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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Palestinian Sites (Pages 272-273)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

The basic economy of the principal settlements in the Palestinian group was quite similar to that of West Syrian and Middle Euphrates sites although there.were differences in detail. The economy of PPNB Jericho depended upon agriculture and many of the same species were grown as on sites further north. Two-row hulled barley and emmer were both cultivated as they had been in the PPNB but two-grained einkorn was also planted now (See Page 356 in *1 Below). Hopf thought that the domesticated einkorn was introduced from further north because it was believed then to have been domesticated in southern Turkey (See Page 1079 in *2 Below), an area where the wild form grows prolifically today. Wild einkorn probably grew in the Levant in the 7th millennium as well as in Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and the Zagros, the regions wgere it is found today, because the cooler and moister climate would have suited it. We have already noted that einkorn was probably domesticated over a wider area which included northern Syria than was thought likely a decade ago. It is possible that the area of dommestication even extended into Palestine, in which case the Jericho cultivated einkorn could have been developed near the site.

Peas, chick-peas, lentils and horse beans were all grown at Jericho in this phase. No legumes were found in PPNA levels so they may not have been cultivated that early. Almonds, figs, capers and Salvadora charcoals were found (See Page 36 in *3 Below) so the edible nuts and fruits of these species were probably collected for food. Ash, plane and tamarisk charcoals were also identified which help us to reconstruct the environment of the site. Asb, plane, almond and fig would all have grown in the wooded Judean hills a little to the west of the site. The ash, plane and fig probably grew in the well-watered wadi bottoms and so may not be truly typical of the vegetation of the surrounding hills which probably now carried a thin tree cover of the open forest type. The tamarisk, capers and Salvadora would have come from the semi-arid steppe of the Jordan valley bottom.

The plant economy of PPNB Jericho was based upon the growing of at least three cereals and several legumes, all of which were cultivated further north. A number of wild nuts and fruits were also collected in season to supplement the diet. We may deduce from these plant remains, as we did at Abu Hureyra, that Jericho was inhabited all the year round.

Far fewer gazelle were eaten in the PPNB than in the PPNA for they constituted only 17.86% of the total meat available (See Page 46 in *4 Below). More goats were killed and this szecies came to replace the gazelle as the major food animal (See Page 53 ibid). Most of the goats were thought to have been the wild Capra aegagrus but two with twisted horn cores were believed to have been domesticated. Several sheep bones were also found in the PPNB levels (See Page 261 in *5 Below), more than in the PPNA but sheep were still far less common than goat.

Pigs of a type thought to be the wild Sus scrofa were another important source of food. These animals would have been common in the thickets along the Jordan and its tributary wadis. Some bones of the large Bos primigenius were also found (See Page 46 in *4 Below), enough to suggest that this species also made a significant contribution to the meat diet.

Considerable quantities of fox and other carnivore bones were found in the PPNB at Jericho (See Figure 1 in *6 Below) although they were less numerous than in the PPNA. If the hypothesis that they were caught for their pelts is correct then this activity was still important. Leopards were also killed, perhaps for their skins or because they were dangerous predators.

The replacement of gazelle by goat with sheep as the most important meat source of PPNB Jericho closely parallels the change from a gazelle to a sheep-dominated economy at Abu Hureyra. The goats at Jericho were probably herded for otherwise they could not have provided the regular supply of food that the inhabitants required. Cattle and pigs were an important additional source of meat at Jericho as the latter had been at Tell Ramad. Jericho combines aspects of the animal exploitation on both Middle Euphrates and West Syrian sites.

A report has recently been published on the animal bones found at Sheikh Ali which makes it clear that the inhabitants were living in much the same way as people on other settlements in Palestine. Ovicaprines were the most numerous animals killed (See Figure 1 in *7 Below) with cattle second in importance. Meat was also obtained from pigs and gazelle but there were relatively few of these. The cattle varied in size, a few being so large that they may have been Bos primigenius while others were much smaller. Jarman believes that the ages at which the sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and gazelle were slaughtered indicates that all were controlled by man (See Page 55 ibid). He suggests that the ovicaprines were exploited for their milk and wool products because most were killed in their third year. The cattle were also slaughtered at about the same age because it took them that long to reach their full weight. In contrast most of the pigs were killed in their first or second year. Pigs breed rapidly and so most could be killed young for their meat without reducing the reproductive capacity of the herd (See Page 57 ibid).

