The 1997 Season at Ba'ja, Southern Jordan

Hans Georg K. Gebel, Free University of Berlin
Hans-Dieter Bienert, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology, Dept. Amman


The 1997 Season at Ba'ja, Southern Jordan

Prestige Goods

Except for the attested sandstone ring production, ornaments were quite rare in 1997. This is explained by the fact that we mainly were digging room fills built up by fallen roofs and walls and had only limited contact to the in situ layers and their inventories. So far we have the sewn-on mother-of-pearl objects, tiny rings made of the same material, beads made from Red Sea mollusks, a very few "greenstone" objects, and (other) stone beads.

The most outstanding prestige good is attested by all manufacturing stages for sandstone rings, making it clear that Ba'ja was a production center on a household level or even industrial scale (cf Gebel and Starck 1985). In Ba'ja for the first time all the elements of the sandstone ring (bangles?) production were found on a site. which allows us to reconstruct the complete chaîne opératoire: After selection of the locally abundant tabular material, it was flaked bifacially into a disk shape, varying in diameter from 5 to 16 cm (average: 8-9 cm). Then an interior disk was removed form this raw form. Work traces indicate a concentric carving and possibly low-pressure chiseling process from both sides until a raw ring could be removed. While the interior discs may have been transformed into another artifact type (as by-products, perforated and surface-smoothed stone discs of 4-5 cm in diameter were found), the raw torus for the intended sandstone ring underwent several stages of grinding until a final grinding brought it into the known shapes. Bicolor decoration is common and results from the later removal of a blackish stain by grinding it from interior or obverse surfaces.


Fig. 6: Examples of flaked sandstone disks, used as blanks for carving and chtseltng out the the sandstone nngs (bangles?) (PIGPA collections 1984, H.G.K. Gebel)


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