Figure 1. Ba'ja. Profile 1. Rubble layer

The Year 2010 Season of Excavation
Ba'ja 2010: Neolithic Rubble Slide Research

Bernhard Weniger, University of Cologne
Hans Georg K. Gebel, Free University of Berlin
in collaboration with Christoph Zielhofer, University of Leipzig


Ba'ja 2010: Neolithic Rubble Slide Research



Locations and Objectives of Season

In collaboration with H.G.K. Gebel (director of the Ba'ja Neolithic Project), M. Kinzel, and C. Zielhofer, Leipzig University, and in the framework of the 2010 works at Ba'ja, the Neolithic Rubble Slide Project of the Collaborative Research Centre 806 from Cologne University (directed by B. Weniger, supported by L. Clare, S. Waechter, and D. Hofmeister) investigated and sampled sections at LPPNB Ba'ja. The Neolithic Rubble Slide Project investigated also Basta, 'Ain Jamam and 'Ain Ghazal (Capital Area) that season to gain empirical data for the understanding of rubble slides and potentially related climatic and socioeconomic change during the late seventh millennium BC. 3D laser scanning was used to document rubble slide sections in Basta and 'Ain Ghazal, in addition to traditional section recording; 3D laser scanning took place for the architecture of 'Ain Jamam, too.


Significant Results and Preliminary Conclusions

A considerable number of Neolithic sites in Jordan dating to the seventh millennium BC have been found to have been either inundated or partially covered by substantial layers of rubble comprising fist-sized angular stones; these layers are often found deposited, in the shape of major aquatic flows, on the slopes of the sites. Although this phenomenon has been discussed by prehistorians since 1984, research has so far ignored their potential as palaeoclimate archives. However, research undertaken this year has clearly demonstrated that our original notion, i.e. that rubble layers were related solely to a known period of intense climate fluctuation (Rapid Climate Change after Mayewski et al . 2004) between 6600-6000 calBC, requires some revision. Rather, rubble layers can be associated with at least three phases during the seventh millennium calBC, and some occurrence might not even be directly related to climate impacts at all. In fact, rubble layers now appear to be a quite complex affair, both in terms of their polycausal and polygenetic backgrounds. For example, it has become obvious that earthquakes may have triggered rubble depositions subsequent to the destruction and deconstruction of Neolithic architecture (cf. the Ba'ja finding), or that rubble layers were often formed by a combination of natural and cultural agencies, interrupted by in situ occupations by which they can be dated (cf. the Basta finding). Especially intriguing is the high ratio of materials with a cultural origin (wall stone dressing refuse, levelling and filling stones of walls and floors, etc.) that are now obvious in rubble layers.

This project has provided insights into how future Neolithic rubble slide research should be developed in terms both of methods and topics, if it is to become a substantial source of information on human development/ climatic change interaction. This approach to rubble layer research must also serve as a starting point for further studies to focus upon similar phenomena during other periods in the Early to Middle Holocene. In this case, both on-site and off-site research in the respective sedimentary environments is essential.


Gebel H.G.K.
2009 The Intricacy of Neolithic Rubble Slides. The Ba'ja, Basta, and 'Ain Rahub Evidence. Neo-Lithics 1/09: 33-46. Berlin, ex oriente.

Mayewski P.A., Rohling E.E., Stager J.C., Karlen N.W., Maascha K.A., Meeker L.D., Meyerson E.A., Gasse F., van Kreveld S., Holgrend K., Lee-Thorph J., Rosqvist G., Racki F., Staubwasser M., Schneider R., R., Steig E.J.
2004 Holocene climate variability. Quaternary Research 62: 243–255.

Rollefson G.O.
2009 Slippery Slope: The Late Neolithic Rubble Layer in the Southern Levant. Neo-Lithics 1/09: 12-18. Berlin, ex oriente.

Weninger B.
2009 Yarmoukian Rubble Slides. Evidence for Early Holocene
Rapid Climate Change in Southern Jordan. Neo-Lithics 1/09: 3-5. Berlin, ex oriente.




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