The purpose of this introductory paper is to provide a background that can be used for a broader interpretation of the results of the articles in the main body of this book. The richness of the information concerning symbolic behavior at 'Ain Ghazal is relatively enormous for this time period, and the understanding of the various meanings entailed in the symbolic expressions can only be enhanced by viewing them in the physical, economic, and social contexts of the time.
The beginning of the Neolithic period is arbitrarily defined by the appearance of agriculture, which appeared in the Levant at ca. 8,300 bc. 'Ain Ghazal was not founded until almost a thousand years later, and because of the local ecological combinations and the persistent presence of water (the permanent stream of the Zarqa River and the copious spring of 'Ain Ghazal itself), it continued to exist as a permanent settlement until around 5,000 bc or perhaps even later (cf. Rollefson et al. 1992: Table 1). This long duration of constant occupation - more than 2,000 years - is one of the most important aspects of 'Ain Ghazalís archaeology, for it permits us to examine how the residents of 'Ain Ghazal adapted themselves to the changing environment around them, changes that were strongly driven by the unwitting actions of the people of 'Ain Ghazal themselves.
This long period of time witnessed four major developments in how the inhabitants of 'Ain Ghazal lived their daily lives, acquired food and other necessary resources, built their houses and other structures, organized themselves in the town, and interacted on a spiritual level with their fellow human beings and physical environment. The two millennia can be broken down into the following periods of development:
The oldest layers occur directly atop sterile red clay, and it appears that 'Ain Ghazal began as a small village, somewhere around 2 hectares (has) in area. The lucrative combination of environmental conditions (see below) allowed a rapid MPPNB population growth, and within 600-700 years as many as 600-750 people lived together in a compact community that covered 5 has (Fig. 5 and fig. 6).
The end of the MPPNB in the southern Levant was a tumultuous one, and there were severe disturbances in the settlement pattern of the region (Rollefson 1987). Wholesale abandonment of farming villages in Israel and the Jordan Valley began around this time, and the dislocated populations sought refuge elsewhere, probably often in highland Jordan, and certainly some of them at 'Ain Ghazal. Near the end of the MPPNB and the beginning of the LPPNB, 'Ain Ghazal underwent a virtual population explosion, expanding not only on the main area west of the Zarqa River, but also across the stream on the eastern bank, altogether doubling in size within a couple of generations to ca. 10 has in the early LPPNB and reaching 15 has by 6,000 bc (Rollefson 1997a); by this time it is likely that around 2,500 people lived at 'Ain Ghazal.
The term "town" is used as Adams and Nissen (1972: 18) defined the term: falling between "villages" (0.1 to 6.0 hectares) and "cities" (greater than 25 hectares), towns were intermediate in terms of size and population as well as structural complexity. Other PPNB towns were founded in Jordan, including Wadi Shuíeib (Simmons et al. 1989), Basta (Nissen et al. 1987), Es-Sifiya (Mahasneh 1997), 'Ain Jammam (Waheeb and Fino 1997), and Al-Baseet (Fino 1997). In the southern Levant the phenomenon of PPNB "mega-sites" appears to be unique to Jordan (Gebel and Rollefson 1997). But it was also during this period of rapid population growth in the MPPNB and LPPNB that social and economic organization changed dramatically, and while not reaching "urban" status, 'Ain Ghazal and its Jordanian neighbors left the simple, egalitarian village behind.
But after the constant pressure on the land around 'Ain Ghazal during the 1.3 millennia of the MPPNB and LPPNB periods, it should not be surprising that the quality of life for the townspeople had begun to decline, and in the LPPNB itself there may have been considerable hardship; many families were forced to cope with more and more mouths to feed with less and less production of food from the fields and the herds. The eastern area across the Zarqa River seems to have declined in terms of residential housing, and on the western side of the Zarqa housing density fell considerably during the PPNC, indicating a decline in absolute population that continued then onwards. The East Field appears to have been deserted as a residential area by the beginning of the PPNC. With the onset of the Yarmoukian Pottery Neolithic period, the size of 'Ain Ghazal continued to contract, for not only was no evidence of domestic use of the East Field found, but the North Field area also appears to have been abandoned. Furthermore, houses were very far apart, and it is likely that the population had fallen to levels of the early MPPNB. By the time the last permanent farmers were struggling to make a living at 'Ain Ghazal near the end of the 6th or the beginning of the 5th millennium, probably fewer people lived at 'Ain Ghazal on a permanent basis than when the settlement was first established.
