform archaeologists about the processes by which social differentiation emerged, the nature of regional and interregional connections, and the mechanisms and processes by which the transition from foraging to food production first occurred in the Neolithic.
This paper details the use of obsidian sourcing to reconstruct networks of interaction (or ‘communities of practice’) amongst populations of south-eastern Anatolia and the Near East in the context of ‘Neolithisation’ during the late 11th–early 10th millennia BC. EDXRF was used to elementally characterise 120 artefacts of Epi-Palaeolithic – Pre-Pottery Neolithic A date from Körtik Tepe in south-eastern Anatolia. Four eastern Anatolian sources are represented, mainly Bingöl A/B and Nemrut Dağ, plus the first evidence for the use of Muş obsidian. When the source data is integrated with the artefacts' techno-typological attributes it is possible to locate the assemblage within an Upper Tigris tradition (with some interesting local differences), which stands in stark contrast to contemporary practices in northern Mesopotamia and the Levant. These local and regional distinctions support recent views of the Neolithic being much more heterogeneous, with a ‘mosaic’ of community-specific/local traditions of subsistence practices, raw material choices and lithic technologies during the Younger Dryas–Early Holocene.
Les etudes comparatives du mobilier en pierre sont restees limitees en raison d'une terminologie tres variable ainsi que d'une typologie restreinte a du materiel provenant seulement d'un ou deux sites. La plupart des rapports preliminaires ne decrivent ces objets que tres sommairement. Or, le mobilier en pierre joue un role important dans le developpement de la technologie prehistorique et merite autant d'interet que celui accorde aux outils tailles. Cet article presente des definitions de termes technologiques et morphologiques, ainsi qu'une classification generale applicable aux sites prehistoriques du Levant. La typologie morphologique n'est pas le but final des analyses de mobilier en pierre mais est necessaire afin de permettre les comparaisons.
Early Sedenstism in the Near East: A Bumpy Ride to Village Life
  • A Belfer-Cohen
  • O Bar-Yosef
Belfer-Cohen A. and Bar-Yosef O. 2000 Early Sedenstism in the Near East: A Bumpy Ride to Village Life. In: I. Kuji (ed.), Life in Neolithic Farming Communities. Social Organization, Identity, and Differentiation. 19-62. New York: Kluwer Academic.