Such close control of several herds of animals has not yet been noticed on other sites but that may simply be because the animal bones have not been examined in sufficient detail. The general pattern of large numbers of ovicaprines being killed is the same as at Jericho, Munhatta and on sites in the Euphrates Valley while the still important if secondary place held by cattle, pigs and gazelle accords with the evidence from Ramad and other Palestinian and West Syrian sites.

No plant remains were recovered at Munhatta but a sample of animal bones from the site has been studied. Ovicaprines accounted for 33% of the bones and of these sheep were about twice as numerous as goats. Gazelle (27.3%) were the second and wild boar (22.6%) the third major source of food. Cattle (12.7%) also contributed much meat to the food supply. These were very mixed in size, some being as large as Bos primigenius and others somewhat smaller. The only other food animals were a few roe deer, the remaining bones all being attributed to carnivores.

Ducos thought that on morphological grounds all these animals were wild and therefore hunted yet the pattern of exploitation has much in common with that of Jericho, Sheikh Ali and Tell Ramad. Most of the ovicaprines were killed between one and three years of age (Figure 4 in *8 Below) with the peak falling in the third year. This is the same distribution as at Sheikh Ali where it has been suggested that the ovicaprines were herded. It is likely that the gazelles were also controlled in some way at Munhatta as they seem to have been at Jericho and elsewhere.

Some information has been published about a collection of animal bones from Beisamun. The precise phase of occupation from which the sample was obtained has not been made clear but it is likely that the material came from deposits that were laid down either late in Neolithic 2 or early in the next stage. Cattle bones were the most numerous (35.9%) and ovicaprines (29.4%) second in importance; these have been identified as Capra hircus aegagrus and Ovis orientalis (Table 1 ibid). Pigs (24.4%) were also important in the diet but gazelle (7.2%) and deer (1.7%) were killed in very small numbers. Ducos's studies make it clear than many of the cattle were killed at maturity between four and 6.5 years (Figure 3 ibid). This pattern, which to some extent resembles that at Sheikh Ali, suggests that the herds were controlled by man. Most of the ovicaprines on the other hand were killed when they were quite young which probably also indicates control by man as we have seen on other sites although Ducos believes on the same evidence that they were hunted in the wild (See Page 271 ibid). The ages at death of the pigs do not indicate that they were domesticated or controlled even though so many were killed (See Page 270 ibid).

Animal exploitation in the Neolithic 2 levels at Khiam depended almost entirely upon caprines (See Page 79 ibid). Gazelle, cattle, an equid and wild pigs were also killed but only in very small numbers. The dependence upon caprines here was more marked than at other Palestinian sites. This was partly because the caprines were better adapted to the broken country around El Khiam than other species.

The inhabitants of El Khiam would not have been cultivators as there was no agricultural land in the neighbourhood yet the site was quite extensive and the artifacts were typical of a well established settlement. The wild plant foods in the area would not have been sufficient to have supported the inhabitants all the year round. They were probably a semi-sedentary group who engaged in herding and practised transhumance like their predecessors.

The plant remains and animal bones provide fairly clear evidence that the economy of the settlement sites in Palestine depended upon cereal agriculture and herding. This helps us to interpret the way of life of the inhabitants of other sites from which no organic material has been recovered. A number of the surface sites in Palestine have yielded a fairly broad range of stone tools indicating that the people who lived on them carried out many different activities. The inhabitants of several of these camps and settlements such as Tahuneh, Tantur, Tell el Ful and Tell Nasbeh certainly lived principally by some combination of cereal agriculture and herding. The same was probably true of the excavated settlements at Abu Gosh and Tell Farah (North).