Eventually, the fields
around 'Ain Ghazal had simply played out, and farming was no longer a reliable
means of supporting a family. The last vestiges of Neolithic presence at
'Ain Ghazal are some circular tent foundations of pastoral nomads of the
late Yarmoukian period (Fig. 7), the testimony of
seasonal visits to the permanent waters of the spring and river by the
herders of sheep and goats who had mythical, if not real, memories of life
in a magnificent center of human activity.
The Changing Environment
at 'Ain Ghazal
The setting around modern 'Ain Ghazal is drab and depressing: that part of the landscape that hasnít been engulfed by rapid urban sprawl is empty of all but the hardiest weeds and thistles, and in the dry season whirlwinds whip through the site like small dusty tornadoes. Even before the population of nearby Amman exploded following the 1967 War, the hillsides on both sides of the Zarqa River were barren slopes that attracted only a few Bedouin tents after the end of the rainy season (Rollefson 1997a: Figs. 1-2).
But the situation for 20th century Jordan canít be used to place 'Ain Ghazal in the contexts that witnessed its growth and sociocultural elaboration. The fragility of the ecosystem in the southern Levant is well-documented over the past 15 millennia, and the area around 'Ain Ghazal never recovered from an environmental calamity that began around 9,000 years ago while the settlement was enjoying its greatest florescence. In those 90 centuries, unending overgrazing and continual rain and wind erosion have turned the surrounding countryside into a virtual extension of the steppe expanses immediately to the east of 'Ain Ghazal.
The environmental evidence comes principally from faunal remains and burned wood. Charcoal fragments are dominated by oak (Quercus ithaburensis), although there is also tamarisk and poplar. The inferences we can draw are that the latter two species grew along the Zarqa River, while the hillsides and plateaus included stands of open oak forest.
Animal bones from more than 50 species (Köhler-Rollefson et al. 1988) give us our best indication of the local vegetational zones and how this mosaic of plant communities changed through time. In the MPPNB period the great variety of species shows that the immediate area surrounding 'AinGhazal included several major ecological zones, including woodland, steppe, riverine forest gallery, wooded parkland, desert, and even standing water (Köhler-Rollefson and Rollefson 1990: 4 and Table 1; Köhler-Rollefson et al. 1993). Of all of the animal species, one provided approximately one-half of the remains: the goat, which was domesticated in the MPPNB (Köhler-Rollefson 1997; von den Driesch and Wodtke 1997).
By the Late PPNB the great diversity of animals had declined considerably, and by the PPNC the number of species had dwindled to around 15, testimony to the degraded environment around the settlement. Gone were the woodland-related animals such as marten and badger, as well as the small carnivores (especially the fox and wild felines) and most of the birds, and by the beginning of the 6th millennium it was clear that hunting had declined in its importance (50% of the meat was procured this way in the MPPNB; Fig. 8), and at only around 10%, meat from wild animals probably served more as a source of variety in the diet than as a principal component of meals (e.g., Köhler-Rollefson et al. 1993). The people at 'Ain Ghazal compensated for the loss of protein from wild animals by increasing the scope of domesticated animals, adding sheep in the LPPNB, pigs in the PPNC, and cattle by the end of the PPNC or beginning of the Yarmoukian, if not before.
The replacement of wild meat resources by newly domesticated ones shows the cleverness, flexibility, determination, and perhaps desperation of a people who were confronted with a persistent and increasingly severe decline in nearby habitats, a situation that undoubtedly added to social stresses as the population increased in size (see below).
