Ba'ja 2008: Summary on the Chipped Lithic Study Season

Christoph Purschwitz, Free University of Berlin


Ba'ja 2008: Summary on the Chipped Lithic Study Season
Primary and secondary production



Primary Production

The classification of the primary products comprise 3549 artifacts without major differences between both collections (Table 1). Generally, debitage products such as flakes and blades are predominant and form more than 45% of the sample. Cores and primary elements, instead, have been found in low numbers and they make up 1.4% and 3.5% respectively. Cores are dominated by flake cores, among which single platform cores are the most frequent type. Among the blade cores, bidirectional and unidirectional blade cores are attested by few items. The ratio between unidirectional and bidirectional blades is approximately 2.5:1 and the flake:blade ratio is about 2:3.
Primary products which can be assigned to tool production such as burin spalls, transversal spalls and Bifacial Thinning Flakes (BTF) are attested in both collections but do not exceed 2% of the sample size.


Secondary Production

196 out 3549 artifacts (~5,5%) have been identified as tools. Although both collections have similar numbers the tool ratio of building BIII is twice as high (8 %) as of building BI (4%, cf. Table 1). In composition both collections are very similar, although minor variations can be observed. For instance in building BI there are higher numbers of projectiles, drilling/piercing tools and hammer stones while at building BIII scraping tools, notched tools, cutting tools and heavy-duty tools (celts/adzes, chisels, picks) are more frequent (Table 2).

As a general statement, projectiles, celt/adzes and piercing/ drilling tools occur frequently at Ba'ja, while burins and particularly sickles are very rare (Table 2; cf. also Gebel 1988: 86-87; Gebel, Bienert et al 1997: 242).

Among the projectiles small leaf shaped arrowheads of 'Amuq'-types are dominating, followed arrowheads of 'Byblos' types, while 'Jericho'-points are rare (Fig. 1). Small, bifacially retouched 'Late Neolithic' arrowheads are absent with one possible exception. Although thevaverage size of the projectiles within the sample is relatively low (46.7 mm), it matches well the average length of other southern Levantine LPPNB sites such as 'Ain Jammam (45.3mm, Rollefson 2005) or 'Ain Abu Nukhayla (46.9 mm, Henry et al. 2003).

Bifacially flaked heavy-duty-tools are extraordinary numerous and form with over 16 % one of the most frequent tools classes of the Ba'ja sample. However, 28 out of 32 tools are celt/adzes (Fig. 2), each one of them is a pick or a chisel and two are identified as roughouts of bifacial tools. Celts/adzes with transversal flaked working edge outnumbers those with bifacial flakes working edge. Celts/adzes with a polished working edge or surface, as are frequently attested at nearby Beidha (Mortensen 1970), are completely absent at Ba'ja and may indicate that both villages did not existed contemporaneously. The main difference between both Ba'ja celt/adzes types appear to be their degree of standardization: Celts/adzes with transversal flaked working edge appear more standardized in length and weight than those with bifacially flaked working edge. At the moment it is not clear whether this difference in standardization reflects different production stages or difference in function, although the presence of small splinterings on both types- which may indicate their use - rather points to the latter.

The tool blank analysis indicates that most formal blade tools were modified on bidirectional blade blanks, although unidirectional blades dominate the debitage classes. The ratio between unidirectional and bidirectional blades changes from 2.5:1 for potential blanks in favor of 2:3 for tools. Bidirectional blanks are generally larger in size than their unidirectional counterparts, which is likewise reflected in the tool metrics.










Figure 2

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