The Year 2001 Season of Excavation at Late PPNB Ba'ja

Hans Georg K. Gebel and Bo Dahl Hermansen
(Institut für Vorderasiatische Altertumskunde, Freie Universität Berlin; Carsten Niebuhr Institute, Copenhagen University)


The Year 2001 Season of Excavation at Late PPNB Ba'ja

Selected Comments

Generally, the excavations of the 2001 season confirm interpretations offered in previous reports. But in the case of Area C a body of puzzling new evidence was revealed. We dare to speak of architectural monumentality for this important part of the site. In 1997 the eastern part of the building in Area C already revealed an extensive cooking area covering some 4 rooms. The layout of the building and its western extensions exposed in this season let us assume its use by a large kinship group cooperating economically.
While the overall character of the occupations in Areas B, C, D, and F is domestic, the supposed gate may indicate a corporate feature in a strategic position (access to the site from the west) that was deliberately blocked.
The assumed communal space in the flat Area B remains to be tested in the future. It is most likely that the top soil layer and the underlying fine-grained layer in Area B were cleared of stones in the post-Neolithic (agricultural activities). But this fine-grained layer above the ruined tops of LPPNB walls already contained striking in situ finds of the LPPPN (e.g., one hoard of blades with a core). This contradicting evidence might be explained in view of the stratigraphical pattern described above.
Area F shows that we have in the steep slope settings of Ba'ja an immediate access to the floor levels of the basements, since major parts of the eroded building material of the upper storeys were taken downslope here. The exploitation of an extreme slope like Area F as a residential construction area illustrates that all space in Ba'ja was needed, despite that fact that architectural engineering was unable to maintain stable massive buildings on such topographies.
It appears obvious that the collective burial does not contain a special selection of individuals, such as those related to an ancestral ritual. It may rather represent the regular mortality distribution within a large family, whose members received individual grave goods. The high rate of infants may reflect a high infant mortality in Ba'ja.

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