The relative proportions of animals used at 'Ain Ghazal stands in contrast to the clay animal figurines described later, at least in the MPPNB period. (The number of animal figurines in the later phases is too small for any meaningful interpretation). Before the middle of the 7th millennium bc, goats dominated the animal bones by far, yet only two figurines from the MPPNB have been ascribable to goats (based on the characteristic spine behind the horns); instead, the overwhelming proportion of the clay representations are of cattle, a species that evidently was still wild at the time, and a type of animal whose fierceness was perhaps responsible in part for the relatively few cattle bones in the faunal inventory. But perhaps it is simply an expression of the old rubric that "familiarity breeds contempt" in the case of under-representation of goat figurines, while the sheer size and ferocity of the aurochs contributed to the fascination in the minds of the people, and that the figurines were a part of a "cattle cult" (e.g., McAdam in Rollefson et al. 1985: 87-88) that preceded the celebrated shrines at Çatal Hüyük in Anatolia (Mellaart 1967: Figs. 39-42) by a thousand years.
The relationships among people in the 'Ain Ghazal settlement (and with other communities in the area) appear to have changed dramatically over the duration of the townës existence. Much of our information comes from the kinds of houses the people built (as well as other kinds of structures), but an important source also includes the burial styles and other aspects of post-mortem treatment of the town's residents.
In the earliest part of 'Ain Ghazal's development, the village was compactly organized, with houses built in very close proximity to each other along the west bank of the Zarqa River. The "nearest neighbor" distribution of the houses suggests that closeness of the dwellings was probably associated with kinship: some houses were built so near to each other that a person could not walk between them (see Fig. 5 and Fig. 6), but such groups of houses were separated from other clusters by several meters.
Nevertheless, all of the houses during the MPPNB were isolated structures (in contrast to the common walls shared by multiple dwellings at MPPNB Beidha, for example; cf. Byrd 1994). The size of the structures was generally small, with floor surfaces ranging from 35-50 m2. At the beginning of the MPPNB period the houses seem to have been single-room buildings, although over time the floor space was reduced by the construction of interior walls that at the same time created separate rooms. While this development might be taken to indicate a "desire" for some degree of privacy, or to separate some work areas from other kinds of activity, it is more likely that changes to the use of interior stone walls was a reaction to the depletion of sizable trees in the near vicinity of the town to serve as sturdy posts to support the roof of the house (Rollefson and Köhler-Rollefson 1989); in effect, the roof was being supported by the interior walls, not posts that could only be brought from increasing distances from the town (Rollefson 1990).
The house sizes throughout the Levant, including 'Ain Ghazal, indicate that the dwellings were occupied by single-family units of parents and unmarried children, a common arrangement in current subsistence agricultural societies. The clumping of houses in the MPPNB suggests that these families were independent in terms of economic production and consumption. The practice of familial sharing was the norm in times of shortfall, and certainly it can't be excluded that contributing to households outside the cognate group was a normal practice during calamitous periods for some single family or cluster of related families.
After some 700 years of environmental degradation mentioned earlier, the farming villages in the Jordan Valley and Israel were abandoned, and those families that immigrated to 'Ain Ghazal could be absorbed only with suitable adaptations to both the social and economic spheres of daily life. 'Ain Ghazal's social system, the interrelationship of families, lineages, and clans that defined rights and obligations to land tenure, ritual property, and community obligations, was probably strained by the newcomers, but by demonstrating the degree of kinship ties, the stresses were probably ameliorated if not totally resolved. The eruptive expansion of 'Ain Ghazal on the western bank of the Zarqa River is remarkable enough, but the establishment of the new neighborhood across the river on the eastern bank raises several questions due to the automatic isolation of this group of people. Unfortunately, up to the present time our excavations in the East Field have been too limited in terms of exposed area and depth to gain a clear impression of the nature of those families who chose (or were forced?) to live apart from the main settlement at the end of the MPPNB period (cf. Rollefson and Simmons 1986: 145-147). The destruction of the part of the East Field closest to the Zarqa River by the Hijaz Railway and the water purification plant may make this a problem that can't be resolved.