The economy of Nahal Oren in Neolithic 2 was an interesting variation of the pattern on other sites in Palestine. Emmer and barley were both eaten and the emmer, at least, was cultivated (Table 6 in *9 Below). Lentils and vetch were probably also grown. The fruits of the olive, carob and pomegranate were eaten; the last is particularly interesting as it supports the identification of pomegranate charcoal in PPNA levels at Jericho and proves that the tree grew in Palestine much earlier than has been thought hitherto. These trees and the holmoak which is also attested are all Mediterrarean species confirming that the site was surrounded by Meiterranean forest. The cultivated cereals and legumes suggest that the inhabitants of the small Neolithic 2 settlement grew several crops which probably provided a good deal of their food.

They still killed considerable quantities of gazelle, 76.7% of the bones in this phase (Table 3 ibid), but fewer than in Neolithic 1. A smaller proportion of the gazelle were young animals indicating that gazelle herding was being given up. 13.9% of the bones were from goats, an increase which suggests that this species was slowly being substituted for gazelle in the diet. Even so, the percentage of caprines at Nahal Oren was much lower than at settlement sites elsewhere in the Levant, another indication perhaps that Nahal Oren was occupied early in Neolithic 2 before goat and sheep herding was adopted elsewhere or simply that the change took place much more gradually here. The only other animals eaten in any numbers were pig (4.4%) and cattle (2.4%) while a few fallow and roe deer vere still hunted. The proportions of swine and cattle killed increased slightly in Neolithic 2, a trend which was much more marked at Jericho.

It is possible that the inhabitants of Nahal Oren still practised transhumance but the evidence suggests that, if it took place at all, it was much less important than in earlier phases. The settlement was smaller than in Neolithic 1 and its inhabitants could have obtained much of the food they needed in the vicinity of the site. Now that they were growing several crops they would have had to spend much of the year on the site. Some herdsman might still have left the settlement to watch the gazelle but if the goats were herded, as seems probable, they could have been pastured quite adequately all the year round in the neighbourhood.

The nearby site of Iraq Barud has produced a fairly limited range of material indicating that very few activities were carried out there. Such a site may have been simply a herdsman's camp used by a small group whose homes were at another larger settlement. Rakafet, which has produced exiguous Neolithic 2 remains (See Page 225 in *10 Below), may have been a similar herdsman's camp.

I now wish to consider the economies of two settlements, Beidha and Nahal Divshon, belonging to sub-groups of the Palestinian cluster of sites but which lie well to the south-east and south of Palestine.

The inhabitants of the Neolithic 2 settlement at Beidha depended uupon farming for their existence. Information about the plants they used was obtained from imprints of vegetable matter left in the clay of the walls and roof of one building (See Page 61 in *11) which may not give a truly representative picture of the plant economy of the whole settlement. The most common imprints were of two-row hulled barley. This was the wild form (Hordeum spontaneum) but the grains were larger than those of the truly wild plant, a morphological change which led Helbaek to suggest that the plant was being cultivated (See Page 62 ibid). Emmer was the other cereal grown. Considerable quantities of wild pistachio nuts, acorns and several legumes, among them vetch (Vicia narbonense), medic (Medicago species) and cock's comb (Onobrychis crista-galli) were collected. The bulb of the bulbous barley (Hordeum bulbosum) was eaten, a plant which was also collected at Abu Hureyra.

Helbaek has pointed out that for barley and emmer to have been cultivated the rainfall around Beidha must have been higher than it is today (See Page 66 ibid). This problem has been studied by Raikes who, while conceding that the rainfall may have been a little higher, believes that because the run-off from the surrounding hills was concentrated in the valley in which the site was situated the soil would have been moist enough for farming even if the mean rainfall was quite low (See Page 68ff ibid). In fact as we have seen from other evidence the effective rainfall in this region would have been significantly higher in the early 7th millennium than it is now so that the environs of the site would have been quite favourable for early agriculture.

Caprine bones at Beidha comprised 86.5% of the total collected (See Page 67 in *12 Below) so there is no doubt that these were the main source of meat. Both bezoar and beden were present and a high proportion of the remains were of young animals from which Perkins has deduced that they were domesticated. Both had been common in the area since the Pleistocene because they were well adapted to the rugged terrain. The other possible food species killed were Bos Primigenius, gazelle, wild boar, an equid, hyrax, hare and also some birds.

