Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)
Chapter 5: Neolithic 3 South Palestine (Pages 360-368)
Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:
The site with the most ample record of phase 1 occupation is Jericho. After a long period between Neolithic 2 and Neolithic 3 when the mound was inhabited, the site was occupied once more in what Kenyon has termed the Pottery Neolithic A phase. The earliest deposits of this phase consisted of trodden floor surfaces with hearths. Then the inhabitants dug out numerous pits which apparently served as dwellings and working hollows. Some of the eariy pits were as much as 5 metres deep but others were much shallower though still several metres wide. Their sides were recut periodically and lined with stone and clay walls for support. The interiors had successive trodden earth floors testifying to their use over a long period. An oven and numerous hearths were found on the floors in these pits. There were low stone walls around the rims of some pits which supported a roof, traces of which were found within the pits themselves. These pits were found in Trenches I, II and II and in areas M and E, that is all over the mound so the Pottery Neolithic settlement was probbly as large as those of the preceding Neolithic stages.
The Pottery Neolithic flint industry was different in a number of aspects from that of Neolithic 2 at Jericho. The raw material was usually buff, brown or grey flint, very few tools being made on the pink, purple or honey coloured flint of earlier stages. A very little obsidian was also used in this phase. Most of the tools were made on blades struck off pyramidal cores. These tools were quite small, the arrowheads for example being usually about 3 or 4 centimetres long. These were tanged and often had marked shoulders or wings. The tips of some of them were thinned to a sharp point. All these arrowheads were extensively retouched by pressure-flaking.
The sickle blades were always segmented and often had flat retouch along the back. They were usually about 3 tp 4 centimetres long and 1 to 2 centimetres wide. This type has a coarsely denticulated cutting edge. Another which was more than 2 centimetres wide had flat retouch over part or all or both surfaces. The cutting edges were finely or coarsely denticulated and a few were backed.
A third characteristic tool was a knife made on thin tabular flint. This had a cutting edge retouched by squamous pressure-flaking which was usually bifacial. There were some flake side-scrapers and also a characteristic flake scrpaer with a retouched side and end meeting to form a right angled corner. Among the other tools were end-scrapers on blades, small borers and several types of burin.
The heavy tools at Jericho were also quite small like the arrowheads and sickle blades. These consisted of axes, adzes and chisels which had been flaked all over. They were elliptical in cross-section or more rarely oval and had rounded, flaked cutting edges which were sometimes polished. The assemblage also included a few small picks.
The pottery of this phase at Jericho was all made of clay tempered with much straw and some grit. There was a coarse plain ware, some sherds of which were very thick and crumbly, and also a painted fine ware. The most common shapes were baggy jars with flat bases, globular hole-mouth pots and other jars with a collar neck. There were also simple bowls and cups with flat bases and splayed sides. The larger vessels had knobs, ledge or strap handles for lifting. These pots were built up in strips or coiled and then scraped or wiped on the surface, a technique that left a characteristic rough, striated surface. The decorated vessels were coloured with cream and red slips to produce reserved chevron and triangle patterns which were sometimes burnished. A very few vessels had a little incised decoration.
The rest of the artifact inventory was quite simple. There were some borers and other bone tools but most of the remaining artifacts were made of stone. These consisted of simple bowls, querns and rubbers as well as some pestles and mortars.
Tell Ras Ain is northwest of Jericho and a little to the west of the springs of Ain Duq and Ain Nueima on the edge of the Jordan Valley. The tell was occupied in the Bronze Age but there are indications from surface collections that the site was also inhabited in the Neolithic. Several arrowheads were found here, one of which was tanged and pressure-flaked, and also denticulated, segmented sickle blades as well as other flint tools. Among the sickle blades were examples of the broad, flat, extensively pressure-flaked type found at Jericho in Pottery Neolithic A. Tell Ras Ain was thus definitely occupied in the later Neolithic, probably in phase 1.
Abu Gosh on the Mediterranean side of the Judean hills was also occupied in this phase. The surface level at the site contained a mixture of material from several periods which included some flints and sherds resembling Pottery Neolithic A artifacts from Jericho. No structures were found in this level although there were a few shallow pits dug into earlier levels. The site can have covered no more than 1000 square metres in this phase and so was quite small.
Perrot found a few Neolithic sherds in this level during his excavations at the site. They were coarse fragments with much straw filler and one of them had been roughly wiped on the surface. Among the other finds from this level were narrow, segmented, coarsely denticulated sickle blades and burins. Perrot also found many flaked and polished trapezoidal, oval and almond-shaped axes and other heavy tools which we now know mostly came from this level although a few have been found in level 1, the level beneath the surface layer containing remains of a Neolithic 2 settlement.
