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

Major Results of the 2007 Season

After seven seasons of excavations, the site of Ba‘ja still surprises us with substantial new insights that trigger new questions and hypotheses. Before reconsiderations are presented, we summarize the main results of 2007:

1) Increasing evidence of extreme high energy events that destroyed the settlement’s architecture: In addition to the (fluvial?) destruction of eastern Area C by a slope subsidence (Gebel and Bienert et al. 1997), there is evidence of (a) massive wall destruction – and deconstruction of walls – in basal Area B-South (B64) and in Area C (C20), followed by (b) thick flows of rubble/ gravel (RF, up to 1.5 m in height) with embedded waterlaid fine gravel deposits (FGL) that rest against tall standing walls or were found under a later architectural phase in C-10/10.

Most likely the wall rubble layers result from at least one earthquake (and subsequent instabilities of houses) in the earlier settlement.Another earthquake could be attested by the twisted walls in upper B84-85 (Fig. 7). It is necessary to consider the possibility that the RF/FGL flows result from flash floods reaching the central upper parts of the settlement from the gorge (Siq al-Ba‘ja), and that the floor of the siq was much higher than today (Fig. 1).


2) Lower storeys near bedrock at Ba‘ja must not be true ground floors or basements. Often they are crawl or pit-like spaces established by substructure-type walls that helped to level the sloping bedrock and supported the first floor. The transformation of first floors into basements, described elsewhere (Gebel 2006), is a feature of a later architectural development of a building. Unplastered cobble-faced walls characterize near-bedrock ground floors and are rarely found in the upper architectural stratigraphy.


3) Find-rich intra-mural middens can appear in and below “central rooms”, witnessing here a superb sequence of interacting primary, secondary and tertiary deposits/contexts. They provide the best chance to trace the storey use in a house, and they contain ceiling material and roof use evidence. They also may represent the evidence of a spatial reorganization of a building subsequent to a destructive impact: Secondary contexts in the fills may reflect indirectly catastrophic events or severe impacts in neighbouring parts of the settlement.


4) The question of water access in Ba‘ja needs to be reconsidered, and the ideas of Gebel 2004b have to be followed further. It is quite likely that the siq of Ba‘ja was much less incised, allowing the catchment of water by simple installations or that natural basins existed storing water, as discussions with hydrologists visiting the site (H. Fahlbusch, Lübeck and others) have suggested.


5) Initial pedological investigations by Bernhard Lucke, Cottbus Technical University, revealed – among other results – that the site rests on a well-developed palaeosol. This as well as the less-developed current sandy soils in the vicinity were suitable for mortar and plaster production. A simple test proved that the soils harden without further additives, pointing to a high clay content (estimated to ~25%, texture classified as strongly sandy loam (Ls4) according to the German soil mapping guidelines). (Lucke and Bäumler 2007).







   Related Downloads
H.G.K. Gebel and M. Kinzel, Ba‘ja 2007: Crawl Spaces, Rich Room Dumps, and High Energy Events. Results of the 7th Season of Excavations. Neo-Lithics 1/07: 24-33.  
C. Purschwitz and M. Kinzel, Ba‘ja 2007. Two Room and Ground Floor Fills: Reconstructed House-life Scenarios. Neo-Lithics 2/07: 22-35.  


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