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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Abu Gosh (Page 234-237)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

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ProofRead and Updated September 19th 2019

The Neolithic site of Abu Gosh lies in the Judean hills 13 kilometres west of Jerusalem beside the road to Tel Aviv. It was first sounded in 1928 and again in 1950. A fresh campaign of excavations was undertaken in 1967 which lasted until 1971. The surface layer yielded Late Neolithic material as well as other finds (See Page 39 in *1). Below that were two levels of a Neolithic 2 settlement -- the whole deposit being from 1 to 1.7 metres deep. The settlement was composed of several houses which had a single room sometimes with other additional features. The walls were built of stone and some of the floors were plastered. Beneath the floors of these houses and in spaces between them were found the remains of collective burials from which the skulls had been removed and also skulls buried on their own (See Page 222 in *2).

The most abundant chipped stone tools were sickle blades with nibbled retouch. Arrowheads were the second most common class; these were usually tanged and winged although a number of tanged and notched examples were also found. Several flaked and polished axes were recovered in the recent excavations as well as small picks -- chisels -- tranchet axe. One of the most remarkable finds of the earlier explorations of the site were numerous large flaked and polished trapezoidal -- oval -- almond-shaped axes which have not been found in a definite Neolithic 2 context on any Palestinian site excavated since; although trapezoidal flaked and polished axes have now been discovered at Beidha. The recent excavations have demonstrated that these came from the surface level at the site (See Page 227 in *3) and so belong to the last phase of the Neolithic 2 occucpation or postdate it. There are good parallels for them; the oval and almond-shaped ones in particular in the upper levels at Beisamun and on other later sites in the upper Jordan valley such as Tannur -- Qat -- Hagosherim.

The other finds at Abu Gosh are typical of Neolithic 2 sites elsewhere and consist of polished stone bowls -- ground stone tools -- bone borers -- needles -- spatulae and a number of clay animal figurines.

A number of Neolithic surface stations were found long ago in the environs of Jerusalem and Bethlehem by priests who engaged in prehistoric exploration. The best known site is Tahuneh which was found by Buzy. It lies on level ground beside the Wadi Tahuneh below Artas about 3 kilometres south of Bethlehem. This is much the largest of several surface stations which were found along the wadi. Very many flint tools were collected at Tahuneh and these were thought to be so typical of the earlier Neolithic in Palestine that the name Tahunian [Fine grained flint -- grey in color -- fairly translucent with a white patina] was given to the industry. Unfortunately the site had been used over a long period for the flints included Mesolithic 2 lunates and Late Neolithic denticulated segmented sickle blades and this has caused great terminological confusion ever since. Most of the diagnostic artifacts found at Tahuneh were Neolithic 2 types and as these were so numerous the site was probably a substantial settlement although no structures are known to exist there. The Neolithic 2 flint tools included tranchet axes -- sickle blades -- notched and winged tanged arrowheads and many ground stone pestles -- mortars -- rubbers and querns.

A number of other Neolithic 2 surface sites have been found in the same area among them Tantur and Beit Tamir near Bethlehem -- Mar Elias on the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem -- Tell Ful 5 kilometres north of Jerusalem on the road to Ramallah -- Tell Nasbeh a little beyond Tell Ful and a station on the road from Nablus to Rafidiyeh. The most common finds on these sites were flaked tranchet axes while picks and sickle blades -- scrapers -- borers were also found but little else which was diagnostic. A much richer site was Etam which is situated west of Artas. Abundant flints of several periods were found here scattered over a wide area on what was apparently a factory site. The finds included flaked tranchet and flaked and polished trapezoidal axes of Neolithic 2 type.

Neolithic 2 surface stations have also been found in the dunes along the present Palestinian coast. Several were discovered long ago by Neuville south of Jaffa but these are now either lost or have disappeared beneath new buildings. Others have since been discovered by Burian and Friedmann (See Page 111 in *4) who have surveyed much of the coast between Hadera and Ashdod. Two of their sites -- 26 and 26A -- are just north of Nahal Alexander and six others -- 62/0 -- 62/1 -- 64 -- 64A -- 70 -- 71 are to be found between the mouths of the Nahal Sorek and Nahal Lachish. These two groups of sites are clustered together quite markedly which indicates that the areas in which they are found were chosen repeatedly for occupation.

The surface collections from these sites consisted of modest quantities of flint tools for the most part among which were tanged arrowheads -- sickle blades -- flaked axes and other common Neolithic 2 types. Site 26 had a richer collection than the others which included 265 tanged arrowheads some of which were also notched. There are close parallels for the tools in these assemblages on other Palestinian sites so all may be included in the same regional group.

It has been known for many years that Neolithic 2 Sites were to be found in the extreme south of Palestine for Petrie and his collaborators had found Neolithic 2 flints on some of the sites they excavated around Tell Farah (South) on the Wadi Ghazzeh -- now Nahal Besor. The most diagnostic pieces were several targed and notched or winged arrowheads from Site D2 (See Plate XXVII on Page 82 in *5). Several tanged and winged arrowheads retouched with squamous pressure-flaking of Neolithic 2 type (See Plate XVII on Page 59, XX, 13 in ibid) and other flints that could be associated with these diagnostic pieces were also found there. These flints -- while suggestive -- indicate only that Neolithic 2 groups had passed this way and possibly camped along the wadi ...

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