The pottery and sickle blades indicate that Abu Gosh was inhabited briefly at a time approximately contemporary with Jericho in Pottery Neolithic A though we do not know if this phase of occupation immediately succeeded the Neolithic 2 settlement. The axes and other flaked tools have been found on very few other Palestinian settlements but they closely resemble those found at Beisamun, Tannur and other Neolithic 3 sites at the headwaters of the Jordan.
Another site which was probably occupied in phase 1 is the cave of Tauamin in the Wadi Said west of Bethlehem. Neuville excavated a thin deposit here which contained a mixture of Bonze Age, Roman and Byzantium artifacts and also a hollow with Neolithic material. The hollow was about 2 metres across and within it was a homogeneous collection of flints and pottery. Among the flints were two small tanged arrowheads, one of which was winged, an oval flaked axe with tranchet edge and some segmented, denticulated, sickle blades. Several of the latter were wide and flat with thinning retouch of the type found at Jericho in phase 1.
The pottery was coarse with grit filler. One of the vessels was a small necked globular jar with a handle at the juction of the neck and body. There were also fragments of several bowls and cups in the hollow and some of these sherdshad had been painted in red with lines and chevrons. The other finds consisted of bone borers, spatulae and a needle, spindle whorls made from potsherds and a small basalt ring.
Some of these artifacts are characteristic of phase 1 and 2 in Palestine but the evidence of the sickle blades and the fabric and decoration of the pottery would suggest that the site was in fact occupied in phase 1.
A little more material of this stage was found in the upper levels of Khiam. This consisted of several denticulated sickle blades, a few of which were of the flat, pressure-flaked type found in Pottery Neolithic A Jericho. Some sherds of coarse, straw tempered pottery were also recovered which may be of phase 1 type. This evidence suggests that Khiam was used occasionally in phase 1 as it continued to be in later periods.
More phase 1 material was found by Kaplan at Lydda on the coastal plain. The pottery and flints were mixed with Chalcolithic artifacts but could clearly be distinguished from them. We do not know if there were any structures on the site but it seems to have been another small settlement which was not inhabited for long.
Several diagnostic types of flint tools were found, among them two small tanged arrowheads, one of which was also winged and notched. There were also segmented, coarsely denticulated sickle blades and a few of the wider, flat retouched, denticulated sickle blades found at Jericho. The other recognisably Neolithic tools consisted of flake scrapers and blades.
Some of the pottery fabrics were like Pottery Neolithic A vessels from Jericho being buff or brown in colour with much straw filler. Other vessels were made of a grey ware which contained a little straw and grit. The shapes of the vessels resembled the Jericho pots and they had the same handles. Some of these vessels were decorated with triangles or chevrons painted in red, occasionally on a cream slip as at Jericho. The surface of these vessels was then usually burnished.
Kaplan found a little more phase 1 material in his excavations at the site of Wadi Rabah situated a few kilometres north of Lydda and to the east of Tel Aviv. The diagnostic pottery consisted of some painted sherds and a knob handle resembling the material found at Jericho. Among the flints were several of the broad, segmented sickle blades also typical of phase 1 at Jericho. The principal phases of occupation at Wadi Rabah were in late Neolithic phase 2 and the Chalcolithic but this evidence indicates that the site was inhabited briefly in the preceding stage also.
More phase 1 material was found at Teluliot Batashi, another site excavated by Kaplan. This site is to the south of Lydda and is situated on a terrace in the Wadi Sorek. It consists of several small mounds and was first occupied in the Neolithic then in several subsequent periods. Two shelter-pits were found in level IV at the bottom together with much pottery and some flints of phase 1 type. The pottery consisted of plain and painted jars and bowls, some of which had ledge handles or pierced lugs for support. The painted designs consisted of broad bands, chevrons and triangles in red or brown paint. Some of both the painted and plain wares were burnished. Among the flints were several tiny arrowheads, segmented denticulated blades and an oval flaked axe with a round polished cutting edge.
Further south but also at the junction of the central plain and the hills of Judea lies the site of Tell Duweir. A painted sherd of phase 1 type was found here in Cave 6019. The sherd has since been lost so that it is not now possible to check this attribution. It is possible however that the site was occupied in Neolithic 3.
Givat Haparsa is situated in the dunes on the coast a little north of Ashdod. Some shallow dwelling pits or working hollows were excavated here and hearths were also found. The excavation yielded a few rough potsherds as well as a rich assemblage of flint tools and some carved stone objects.
