HOME / Table of Contents = Civilizations - Cultures - Areas - Regions - Prehistory
Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)

Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Munhatta (Pages 223-226)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

Munhatta lies on the west side of the Jordan valley about 11 kilometres south of the Sea of Galilee. It is situated on a high terrace at the point where the Wadi Bireh opens out into the Jordan valley. The depth of deposit on the site amounts to some 3 metres which has been divided into six archaeological layers, levels 6 to 3 which are Neolithic 2 in character and levels 2 and 1 which belong to the Late Neolithic (See Page 36 in *1 Below) and Chalcolithic respectively. Erosion of the site has always been severe and in consequence none of the buildings is preserved very high up.

Level 6 consisted of the remains of the earliest settlement founded on the natural subsoil. There were earth floors laid on beds of stones, probably the floors of dwellings (See Pages 271 in *2 Below), hearths and much occupation debris.

The first structure found in level 5 was a long wall which ran across the site from east to west. The foundations were built of large stones and the superstructure of mud-bricks. To the south of this wall there was a paved area and also a floor with a number of hearths (See Page 267 in *3 Below). A large platform was also found made of five large basalt slabs with channels cut in them. Associated with this structure was a large trough with a pebble floor. The purpose of these structures is unknown but one would suppose that they were used for some craft process.

The buildings in level 4 had a single rectangular room with a plaster floor which in some instances was polished. These rooms had walls at least 4 metres long made of mud-brick reinforced with stone footings along the outer edge. The north wall of each room had a plastered niche (See Page 249 in *4 Below) like that found in one of the buildings at Jericho but without the upright stone. These buildings were separated by narrow passages and courts in which were found hearths and the vestiges of stone structures which may have had a domestic function.

A number of plaster floors were also found in level 3, presumably the remains of single-roomed structures similar to those in level 4. These were accompanied by buildings of a different kind and of uncertain purpose. One of these buildings had a large circular court paved with stones which may have been partially roofed. It was surrounded by a ring of chambers each about 3 by 5 or 6 metres in size. Traces of another apparently similar structure were found a little to the west (ibid) and a third in the northern part of the site (See Page 269 in *2 Below).

The plaster floor buildings of level 4 contained hearths and benches which gave them the appearance of dwellings, an interpretation strengthened by the fact that they were the only numerous and substantial structures found in this level. Their presumed successors in level 3, the plaster floors, were also quite common. This makes it likely that the large, unusual circular buildings had another, perhaps communal function.

The inhabitants of Munhatta 3 abandoned the site and in the subsequent weathering its remains were gradually hidden beneath a layer of sandy soil (ibid). The site had all but disappeared when it was resettled much later on, an indication of the long period which elapsed between Munhatta 3 and 2.

Most of the flint tools at Munhatta were made on blades struck from keeled and other double-ended cores. The most numerous group was the arrowheads all of which had pronounced tangs. The principal types had wings or sharp shoulders and some even had pairs of barbs on the tang itself. Some arrowheads were leaf or diamond-shaped without shoulders but relatively few were notched. These tools were usually retouched by pressure-flaking which was often quite extensive.

Sickle blades were also very common and these had finely-denticulated cutting edges with little other retouch. The remaining tools were much less abundant but they included the same types found on other Palestinian Neolithic 2 sites: end-scrapers on blades and flakes, dihedral and angle burins and borers. Large flaked tools were not apparently found in any numbers at Munatta as they were at Jericho. Very little obsidian was found at Munhatta. A piece found in level 6 came from source 1e-f near Acigol (See Page 81 in *5), the same area as the piece analysed from El Khiam. Obsidian from this area is very rare on Neolithic 2 sites in the Levant as much of the Cappadocian obsidian which was used came from Ciftlik.

Ground stone tools were particularly abundant at Munhatta. There were the same stepped and open-ended querns as at Jericho and elsewhere together with rubbers, grooved stones, polishers, pestles and mortars made of basalt or limestone. Fragments of stone dishes and bowls were also found but the only objects of adornment were a few discoid and cylindrical greenstone beads. Bone tools vere recovered at Munhatta but these have not been discussed in any of the reports which have appeared so far and I have not exanined them.

Clay figurines of humans and animals were another very common find at Muahatta. Many of the anthropomorpic figurines were of similar shape and somewhat different from those found on other sites. Each was made of a clay sausage flattened at one end to make a base. The other end was pinched flat and little pieces of clay were applied to form the eyes and nose. Both males and. females were represented. The animals were usually horned quadrupeds, some of which had a marked dorsal ridge. Some were obviously cattle and others may have been pigs or sheep and goats. Pawns and other abstract shapes were quite common as at Ramad.

Two C-14 determinations were obtained from soil samples in an attempt to date the Neolithic 2 occupation. These gave results of 5420 400 B.C. M-1792 and 7210 500 B.C. M-1793 (See Pages 178-9:12:1970 in *6 Below). These dates have large stated errors because of the unsatisfactory nature of the material dated and do not agree with each other. They give us no more than a very general idea of the age of the deposits.

One can obtain a more precise idea of the time when the site was occupied from typological comparisons of the artifacts found there. The material is all Neolithic 2 in character which may be equated in general terms with PPNB Jericho yet there are certain aspects of the Munhatta flint industry which are distinctive. The arrowhead types are quite elaborate compared with those at Jericho and Beidha VI to I and have much more pressure-flaking than on these two dated sites. Thus although the occupation at Munhatta may have overlapped with the sequences at Jericho and Beidha it probably continued into late Neolithic 2. This would mean that the site was occupied in the Middle or late 7th millennium BC .....

BIBLIOGRAPHY

*1 The Late Neolithic in Palestine in Levant
A. M. T. Moore (1973) Volume 5 [Pages 36 - 68]
Library of Congress # DS 56 L48

*2 Munhatta in Israel Exploration Journal
J. Perrot [1966] Voume 16 (Pages 269 - 271)
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 I87

*3 Munhatta in Israel Exploration Journal
J. Perrot [1967] Volume 17 (Pages 267 - 268)
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 I87

*4 Munhatta in Israel Exploration Journal
J. Perrot [1965] Volume 15 (Pages 248 - 249)
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 I87

*5 Source Areas for Obsidian Recovered at
Munhatta - Beisamoun - Hazorea and El Khiam

G. Wright and A. Gordus (1969) Volume 19
[Pages 79 - 88] Israel Exploration Journal
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 I87

*6 Radiocarbon: American Journal of Science Supplement
(Library Congress # QC 798 D3 A48)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium