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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Nahal Oren (Pages 218-221)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

The upper layer at Nahal Oren, layer I, was also occupied in Neolithic 2. This layer covered only the centre and the upper parts of the site and much was disturbed. Nothing was found to indicate that the site had been abandoned betwen layer I and II so it is thought that the site continued to be occupied without a break. Layer I varied from 0.5 to 1.5 metres in depth which may indicate that the site was occupied for a short period or that occupation was intermittent as I have suggested for the earlier layers.

Two stone-walled structures were excavated on the site but it is likely that others existed which have since been destroyed. One was a large building paved with flat stones. This contained a small inner chamber defined by another stone wall. The structure found in the recent excavations had been built at the top of the site on a specifically leveled surface. This building which is thought to have been a house was approximately rectangular in shape and had a clay floor. At a later stage this building was reused as a burial place. A rough curved stone wall was erected inside which marked off part of the room. Within the chamber formed by the wall four bodies, three adults and a child, were buried in a crouched position and covered with stones. The skulls of the child and one of the adults were missing although the mandibles had been left in place. The skeletons were preserved almost intact so that they could not have been much disturbed when the skulls were removed. The two which retained their skulls were each buried with a shell bead and polished pebble. In adition one had a bifacially retouched flint knife in a bone handle and the other a bone spatula. Fragments of a fifth burial were found in the same building on the other side of the curved wall but this had been badly damaged by subsequent disturbance. It had a dentalium bracelet around one wrist.

The flint tools were made of the same varied raw material obtained in the vicinity as in the earlier layers. A very little obsidian was used as in layers III and II but the sources from which it was obtained are not known. Many of the larger tools at Nahal Oren were made on blades struck from double-ended cores but there was a significant proportion of small artifacts made on little blades and flakes derived from prismatic cores. This is partly because much of the available flint was in the form of small nodules but it probably also represents some continuity in tradition from layer II.

The two main classes of flint artifacts were tanged arrowheads and sickle blades. Some of the arrowheads had pairs of notches along the blade while others were winged or had clearly defined shoulders. The notched arrowheads had relatively little retouch but some of the others were extensively retouched with pressure-flaking. This range of types closely resembles the arrowheads from PPNB Jericho.

The sickle blades were usually quite long with a little nibbled or finely denticulated retouch. These are similar to the Neolithic 2 sickle blades at Jericho and on West Syrian sites. There were a few angle and dihedral burins, abruptly retouched borers on blades and scrapers on blades and flakes but all these types were relatively scarce. As in the levels below there was much admixture of artifacts from earlier phases.

Flint, basalt and limestone axes and adzes were quite common at Nahal Oren. The flint axes were of two types, small ones flaked all over with a tranchet edge and larger flaked axes with a rounded polished cutting edge. The other stone axes were finished by flaking, pecking and polishing. Some nephrite objects were found in the earlier excavations which may have been axes.

The querns in layer I at Nahal Oren were different from the hollow querns of layers IV to II as they were stepped with an open end. They were thus like the querns at PPNB Jericho and Tell Ramad. These were accompanied by limestone and basalt plano-convex rubbers. Limestone bowls and dishes were very common at Nahal Oren.

The usual range of bone points and spatulae was used at Nahal Oren I and these tools were a little larger and more robust than those from earlier layers. One unusual find was an equid phalange with a vertical hole drilled in the top and pairs of holes on either side of the articulation; it has been suggested that this may have been the body of a doll. Many tiny beads were found in the flotation residue of the recent excavation. Some were little shell discs and others sections of dentalium. Cylindrical bone and stone beads were also made.

No C-14 determinations have been obtained for Nahal Oren I so the date of the occupation can only be established by typological comparisons with cther sites. The general character of the remains places Nahal Oren I firmly within Neolithic 2 in the Levant and therefore within the 7th mi1lennium. The characteristics of the flint industry and the typology of the arrowheads in particular are so like PPNB Jericho that it is reasonable to suppose that both sites were occupied about the same time. This would mean that Nahal 0ren I was probably inhabited in the early or middle 7th millennium BC ...

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