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



I) The occupation is by its architecture and associated material culture Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (2nd half of the 7th mill. bc); occupational layers within the room fills of fallen roof/ wall materials most likely are related to the end of the same culture, re-presenting the use of the ruins after sedentary habitation came to an end or shifted from the (excavated) area.

2) The type of architecture resembles in all respects what has been found in Basta, 'Ain Jammam, Ghwair 1, and as-Sifiya, partly 'Ain Ghazal; it is a multi-roomed association of rectangular and polygonal rooms without clear open spaces. Connections between the rooms existed through passages via wall-openings and most likely the public spaces of roof tops.

3) Architectural subphases exist that altered a ground plan within the framework of the major terrace walls. Whenever topography required it, the ground plan of the smaller rooms became curvilinear or polygonal. Room sizes may vary from 1.5-15m2. Subphases can be distinguished by additions onto existing wall tops, blockings or insertions of wall openings as well as additions to the ground plan, e.g. reinforcement buttresses and walls stabilizing a terrace and the rooms behind.

4) The lower third and steepest part of the site - at least in Area C - has been eroded away in post- occupational periods. Currently the explanation is for an aquatic impact through a temporarily raised siq base level.

5) Contact zones of the cultural layers with the sterile deposits so far show that the palaeotopography on which the settlement rests was built up in its upper parts by water-laid sandy sediments (playa-like deposits) that may represent a once closed intramontane basin-like structure. At certain spots it was obvious that rooms were dug into these sterile layers.

6) Chipped lithic industry: it is striking that the site does not seem to have had specialized naviform workshops. Instead, a non-naviform bidirectional blade technology exists by cores with detachments from all around the (round) platform.

7) The ornament industry so far is not very rich. However, the site certainly was a fabrication center for sandstone rings on at least a household level: all stages of manufacturing this prestige good are attested, and we can expect that it played a major role for the wealth of the settlement (trade).

8) Subsistence elements were emmer wheat, wild pistachio and fig?, and the exploitation of juniper and pistachio as fuel; the diet of animal protein made use of the following species: 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?). Hunting played a major role in Ba'ja, aside from herding.

The 1997 Season at Ba'ja, Southern Jordan

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