But during the LPPNB phase, it seems that life was becoming increasingly worse for the residents of 'Ain Ghazal. Our architectural information is restricted due to later PPNC and Yarmoukian destruction of underlying LPPNB deposits, but the few relatively intact houses in the North Field and East Field show that a new social order had evolved. Two-storied buildings of considerable size (up to twice the floor plan of the MPPB for the ground floor alone) are clearly documented for two structures in the North Field (Fig. 9), and another case is probable for the South Field on the basis of exposures in a bulldozer cut in the parking-lot area. One partially excavated dwelling in the East Field indicates at least a "split-level" building, if not a true two-story arrangement (Rollefson and Kafafi 1997: 32-33).
The importance of these two-story buildings of relatively enormous size is that the common nuclear family household of the MPPNB had developed in some cases, at least, into extended family units during the LPPNB. Instead of the independent economic units of the MPPNB, by the latter half of the 7th millennium closely related families (parents and married brothers, parents and married daughters, or some combination) had developed whereby nuclear family units pooled their labor and consequent resources into a common store to be shared by the participating cognates and their spouses (Rollefson 1997b). If this is indeed the case, the scenario would fit the other implications (faunal, charcoal) of continued environmental deterioration and stresses on the social structure.
By the beginning of the 6th millennium, there are clear indications that sociocultural alterations had developed major changes in social structure, especially in architectural forms. For the first time two distinct versions of domestic buildings appeared, and the functional probabilities are telling. The first, or "normal", building was a major departure from the imposing LPPNB double-story structures: in the PPNC family life reverted to the nuclear family situation, with parents and unmarried children living in a small single-room house of ca. 15 m2, although the associated walled courtyard was the scene of important daily activities (Rollefson and Köhler-Rollefson 1993: 36 and Fig. 1). Notably, the walled courtyard around a domestic house made its first appearance during the PPNC period at 'AinGhazal, although walled courtyards were associated with the LPPNB shrines (see below).
The new architectural phenomenon was the "corridor building", a semisubterranean storage feature that was probably associated with families who lived at 'Ain Ghazal only during a part of the yearly round (Fig. 10). For the rainy season in the fall/winter until the end of the harvest in May/June, these families would have been in the steppe and desert areas with the herds of sheep and goats, returning to 'AinGhazal when the water and vegetation in the eastern regions had disappeared (Rollefson and Köhler-Rollefson 1993).
By the beginning of the
Yarmoukian period, the PPNC partial separation of the 'Ain Ghazal population
into permanently settled farming and mobile pastoral groups was evidently
concluded. The earlier phases of the Yarmoukian presence are once again
uniform in terms of the kinds of dwellings, suggesting that the pastoral
element was no longer an integral part of the 'Ain Ghazal community. Like
the PPNC houses, there is a clear indication of single-family structures
(Fig. 11), and nuclear family independence is emphasized
by the relative isolation of houses in the extensive courtyards, where
neighbors were probably at least 15 m away (Kafafi and Rollefson 1995:
There are several sources of information that reveal that social distinctions existed at 'Ain Ghazal right from the beginning. At least part-time economic specialization for some individuals throughout the MPPNB and LPPNB is reflected by the non-random distribution of chipped stone debris, particularly the by-products of the naviform core-and-blade technology that required specialized knowledge of flint knapping and which relied on specially mined flint from sources ca. 2 km north of 'Ain Ghazal (Quintero and Wilke 1995; Quintero 1997; 1998). It has also been suggested that the concentration of certain animal remains in the MPPNB period might be taken to show specialized hunting by some families for their fur (von den Driesch and Wodtke 1997). Beyond this, potential specialization may have been associated with conducting ceremonies and ritual activity by part-time shamans, perhaps leading to full-time shamans or "priests" in the LPPNB period (see below).
By the PPNC period it is
likely that economic specialization arose among some families in each lineage
or clan of the community, with some families remaining full-time farmers
while other related families took the sheep and goats to the steppe and
desert for much of the year. By the Yarmoukian period, this economic specialization
had reached the point that the agricultural and pastoral segments of the
subsistence economy had become segregated completely, although seasonal
exchange of agricultural and pastoral goods probably was routine until
the 'Ain Ghazal farming component broke down totally.
