Short Report on the 1999 Season

by Hans Georg K. Gebel and Bo Dahl Hermansen


Short Report on the 1999 Season

Special Results of Architecture

1) On the summit of the site, excavation in the newly opened Area D (220 m2) exposed the basement of a building of more than 80 m2 staircases in one of the northern rooms led to a second floor or onto the roof. A large room or courtyard of some 6 x 2.5-4.5m was situated in the lower part of the building that seems to have rested on two levels. Rooms surrounded this large room/courtyard on three sides. One of them contained the in situ remains of a workshop and/or storeroom of a sandstone ring manufacturer (mainly the raw disks). West of this building and partly founded on bedrock, parts of a neighbouring building were exposed. The outer walls of the building run downslope and are shared by the neighbour's property. Like Area C (Gebel et al. 1997), we did not find evidence for open spaces or lanes, and only domestic architecture with no evidence of special buildings was encountered. All communication, traffic and domestic and manufacturing activities must have taken place via the (terraced) roofs. A huge sandstone block (25-30 tons) at the southern edge of Area D fell on and sank into the ruin.

2) The architecture of Area D is more spacious than the groundplans in Area C (Gebel et al. 1997), and it shows different principles of spatial order. The major walls, including the outer walls of the buildings(s), run downslope, thus providing better stability than walls that follow contour lines (cf. the terrace walls in Area C). Probably the inhabitants experienced during their occupation of the steep slopes of Ba'ja that walls running perpendicular to the contour lines remained stable longer, and that the (anyhow instable) room walls set between them allowed for more flexible groundplans. Area D has a main or original building phase with two events of groundplan changes or repairs that did not occur throughout the building. Below the main phase an earlier building appears, most likely having a different groundplan and that deliberately was cut to create a new building level.

3) Continued excavations in Square C20(-21) exposed part of a stairwell. The walls associated with this room reach a height of 4.16m. The preserved remains include an earlier Phase I and a later Phase II. One wall (Wall 13) was founded directly on the soft virgin soil. A stone layer served as a platform for the foundation of neighbouring Wall 6; the lowest area framed by the two walls was covered by a red-stained plaster-floor (Locus 45). Only the lower courses of the walls were connected by bridging-stones, and from the 9th course Wall 13 leans on Wall 6. A considerable quantity of fragments of red painted plaster have been found in the collapse material, suggesting that the exposed face of the walls was originally coated by a ca. 2-3 cm thick layer of coarse plaster-bedding with a ca. 2-5 mm thick layer of fine red stained plaster. Thus, it may be suggested that the stairwell to which the walls belong possessed red painted walls.

After an unknown interval of abandonment of this part of the building, the walls were leveled and reused as a foundation for the later Phase II. Again, only the lower parts of the wall were connected by bridging stones. Ca 1.80 m above floor level Wall 6 becomes narrower, leaving a shelf which is interpreted as support for the beams of an upper floor. A buttress (Locus 21), leaning on Wall 6, is also understood as a support for beams. Additionally, a staircase (Locus 41) occupied the space between this buttress and Wall 19. This staircase was founded at floor level and preserved three steps high. However, spaces in Wall 6 and Wall 19 indicate that additional steps must have been included in the original construction. The staircase originally connected the doorway on the ground floor with the one on the first floor. The three preserved steps of the staircase seem to be supported on a series of three parallel risers, each one stone wide and supporting only the front part of the step. The space south of the staircase contained what may be the collapsed remains of two additional steps. There is evidence (supports in the walls) that these two additional steps in the original scheme were supported by a wooden construction.

4) First results from the Wilhelm Dyckerhoff Institut fuer Baustofftechnologie (Wiesbaden) on plaster materials (floor and wall plaster) show more varied mixtures and technologies than expected. The analysis programme on plaster samples deserves intensive care, since we deal here with a high potential for insights into craft specialization and thus into social information.




Fig. 5: Neolithic Ba'ja: stairwell in Area C with walls preserved up to 4.16m. cphoto by H.G.K. Gebel




Fig. 6. Eastern wall in the stairwell of C20. Field record by B. Dahl Hermansen and J. Baumgarten, archaeological interpretation: B. Dahl Hemansen

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