These studies have established that the inhabitants of Beidha were growing barley and emmer and probably herding goats. They still collected many other food plants and hunted other animals in the vicinity of the site so that agriculture was not perhaps so broadly based as on some of the settlerent sites further north. Nevertheless it is interesting that cultivated emmer and barley and flocks of goats formed the basis of the economy at Beidha for the same combination has been found on other settlement sites in the Levant.

Nahal Divshon had much less substantial remains than Beidha and relatively little organic material was found there. Nevertheless the pollen and faunal samples that were collected are of much interest. A little of the pollen proved to be from olive, almond, Aleppo pine and pistachio trees (See Page 66 in *13 Below), all Mediterranean species that were growing in the area during the 7th millennium. Most of the pollen was from grasses, Chenopodiaceae and Compositae. Some of the grains of grass pollen were very large and are thought to have come from domesticated cereals that might have been cultivated around Nahal Divshon. The site lies at the bottom of the Nahal Zin where run-off from the surrounding hills was concentrated. This would have been one of the most favourable spots in the area for simple farming.

A few faunal remains of four ruminants have been identified from Nahal Divshon. One was a Bos primigenius tooth, four were horn core fragments of fallow deer and the others bones of ibex and gazelle (See Page 69 in *14 Below). Fallow deer prefer a wooded environment and their presence in the Nahal Divshon area thus accords well with the arboreal pollen evidence. It is not known if any of these animals were herded although on analogy with sites elsewhere it is possible that the ibex and gazelle were.

The econony of Nahal Divshon cannot be described with certainty because of the paucity of evidence. The site was inhabited by a small group who may have been cultivating cereals and who doubtless collected other edible plants. It remains possible that they herded ibex or gazelle but the other animals were probably hunted. The pattern of life may not have differed much from that on other small settlement sites further north like Nahal Oren.

I have discussed settlements throughout the Levant for which there is some economic evidence from organic remains. There is still a large group of sites to be considered which in the 7th millennium were situated in the open forest and steppe bordering the heavily wooded areas of the Levant. These are the surface sites in Sinai and the Negev, on the Transiordan plateau, around Palmyra and in the Jebel Abdul Aziz. All were occupied during the expansion of settlement that took place in Neolithic 2. Few of these sites have been excavated and there is very little direct evidence for their economies. In consequence it is necessary to consider other sources of information in order to determine how their inhabitants lived.

Some of the sites were small, that is less than 500 square metres in area, with few types of chipped stone tools and hardly any other artifacts. I think it probable that these were stations occupied briefly by small groups of hunters or foragers. Examples of such sites are Sheikh Abdul Aziz and Khazne Cave I in the Jebel Abdul Aziz and some of the small stations near Palmyra, in the Azraq basin and in the Jebel Meghara in Sinai. Nacharini, several of the small stations found by Neuville near Jaffa and sites 62/0, 64A and 70 near Ashdod are similar kinds of site in the Mediterranean zone. These stations were used by people who probably belonged to larger groups inhabiting camps or settlements either in the surrounding region or further away. Hunting and collecting still played a part in the Neolithic 2 econoy providing a useful supplement to the diet even on large settlement sites.

Most of the other surface sites had another function. A few like those in the Wadi Dhobai were as small as the hunting stations but others were much larger. All had a fairly wide range of chipped stone tools and on some there were remains of structures. A few bones of fox, badger (Meles species), gazelle and rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) were found at Wadi Dhobai B (See Page 294 in *15 Below) but these do not throw much light on the economy of the site although the badger bones are useful supplementary evidence that its environment was more wooded than it is now.

These camps and settlments were occupied for longer than the hunting stations by groups that were sometimes about the size of the bands of earlier stages but which were often much larger. These larger groups could not have stayed together very long in the steppe if they were existing solely by hunting and gathering. It follows that they must have lived in some other way that enabled them to exploit the resources of the steppe for perhaps several months of the year at a time. In Neolithic 1 quite large semi-sedentary groups Seem to have lived off herds of animals which they controlled. Such transhimiant groups may now have extended their range into the steppe as the agricultural population of the Mediterranean and open forest zones grew. One major economic development which seems well-attested on Neolithic 2 settlements would have been important here and this is the domestication of the goat and possibly the sheep in the Euphrates region. The goat and sheep would have been able to graze satisfactorily on the steppe and by providing milk as well as meat were more useful as a regular source of food than herded gazelle would have been. These groups would have depended upon their herds for much of their food but would also have hunted wild animals and collected edible plants in season. They may even have grown a few crops in more favoured areas.

