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



Exploited animals were wild and domestic goat, domestic sheep, aurochs (Bos primigenius), an equid (Equus africanus?), wild boar, a small and a large type of gazelle, hedgehog, hyrax, hare, and a small carnivore (fox?) (Söffner 1996 and C. Becker, pers. comm.).

As for the botanical remains, Reinder Neef identified not much more than what was already known from the poor 1984 samples: Carbonized wild pistachio and fig were found in addition to juniper and pistachio wood; Triticum dicoccum is very rarely attested by two glume bases from the Gebel's 1984 investigations and an imprint of a spiklet fork from a tabun sherd of 1997 (Neef, pers. comm.).


Settlement System Questions

Different from the research situation for other LPPNB large settlements, more information is available on the possible LPPNB settlement pattern in the Greater Petra Area (through the surveys by Diana Kirkbride and H.G.K. Gebel). According to first (Gebel 1988, 1990) and more recent results (surveys around Basta), we can't expect a hierarchical settlement pattern in the sense of that central place theory calls for, at least not in the southern extension of the mega-site episode in the second half of the 7th millennium bc (Gebel 2004.). The hypothesis is that we are dealing with "anodal" systems, with fast-growing, isolated, and self-sufficient settlements being "central" in the sense of being the regional foci of land-use and for the distribution of exchanged goods. These "centers" may have developed a size and social complexity that deserve an interpretation beyond a village understanding (see contributions and discussions at the Symposium: Central Settlements in Neolithic in Neolithic Jordan, published in Neo-Lithics 2/97, especially the arguments of Rollefson and Gebel).

Ba'ja possibly came to exist after nearby Beidha was largely abandoned. Possibly two other MPPNB sites were deserted around this time. Occupation then might have concentrated in Ba'ja and possibly in the new site al-Baseet, encountered last summer in the Wadi Musa area ('Amr 2004; Fino 1997). However, this at the moment is speculation only.

The 1997 Season at Ba'ja, Southern Jordan
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