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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Negev and Sinai

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

A decade ago hardly any Neolithic sites had been discovered further south in the Negev or Sinai. Several surveys of prehistoric sites have since been carried out in the Negev which have brought to light a number of Neolithic sites and a survey in northern Sinai has located several more there. Rothenberg (See *1 Below) has carried out extensive surveys of later sites throughout the Sinai Peninsula in the course of which other Neolithic sites have been discovered.

The Halutza dunes are situated to the south of the Nahal Besor in the northern Negev. Traces of Neolithic 2 occupation were found here by Noy in 1966 who picked up characteristic tanged and winged arrowheads on the surface of the subsoil between the sand dunes (See Figure 3 and Pages 3-5 in *2 Below). Burian and Friedmann surveyed the same area of the northern Halutza dunes in the following years and found at least four more Neolithic 2 sites: numbers 83-86-87-89 (See Page 28ff in *3 Below). The assemblages from these sites consisted principally of tanged arrowheads some of which were notched and winged and blades and borers. There were very few flake tools and no sickle blades or axes. Two more Neolithic sites have been found by the same workers around Nizzana on the south side of the Halutza dunes. The one found by Noy had tanged and winged arrowheads and burins on blades struck from double-ended cores (See Pages 39 and 41 in *4 Below). A third new site recently discovered by Burian and Friedrann has over 800 arrowheads and a considerable amount of other material.

More sites have been discovered around Nahal Boqer and Nahal Zin due south of Beersheba in the northern Negev. The Nahal Boqer site lies on a hill above the wadi on the south side. The chipped stone industry from this site was quite comprehensive with numerous tanged and notched arrowheads - a few sickle blades - borers and end-scrapers on blades as well as burins - flake scrapers and flaked tranchet axes (See Page 16ff in *5 Below).

Another site - Nahal Divshon - lies on the floor of the Nahal Zin below Sede Boqer. This site has been known for several years and a collection of tanged arrowheads with wings or notches and tranchet axes from the site was published by Cohen and Noy in 1968 (See Page 14 in *6 Below). Nahal Divshon was excavated by a team from Southern Methodist University in 1969 and 1970. They found a dense concentration of artifacts in an area of 90 square metres but calculated that the site extended over 2500 square metres altogether (See Page 349 in *7 Below). The occupation deposit was extremely thin but a firepit and several hearths were found. Almost all the artifacts were chipped stone tools - two grooved stones being the only other finds. The flint assemblage had a very high proportion of cores and waste which indicates that the cores themselves were prepared on the site as well as the artifacts. This is a feature of a number of Negev sites but not of the Neolithic 2 settlements further north in Palestine and Syria. Most of the cores were prismatic and pyramidal and only a few discoid or double-ended. Blades and retouched blades were not particularly common but there were some pressure-flaked tanged and winged arrowheads (See Figure 12-7 ibid). The most numerous tools were the burins; many were dihedral burins but there was much variation in the types. End-scrapers on blades and flake scrapers were another major group of tools and there were many flake tools such as notched pieces and denticulates. A few flaked axes were found but no sickle blades were recovered at all. Servello thought that the specialised nature of the artifact assemblage and the absence of dwelling structures indicated that the site was a seasonal hunter's camp (See Page 369 ibid). Carbon 14 determinations were obtained from three charcoal samples which gave dates of 6220 120 B.C. Tx-1125 / 6670 140 B.C. I-5501 and 6950 180 B.C. SMU-3. All the samples were obtained from near the present ground surfaces which probably accounts for the uncomfortably large span of time between the dates. They do all fall within the 7th millennium and so place the occupation on the same horizon as dated Neolithic 2 sites in Palestine and further north.

One possible Neolithic 2 site was found by the Southern Methodist team on the heights of the Har Harif (See Page 83 in *8 Below). The site - G2 - consisted of a thin scatter of artifacts on a steep slope of Har Roman. The main tool types were end-scrapers on flakes - denticulates and notched flakes but there were a few blade tools including backed sickle blades and fragments of bifacially retouched arrowheads. This assemblage is Neolithic and has some characteristics in common with Nahal Divshon so the site may also have been occupied by a Neolithic 2 group.

