Prehistoric Village Found in the Jordan Valley Links Old and New Stone Age

Related Articles

Related Articles

Newly-excavated village in the Jordan Valley sheds light on the historical shift from foraging to agriculture, say Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologists.

Archaeologists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem revealed in Israel a prehistoric village, dated around 12,000 years ago, in excavations in the fertile Jordan Valley.

The site, named NEG II, is located in Nahal (wadi) Ein-Gev, at the middle of the perennial stream that flows west to the Sea of Galilee.

 

A series of excavations on site revealed an abundance of findings, including human burial remains, flint tools, art manifestations, faunal assemblage, ground stone and bone tools. The excavated area revealed an extensive habitation with deep cultural deposits (2.5 to 3 meters deep) and the site is estimated as covering roughly 1200 m2.

Surprisingly, the village differs markedly from others of its period in Israel. The findings encapsulate cultural characteristics typical of both the Old Stone Age — known as the Paleolithic period, and the New Stone Age — known as the Neolithic period.

“Although attributes of the lithic tool kit found at NEG II places the site chronologically in the Paleolithic period, other characteristics – such as its artistic tradition, size, thickness of archaeological deposits and investment in architecture – are more typical of early agricultural communities in the Neolithic period,” said Dr. Leore Grosman, from the Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who led the excavations.

“Characterizing this important period of potential overlap in the Jordan Valley is crucial for the understanding of the socioeconomic processes that marked the shift from Paleolithic mobile societies of hunter-gatherers to Neolithic agricultural communities,” added Dr. Grosman.

The Paleolithic period is the earliest and the longest period in the history of mankind. The end of this period is marked by the transition to settled villages and domestication of plants and animals as part of the agricultural life-ways in the Neolithic period.

In a research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the archeologists described the village as one of the latest settlements in the Levant region of the Late Natufian – the last culture of the Paleolithic period.

The Natufian culture (about 15,000-11,500 years B.P.) is known from sites all over the Levant – from the Negev and the Sinai in the south to Syria and Lebanon in the north.

NEG II was occupied in the midst of the cold and dry global climatic event known as the Younger Dryas (12,900–11,600 years B.P.), where temperature declined sharply over most of the northern hemisphere. Affected by climatic changes, Late Natufian groups in the Mediterranean zone became increasingly mobile and potentially smaller in size.

However, excavations at NEG II show that groups in the Jordan Valley became more sedentary and potentially larger in size.

“The buildings represent at least four occupational stages and the various aspects of the faunal assemblage provide good indications for site permanence. In addition, the thick archaeological deposits, the uniformity of the tool types and the flint knapping technology indicate intensive occupation of the site by the same cultural entity,” said Dr. Grosman.

Researchers say that this shift in settlement pattern could be related to greater climatic stability due to a lesser effect of the Younger Dryas in the region, higher cereal biomass productivity and better conditions for small-scale cultivation.

These factors had provided the ingredients necessary to taking the final steps toward agriculture in the southern Levant, researchers say.

“It is not surprising that at the very end of the Natufian culture, at a suite of sites in the Jordan Valley, that we find a cultural entity that bridges the crossroads between Late Paleolithic foragers and Neolithic farmers,” said Dr. Grosman.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Study Sheds New Light on the Behaviour of the Giant Carnivorous Dinosaur Spinosaurus

New research from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Maryland, has reignited the debate around the behaviour of the giant dinosaur Spinosaurus.

New Skull of Tube-Crested Dinosaur Reveals Evolution of Bizarre Crest

The first new skull of a rare species of the dinosaur Parasaurolophus (recognized by the large hollow tube that grows on its head) discovered in 97 years.

Women Influenced Coevolution of Dogs and Humans

In a cross-cultural analysis, Washington State University researchers found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.

Dinosaur Embryo Helps Crack Baby Tyrannosaur Mystery

They are among the largest predators ever to walk the Earth, but experts have discovered that some baby tyrannosaurs were only the size of a Border Collie dog when they took their first steps.

First People to Enter the Americas Likely Did so With Their Dogs

The first people to settle in the Americas likely brought their own canine companions with them, according to new research which sheds more light on the origin of dogs.

Climate Change in Antiquity: Mass Emigration Due to Water Scarcity

The absence of monsoon rains at the source of the Nile was the cause of migrations and the demise of entire settlements in the late Roman province of Egypt.

Archaeologists Discover Bas-Relief of Golden Eagle at Aztec Templo Mayor

A team of archaeologists from the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) have announced the discovery of a bas-relief depicting an American golden eagle (aquila chrysaetos canadensis).

Lost Alaskan Fort of the Tlingit Discovered

Researchers from Cornell University and the National Park Service have discovered the remnants of a wooden fort in Alaska – the Tlingit people’s last physical bulwark against Russian colonisation forces in 1804.

Popular stories

Exploring the Stonehenge Landscape

The Stonehenge Landscape contains over 400 ancient sites, that includes burial mounds known as barrows, Woodhenge, the Durrington Walls, the Stonehenge Cursus, the Avenue, and surrounds the monument of Stonehenge which is managed by English Heritage.

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

The Roman Conquest of Wales

The conquest of Wales began in either AD 47 or 48, following the landing of Roman forces in Britannia sent by Emperor Claudius in AD 43.

Vallum Antonini – The Antonine Wall

The Antonine Wall (Vallum Antonini) was a defensive wall built by the Romans in present-day Scotland, that ran for 39 miles between the Firth of Forth, and the Firth of Clyde (west of Edinburgh along the central belt).