The diagnostic flint tools were both tanged and tanged and winged arrowheads, mostly of which were small, denticulated segmented sickle blades and bifacially retouched tabular flint knives. All match the Jericho Pottery Neolithic A material very closely. The arrowheads were particularly numerous, 680 being found. Among the other flint tools were many small borers, another typical tool of phase 1 and 2 assemblages, and burins. There were also a few flaked oval axes and some trapezoidal flaked and polished axes.
The structure and flints at Givat Haparsa are all characteristic of phases 1 and 2 in Palestine. The pottery gives the best indication of when the site was actually occupied since it resembles the coarser Pottery Neolithic A wares at Jericho. This suggests that the site was inhabited in phase 1 although since the arrowhaeads are mostly developed types it may not have been used until quite late in that phase.
Nizzanim is in the dunes a little further south down the coast. Several pits about 2 metres in diameter and from 30 to 70 centimetres deep have been excavated here which may have been dwellings or working hollows. Associated with the pits were floors of crushed sandstone and hearths on beds of pebbles.
Among the flints were both tanged and tanged and winged arrowheads as well as rod points, all of which were pressure-flaked. The sickle blades were denticulated and usually segmented. The other diagnostic tools were tabular flint knives with pressure-flaked edges while the remaining flint tools consisted of burins and scrapers. There were also stone grinding tools and some ornamental objects, including turquoise beads. The pottery was distinctive and homogeneous. There were hole-mouth jars with flat or ring bases which had lug, knob or strap handles for lifting. Some of these jars had collar necks. The other vessels were simple bowl and cups. A number of vessles were painted with red designs of parallel lines or chevrons. The surface was then highly burnished.
Most of the flint tools are quite typical of phase 1 and 2 sites. The pottery is all of one kind, that of Pottery Neolithic A at Jericho, which indicates that Nizzanim was occupied in phase 1 only.
Ashkelon is another site in the dunes which was discovered when the new port was built. Perrot excavated it and found a number of pit dwellings from 2 to 5 metres in dimaeter and as much as 1 metre deep. There were also smaller hollows interpreted as storage pits and hearths.
The arrowheads were either tanged or leaf-shaped, often with very thin points. The sickle blades were segmented and denticulated. There were several flaked and polished trapezoidal and oval axes as well as bifacially retouched tabular flint knives. The remainder of the chipped stone assemblage consisted of burins, borers and scrapers and also a scrap of obsidian. No pottery was found at Ashkelon but there were a number of other finds, among them grinding tools, stone bowls and bone points. There were several ornamental objects such as bone bracelets and shell beads together with some spindle whorls. Th affinities of the flint tools are with other phase 1 sites but the absence of tanged and winged arrowheads and also pottery suggests that the site may have been occupied quite early in this phase.
A small site was discovered several years ago near Herzliya north of Tel Aviv and has since been excavated. This site too is in the dunes near the coast. Several small pits which were too small for dwelling, a number of trodden floors and some hearths were found here.
The chipped stone assemblage included several standard phase 1 and 2 types such as tabular flint pressure-flaked knives, segmented, denticulaated sickle blades and both tanged and tanged and winged arrowheads. There were also some tranchet arrowheads which have been found on several other coastal sites, some oval flaked axes and picks, scrapers, burins and blade knives. Among the sickle blades were several of the broad, flat segmented type found only in the Pottery Neolithic A levels at Jericho.
A number of coarse gritty potsherds were found in the excavation, some of which had been painted with a red wash. The most remarkable find was a complete jar which had a small flat base, splayed sides broken with a carination and a flat rim. The upper part of the body had a series of knobs and strap handles for lifting. The fabric was also a coarse, gritty ware and the surface was covered with a red wash. This vessel was found sitting upright in a pit, the position in which it had been made to stand.
The sickle blades are characteristic of phase 1 rather than phase 2. The pottery is of less diagnostic value since the complete jar is a unique object. The fabric of the pottery from Herzliya is coarse enough for phase 1 but the red wash finish is a typical phase 2 feature. I believe the site was probably occupied in phase 1 on the evidence of the flints though perhaps late in the phase but we cannot be sure on the evidence available.
Many surface stations with chipped stone assemblages characteristic of phases 1 and 2 have been found in the coastal dunes. No pottery has been found on these sites and it is not possible to decide from the flints alone in which phase they were inhabited. I will describe all of them in the next chapter in which I shall consider the last stage of the Neolithic but we should remember that some of these sites may have been occupied in this phase .....