A number of Neolithic sites have also been found in the recent survey of Jebel Meghara in northern Sinai (See *9 Below). It is known that their assemblages included burins - end-scrapers and arrowheads with some grinding stones and on this evidence they have been assigned to the Neolithic. As other Neolithic 2 sites are now known in Sinai it is likely that some of these in the Jebel Meghara are also Neolithic 2 but we cannot be sure until we know nore about them.

Rothenberg has now discovered Neolithic sites as far west as the Suez Canal on the south edge of the Jebel Meghara and in southern Sinai (See Page 32 and 35 in *1 Below). Several of these sites consisted of stone structures with remains of burials as well as scatters of flint implements and one in the Wadi Saal lay next to malachite deposits which may have been exploited by the inhabitants of the settlement. There were indications at some stations that turquoise was also extracted. The dating of these sites rests entirely upon the typology of the artifacts for no organic naterial is available for C-14 determinations. I have seen the flints from a few of these sites and have ascertained that they consisted of numerous blades some of which were struck off double-ended cores - pressure-flaked tanged arrowheads and other types. These pieces definitely appear to be Neolithic 2 types but there is other material in the collections which may be later in date. It is not possible to say yet whether all the sites described as Neolithic or PPNB are in fact that early. Nevertheless these recent discoveries do extend the known distribution of Levantine Neolithic 2 sites over a much wider area than hitherto - possibly as far as Suez.

I have associated all these sites in the Negev and Sinai with the Palestinian group but it is apparent that their material remains are somewhat different. In the first place they have fairly small artifact inventories consisting for the most part of flint tools. Although some of the arrowhead types and axes are the same as on Palestinian sites others are not. Pyramidal and prismatic cores were used much more frequently on these sites than further north and flake tools were more common. The sites themselves were usually surface scatters of flint with little or no occupation deposit and so different from the substantial settlements and tell sites found in Palestine. Our knowledge of all Neolithic 2 sites in the Negev and Sinai is too scanty as yet for us to declare that they fall into another regional group of their own but they are sufficiently different to be classed as a sub-group associated with the Palestinian sites .....


*1 Sinai Explorations (1967-1972)
B. Rothenberg in Bulletin Museum of Haaretz
Volume 14 (Pages 31-42) [LC # AM 79 I8 T44a]

*2 Survey of PreHistoric Sites in the Halutza Dunes
T. Noy in Miteaufat Haeven (1970)
Volume 10 (Pages 1-10) [LC # DS 111 A1 M5]

*3 PreHistoric Hunters in the Dunes of Halutza
Burian and Friedmann Miteaufat Haeven (1973)
Volume 11 (Pages 27-34) [LC # DS 111 A1 M5]

*4 Nizzana: A Neolithic Site in the Negev
T. Noy in Miteaufat Haeven (1960)
Volume 2 (Pages 35-41) [LC # DS 111 A1 M5]

*5 Nahal Boqer: an Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Site
T. Noy and R. Cohen in Miteaufat Haeven (1974)
Volume 12 (Pages 15-25/78-79) [LC # DS 111 A1 M5]

*6 A Neolithic Site Near Ein Mor
Cohen and Noy Miteaufat Haeven (1968)
Volume 9 (Page 14) [DS 111 A1 M5]

*7 Nahal Divshon: A PrePottery Neolithic B Hunting Camp
A. Servello (1976) in PreHistory and PaleoEnvirinments
in the Central Negev
(Pages 349-370) [LC # GN 855 I75 P7]

*8 Pre-Historic Sites Near Har Harif
A. Marks et al in Israel Exploration Journal
Volume 22 (Pages 73 - 85) [1972]
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 I87

*9 PreHistoric Sites in Jebel Meghara
J. Phillips et al Preliminary Report

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium