PPND - the Platform for Neolithic Radiocarbon Dates


31°15'18.79'' N    35°33'58.45'' E   Download OxCal File

ZAD 2 is one of the most reliably dated early Neolithic sites of the southern Levant. There are nine dates that correlate quite well with the stratigraphy and have narrow +/- deviations. The dates document two occupational layers. The young date Wk 9444: 9323+/- 59 (8700-8470 BC) is from Phase 1 of Structure 2, and can be clearly separated from the Structure’s Phase 2 dates.

Admittedly it overlaps slightly with the three dates, OZE 605-607, for Structure 3 of Phase 2.[1]

Because of the late date, WK 9444, it is possible to discern an early phase at the site between 9140 BC and 8750 BC[2] and a later phase between 8700 BC and 8470 BC. ZAD 2 was thus occupied much later than the nearby settlement of Dhra’ (cf. Sayej 2004:61). These dates are quite consistent with the stratigraphy, with Structure 3 overlying Structure 2.

John Meadows presented an interpretation of the radiocarbon dates using several statistical models (Edwards et al. 2004: 28-33). The assumptions necessary for the models must, however, be general and cannot take into account different conditions for every date. In order to consider the different possibilities implied by the radiocarbon dates, they should be compared to other data from the site, such as the lithic typology and architectural development.

Edwards et al. postulate one short occupational phase, although they admit that there were several building floors and that the building structures partly overlap (Edwards et al. 2004:26). Such a short-lived settlement would have to then be dated to 8850-8650 BC, the time range during which all the dates overlap. However, it seems more probable that the settlement was occupied during two if not three separate phases.


Structure 1

The stratigraphy of Structure 1 cannot be correlated with the layers of Structures 2 and 3. Nevertheless, in his analysis of the flint artefacts Sayej divided it into 2 phases, the upper one comprising loci 1-9 and the lower one loci 10-26. Both radiocarbon dates come from the lower occupation phase and sum to a temporal horizon between 9160 BC and 8830 BC.[3]

This is in good accordance with the radiocarbon dates of Structure 2, of which the lower layers (loci 3.2.-6.1.) were radiocarbon dated.


Structure 2  

The radiocarbon dates of Structure 2 are in good stratigraphic agreement. The oldest date is contemporary with the low layers of Structure 1 and dates the lowest floor above natural soil to 9160-8830 BC. The second date, which comes from the fill above floor locus 4.1., that belongs to Phase 2 is probably dislocated, as it covers the same time span as the older date. Perhaps its material originated from the hearth that had been “initially encountered in Phase 1, [but then] proved to be founded in the underlying floor of Phase 3 (loc.5.1.)” (Edwards et al. 2004:25). Or it might be evidence for a rapid sequence of occupational layers. However, the youngest date, from the next layer above, supports the first interpretation.

The youngest date of Structure 2 comes from Phase 2, loc. 3.2. Again there are two possible interpretations: either this date documents the latest occupational phase of Structure 2 after 8650 BC, or it corresponds to the occupation of Structure 3, with whose radiocarbon dates it overlaps in the range between 8700-8650 BC. According to the stratigraphy, the latter explanation seems more probable.


Structure 3

The oldest date, 9120-8760 BC, significantly overlaps with the old dates for Structures 1 and 2. The next two dates, OZE 608 and OZE 607, both come from locus 7.2 and their sum ranges between 8810 BC and 8630 BC, but can be shortened on the basis of the date OZE 608 of a later layer to 8810-8650 BC, assuming OZE 608 was not dislocated from an older layer. The latest date covers a very large span but is probably contemporary with the young date of Structure 2 between 8700-8650 BC.

The sequence of these dates can be interpreted in at least two ways: either Structure 3 was built only shortly after Structure 2, overlying it slightly; or Structure 3 is of a later date, with the oldest date relating to activities associated with the adjacent older Structure 2. In the latter case the first building activities of Structure 3 would then only date to around 8810-8650 BC.

In conclusion, it cannot be ruled out that the site was in fact occupied only during a very short time range between 8850-8680 BC (1-σ range). However, it may also be possible that Structures 1 and 2 were built earlier (9120-8850 BC) and Structure 3 dates to a later occupational phase. Structure 2 was then either continuously occupied or contemporary with Structure 3, or reoccupied at the level of floor loc. 4.1.

But it must not be forgotten that the latest occupation phase, Phase 1, was not dated in any of the trenches.



The differentiation of several occupational phases is supported by the flint industry and typology of the site (Sajey 2004:87-113-163; Tab. 7.15). In Structure 1 and 2 the core trimming elements (CTE) for the preparation of the cores comprise only about 2-3% (increasing slightly) of the total. However, in Structure 3 they are 5-6% of the flint artefacts (Tab.1).

It is also interesting that projectile points and the so-called “Beit Ta’amir sickles” were found only in Phase 1 – that is, in the uppermost layers (Fig.3). [4] The number of retouched blades and bladelets increases, whereas the number of scrapers decreases. The Hagdud truncations slightly decrease in Structure 1 and 2, and are completely absent from Phase 1 of Structure 3.

The tool assemblage of Structure 3 seems to be different from that of Structures 1 and 2. In Structure 3 a projectile point was found in Phase 2, whereas the earlier structures had none. The percentage of scrapers and retouched bladelets in Structure 3 remains constant from Phase 2 to Phase 1, whereas it decreases in Structure 1 and increases in Structure 2. The close agreement of the percentages of tools from Structure 3, Phase 2 and Structure 4, Phase 1 is striking. It would support a later date for the foundation of Structure 3 (OZE 605-607) than for Structures 1 and 2.






CTE (core trimming elements)



74 % (N=893)

23% (N=279)

2% (N=24)


80 % (N=218)

18 %(N=50)

2% (N=5)



75% (N=3843)

21% (N=1075)

3% (N=134)


71% (N=931)

26% (N=335)

2 % (N=30)



82% (N=310)

12% (N=46)

5% (N=19)


70% (N=50)

23% (N=16)

6% (N=4)

Tab. 1Percentages of tools and techniques, arranged as to structure, phase and type (calculated on the basis of Sayej 2004:87).

On the basis of the typological comparison and the radiocarbon dates, it is probable, that ZAD 2 was occupied not only during the PPNA but also later, contemporary with the so-called transitional phase defined by Abbès and Stordeur (2002), or with the early PPNB. The late date Wk 9444: 9323+/- 59 (8700-8470 BC), and the fact that there are no radiocarbon dates for the latest Phase 1, support this suggestion.

[1] It is not very probable that this young date belongs to the older phase, as the probability is only 6.9 % for the time span 8700-8670 BC. The highest probability ranges between 8650 BC and 8530 BC (48.9%) and between 8520 BC and 8470 BC (12.5%).

[2] The sum of the dates has two pics of probability with each having an equal distribution: 9140 BC (32.7%) 8970 BC; 8940BC (35.5%) 8750BC.

[3] The sum of the dates for Phase 1: 9160 BC (10.6%) 9100 BC; 9090 BC (57.6%) 8830 BC. If the stratigraphy is also considered in the calculations, the results change by only about 10 years.

[4] In the lower layers retouched flint tools are generally very rare.

14C Dates

 Code  BP Dev. Δ13C Location material References
OZE-605 9490 50 Structure 3, Sq V22, Loc. 3.1. Calibrated range von 3 daten 2 Sigma: 9150-8550 BC (1:6) Edwards et al. 2002
OZE-606 9440 50 Structure 3, Sq V22, Loc. 7.2. Edwards et al. 2002
OZE-607 9470 50 Structure 3, Sq V 22, Loc 7.2. Edwards et al. 2002
Wk 9444 9323 59 upppermost level structure 2, locus 3.2., Square L23, "Phase 2" 1) Edwards et al. 2004 2) Sayej 2004:61
Wk 9445 9552 59 Structure 1, Phase2, Locus 22.3. (2:60) 1) Edwards et al. 2004 2) Sayej 2004
Wk 9447 9603 59 Square K22, Locus 6.1. lowest level Edwards et al. 2004
Wk 9568 9623 91 Locus 3.3.; Square K22, "Phase 2" 1) Edwards et al. 2004 2) Sayej 2004:61
Wk 9570 9528 61 Structure 3, Locus 5.4=7.4. Square U22 Edwards et al. 2004
WK 9633 9635 59 Structure 1, Phase 2: E 28, 20.1 Sayej 2004



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Fig 1 Distribution of the calibrated radiocarbon dates (68.2%) of ZAD, arranged as to structures and stratigraphy of each structure (low lewels = left; upper levels=right).

Fig. 2 Stratigraphic context of the radiocarbon dates of ZAD 2. Structure 1 (=E28); Structure 2 (J22-L22); Structure 3 (=V22-U22) (Edwards et al. 2004:Fig.4; 6-7).

Fig. 3 Percentages on a logarithmic scale of some retouched flint tools, arranged as to phase and structure (according to the data of Sayej 2004:Tab.7.15) Note: Phase 1 = upper layers, Phase 2 = lower layers.

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