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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 (Pages 160-161)

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A rapid transformation in culture took place in the Levant at the end of Neolithic 1. From this emerged a new configuration, Neolithic 2, with a distinctive pattern of settlement, buildings and range of artifacts. During Neolithic 2 an econoy based on farming spread throughout the Levant. The inhabitants of many Neolithic 2 settlements now derived their subsistence from crops and herded animals but also still depended partly upon foods obtained from the wild. These economic developments were accompanied by a great increase in the number of settlements which were inhabited. This and other evidence suggests that the population grew substantially during this stage, as we shall see. Not only were there more settlements but they were also bigger than before. They included some of the largest settlements ever established during the whole Neolithic of the Levant. There were changes in the distribution of sites within the zones which had been inhabited in Neolithic 1 and an expansion of settlement into the steppe to the south and east. Neolithic 2 settlements consisted of a cluster of buildings set close together thus continuing the Neolithic 1 and Mesolithic tradition but the shape of these structures was different. Most were now rectilinear and often had several rooms.

Major changes also took place in the kinds of artifacts which were used by the Neolithic 2 population and the way they were made. The chipped stone industry was based upon the production of blades which were retouched into blade tools. Among other changes in the kinds of chipped stone tools was a great increase in the number and variety of arrowheads and sickle blades on many sites. Neolithic 2 also saw a growth of crafts and greater elaboration of artifacts. The most common examples of this were stone bowls often of some beauty and objects of adornment such as stone beads and pendants.

The first section of Chapter 4 will consist of a detailed examination of sites inhabited during Neolithic 2 and their material remains in order to present the evidence for the changes in the way of life of the people of the Levant outlined above. In the second section I shall review the main cultural characteristics of Neolithic 2 to assess their implications and to see how they differed from Neolithic 1. I shall then discuss the distribution of Neolithic 2 sites to see how the settlement pattern was modified. The fourth section will be devoted to a consideration of the evidence for the econony of Neolithic 2 to find out in detail how it changed during this stage. In the last section I will bring some of these conclusions together to see hov they affected each other. I shall then consider the evidence for changes in social organization and for contact between the people of the Levant and neighbouring regions through a growth in exchange of exotic raw materials.

Several Neolithic 1 settlements in the Levant continued to be occupied well into the next stage and an analysis of their occupation sequences shows that Neolithic 2 developed directly from Neolithic 1. The two sites in Syria with a continuous sequence are Mureybat and Tell Aswad. There are two more in Palestine, Nahal Oren and El Khiam. Jericho was abandoned during this crucial period and not reoccupied until Neolithic 2 was already established elsewhere in the region. The transition to Neolithic 2 can also be seen at Beidha to the east of the Rift Valley towards the southern limit of settlement in this stage. The regional variations in culture which can be discerned in Mesolithic 2 and Neolithic 1 become much more marked in this stage. For this reason I shall take each of these regions in turn, examining the key sites first and then all the others for which we have some information. The development of Neolithic 2 can be seen most clearly in the northern Levant so I shall begin there (Middle Euphrates Mureybat: Page 161) ...

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