Such pastoral groups may have been able to live at their camps and settlements for quite extended periods as even the steppe was a richer source of grazing and edible plants in the 7th millennium than it is now. This might have been the way of life of the people who lived on the sites near Palmyra. The hills of Jebel el Abyad and Jebel Abu Rujmein would have carried open forest and even some of the valleys would have been lightly wooded while the broader valleys and open plains were covered with park-like steppe. Such an environment would have been particularly suitable for pastoral groups. Others may have been transhumant following a seasonal progression from camps in one region to camps in another with complementary resources. This may have been the way of life of the inhabitants of the sites around Nizzana and the Halutza dunes who wintered in the lowlands then moved into the Negev highlands to sites like Nahal Boqer and G2 in the Har Harif during the summer, a continuation of a way of life practised in the same region in Neolithic 1. The same may also have been true of the inhabitants of the larger sites on the coast of Palestine. There are several clusters of these as though particular areas were visited repeatedly by transhumant groups.

Pastoralism is still the way of life of the Beduin in the Levant today, a testimony to its efficiency in exploiting the resources of the steppe over many millennia. Some Beduin move frequently from place to place while others are almost sedentary. Most engage in hunting and collecting in due season and some may plant crops so in these respects their way of life has a certain amount in common with the model I have suggested for the economy of the Neolithic 2 surface camps and settlements in the open forest and steppe zones. It would be wrong, however, to press the analogy very far because the Beduin of the Levant today and for at least the last two millennia have been true nomads. Nomads in this sense exist in symbiosis with settled farmers, exchanging the products of their flocks for the fruits of cultivation. They will spend part of the year on agricultural land grazing their flocks on stubble after the harvest. They depend upon the towns and cities for manufactured goods which are essential to their way of life. Some elements of the symbiosis between pasturalists and farmers way have originated in Neolithic 2 but nomadism in the strict sense did not develop in the Levant until much later.

The most important economic development in Neolithic 2 was the adoption of agriculture throughout the Levant. At the same time a series of villages were established which were occupied all the year round. These villages were in general larger than settlements in Neolithic 1 and their inhabitants more numerous.

Agriculture in most of these villages was broadly based since several cereals and legumes were grown. Varieties of emmer, barley and einkorn were the principal cereals and lentils and vetch the most common legumes although peas, chick-peas and horse bean were also cultivated.

On most Neolithic 2 sites far more ovicaprines were killed than in Neolithic 1 and the proportion of gazelle meat in the diet was much reduced. This change in preference seems to have taken place during the aceramic Neolithic phase at Abu Hureyra but at most sites the new pattern coincided with the beginning of Neolithic 2 occupation. Along the Euphrates sheep were preferred to goat but in Palestine at Jericho and Sheikh Ali and to the east of the Rift Valley at Beidha goats were the main animal eaten. An exception was Munhatta where sheep outnumbered goats. On some sites in the Jordan valley there are indications that other species were as important in the diet as the ovicaprines. Cattle bones were abundant at Sheikh Ali while quite common at Munhatta; at Beisamun they were the most numerous animal. Pigs were also eaten in considerable quantities at these sites and at Jericho. On all sites a number of other species were eaten as well and their meat contributed significantly to the diet.

There are differing views about the manner in which these animals were exploited. Very few bones have been found which show the morphological changes traditionally associated with domestication. The ages at which animals are killed is now thought to be a more reliable indicaticn of man's control of herds of animals. There is abundant evidence from Neolithic 2 sites at which this has been studied that goats, gazelle, cattle and pigs were being killed in a regular manner. The abrupt change to goat and sheep-dominated economies early in Neolithic 2 and the ages at which the goats were killed suggest that man was controlling these animals particularly closely. Almost certainly they were being herded as if they were domesticated. The other principal food animals were probably also being herded at some sites. At other sites the exploitation of these animals varied from some form of loose herding to selective hunting. The other animals eaten in smaller quaatities were probably hunted.

