Ba‘ja 2007: Crawl Spaces, Rich Room Dumps, and High Energy Events.
Results of the 7th Season of Excavations

Hans Georg K. Gebel, Free University of Berlin
Moritz Kinzel, Technical University of Berlin


Ba‘ja 2007: Crawl Spaces, Rich Room Dumps, and High Energy Events. Results of the 7th Season of Excavations
Fallen Ceilings in Room Dumps, Crawl Spaces in Ground Floors

Concerning Eroded Architecture and Other Doubts

Area A, Test Unit 7 (Fig. 10)

The excavation in Test Unit 7 (TU7) was aimed to understand the occupations and function of Area A, the main access area to the site from the gorge leading up to the site (Fig. 1). In 2005, the corner of a building/structure occurred in the southern part of the trench, as well as a contracted burial in the ashy cultural slope rubble, most likely belonging to the Final LPPNB (Gebel, Hermansen and Kinzel 2006: 18-19).

In 2007, TU7 was extended further to the west by another 2 x 6 m. This extension revealed the same upper slope stratigraphy as found in 2005, with again no structures but charcoal- and ash-rich layers mixed with cultural debris and many fractured animal bones below the upper slope rubble. In order to clarify further the structural remains in the southern part of TU7, a 3 x 4 m sounding, later reduced again to 1.5 x 4 m, was taken down to virgin soil and bedrock near the southern section; no further architecture appeared here.

Walls 7 and 8 of 2005 were exposed down to their foundations, which may also be single-course cobble lining along the wall base (Loci 29 and 30, including stone packing). All structural remains in TU7 used mostly cobble-shaped limestone and sandstone pieces chosen from the wadi. This is very reminiscent of the picture presented by the near-bedrock walls in Area B-North: Also here the newly found pattern of cobble-faced rough walls forming the bottom of the architectural occupations is attested.

The situation exposed by TU7 suggests that central Area A may have had structures that, while they may have been eroded in the middle parts of Area A, are only preserved at its vertical rock-lined sides. Here they later experienced the deposition of the aforementioned ashy cultural slope debris deposits (blackish-greyish-brownish patches containing charcoal, bones, flint and sandstone ring artefacts). These patchy layers are roughly horizontally bedded, and they most likely represent slightly redeposited open-air dumps mixed with some gravel and eroded wall materials, using the still terraced nature of (central) Area A, a characteristic of the area observed earlier.

Below the wall foundations/ stone linings, Loci 29 and 30 (sandy loamy layers with charcoal. flints, bones, other artefacts, and fist-sized stones) occurred over the sandy loamy virgin soil resting over the unweathered and sharp-edged bedrock. It can be concluded that the walls and the foundations were built here on structural debris layers since they did not touch virgin soil and bedrock.



Fig. 10:

Areas A-C (Fig. 1)

A long-standing argument for Ba‘ja was the axiom of a long duration for the use of the site, as it was concluded on from a deep architectural stratigraphy and the intensive use of horizontal and vertical space. Evidence after seven seasons of excavations now nourishes doubts. More and more bedrock or virgin soil was reached after exposing more short architectural sequences, and Area A might not have been densely occupied. Area B-North only shows one domestic phase, consisting of ground floors/ basements and one upper floor. Area B-South may soon touch bedrock after a sequence of a maximum of two phases, as can also be expected for Area C. It will be the aim of future seasons to concentrate on duration studies of all kinds in order to evaluate how long Ba‘ja was likely to have been occupied. However, the understanding that all space, including exposed bedrock and extreme slope settings, was used in Ba‘ja is repeatedly confirmed.




Fig. 1:

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