Since a number of Neolithic 2 settlements are known to have been occupied continuously for several centuries their economy must have been stable. Cereals quickly exhaust the soil of essential nutrients but this problem was overcome without recourse to shifting cultivation. The likely system of cultivation in this case was short fallow in which part of the land around the village was left fallow for a few years between crops. The alternation of cereals with legumes would have helped maintain fertility for the legumes are important fixers of nitrogen in the soil. The herds of animals belonging to the settlements would have been grazed on the fallow and the cultivated fields after the harvest. In this way the land would also have been manured.

The transhumant and pastoral groups would have depended more upon their herds. The transhumant groups were semi-sedentary, following a seasonal pattern of movement in search of grazing and wild foods. Not all the pastoral groups seem to have moved so frequently but they too were essentially semi-sedentary. Pastoralism as a way of life seems to have been established for the first time in the Levant in Neolithic 2 .....


(Only References in English are Included)

*1 Plant Remains and Early Farming in Jericho
M. Hopf [1969] (Pages 355 - 359) in
The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals
Library of Congress # S 494 R47 1968b

*2 Distribution of Wild Wheats and Barley
J. Harlan and D. Zohary [1966] Volume 153
(Pages 1074 - 1080) in Science
Library of Congress # Q 1 S35

*3 The Ecological Interpretation of
Ancient Charcoals From Jericho

A. C. Western [1971] Volume 3 (Pages 31 - 40) in
Levant - Library of Congress # DS 56 L48

*4 The Primary Food Animals of the Jericho Tell
From the Proto-Neolithic to the Byzantine Period

J. Clutton-Brock [1971] Volume 2 (Pages 41 - 55) in
Levant --- Library of Congress # DS 56 L48

*5 The Sheep of Early Jericho
J. Clutton-Brock and H. Uerpmann [1974] Volume 1
(Pages 261 - 274) in Journal Archaeology Science

*6 Carnivore Remains From the Excavations of the Jericho Tell
J. Clutton-Brock [1969] (Pages 337 - 345) in
The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals
Library of Congress # S 494 R47 1968b

*7 The Fauna and Economy of Tel Eli (1974)
M. Jarman in Volume 12 [Pages 50 - 72] of
Miteaufat Haeven: DS 111 A1 M5

*8 Methodology and Results of the Study of the Earliest
Domesticated Animals in the Near East (Palestine)

P. Ducos (1969) in [Pages 265 - 275] of
Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals
Library of Congress # S 494 R47 1968b

*9 Recent Excavations at Nahal Oren in Israel
T. Noy et al [1973] Volume 39 (Pages 75 - 99) in
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Library of Congress # DA 670 E13 P8

*10 Raqefet Cave [1971] (Pages 225 - 226)
T. Noy and E. Higgs - Volume 21
Israel Exploration Journal
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 I87

*11 Pre-Pottery Neolithic Farming at Beidha (1966)
H. Helbaek: A Summary by D. Kirkbride
[Pages 61 - 66] in Palestine Exploration Quarterly
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 Q57

*12 The Fauna From Madamagh and Beidha
D. Perkins [1966] (Pages 8 - 72) in
Palestine Exploration Quarterly
Library of Congress # DS 111 A1 Q57

*13 Late Quaternary PaleoEnvironments of PreHistoric
Settlements in the Avdat / Aqev Area
A. Horowitz in PreHistory and PaleoEnvirinments
in the Central Negev
[Pages 57 - 68]
Library of Congress # GN 855 I75 P7

*14 Some Late Quaternary Faunal Remains
From the Avdat / Aqev Area
E. Tchernov in PreHistory and PaleoEnvirinments
in the Central Negev
[Pages 57 - 68]
Library of Congress # GN 855 I75 P7

*15 Vertebrate Remains From Wadi Dhobai
D. Bate (1938) Volume 18 [Pages 292 - 296]
The Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society
Library of Congress # DS 101 P37

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