But it is in the ritual sphere that social differences within families and larger kinship units, and in the community in general, are most emphatically demonstrated. Burials, for example, argue for at least three different "sorts" of people:
The practice of skull separation and special treatment certainly did not carry into the PPNC period (Fig. 17 and Fig. 18), and there are some reasons to think that perhaps this practice was already abandoned before the end of the LPPNB. We have no certain evidence of special skull treatment from 'Ain Ghazal in the last half of the 7th millennium, but the frequent presence of skulls with burials at LPPNB Basta suggests that in southern Jordan, at least, the skull cult had come to an end by be last quarter of the 7th millennium (Nissen, Muheisen and Gebel 1991: 17-19).
For the Yarmoukian period, we have no burials at all at 'Ain Ghazal, suggesting that burial within the community limits had lost all social distinctions. Yarmoukian burials are rare all over the Levant, although several were recovered from Yarmoukian deposits at Wadi Shu'eib (Simmons et al. 1989: 36-40).
Several structures have been unearthed at 'Ain Ghazal that apparently were not used as domestic dwellings: at least four from the LPPNB period, none from the PPNC and one from the Yarmoukian period; in addition, it is possible that three more LPPNB buildings may have served in some non-domestic way. So far, all of the MPPNB structures excavated at the town appear to have been normal houses.
Two and probably three different sorts of non-domestic buildings are known from the latter half of the 7th millennium bc. The apse buildings (one from the East Field, one from the Central Field and one or two from the North Field), named after the curved end of one of the ends of the rectangular buildings, are much smaller (ca. 7.5 m2 interior floor space) than normal houses at 'Ain Ghazal for any of the occupational periods, raising the likelihood that they are non-domestic in nature. In the center of the apse wall of one example stood a large orthostat, and beside it were two large stones that mimicked another orthostat, Fig. 19; (Rollefson, Kafafi and Simmons 1990: Fig. 12). And finally, adding to the probability that these buildings may have been ritually associated, the circular shrine excavated in the North Field in 1993 was evidently an evolutionary development in design, since it was the fourth and final phase of the use of a structure that began as an apsidal building (Rollefson and Kafafi 1994: 20-22; Fig. 9).
The two circular cult buildings or "shrines" (Figs. 20 and 21) from the North Field are smaller still (less than 5 m2), and this diminutive area, the focus on the central hole and the character of the subfloor channels, the rare geometry, and the multiple reflooring episodes are all strong points to claim that the circular buildings were specially dedicated to cult activity, possibly overseen by a shaman or priest who was associated with a particular kinship unit (Rollefson and Kafafi 1994: 20-23; 1997; Kafafi and Rollefson 1994: 239). In view of larger cultic buildings (see below), we prefer to call the smaller, circular buildings "shrines" to indicate a lower rank in a hierarchy of ritual buildings.
The remaining two ritual structures, which we refer to as "temples", are located in the East Field, across the Zarqa River from the main settlement (see Fig. 1). The smaller of the two is situated high up the slope. It is rectangular, and although one end was destroyed be erosion, it would have measured at least 20 m2 in floor area (Fig. 22). In contrast to domestic structures from the PPNB (both Middle and Late), this building has a dirt floor. The presence of three "standing stones", a floor altar, a red-painted hearth surrounded by seven stones, and a tall (ca. 80 cm) anthropomorphic orthostat in the eastern wall (Fig. 23) all point decidedly to a building devoted to ritual activity. Its larger size than the shrines and apsidal buildings, the location at the edge of the settlement, and the nature of the interior "furnishing" suggest that the building was not associated with any particular kin group, but instead may have served the entire community (Rollefson and Kafafi 1996a; 1996b).
The other LPPNB ritual building is a rectangular structure consisting of two large rooms, although very little remains of the western one; nevertheless, even the preserved floor space totals almost 36 m2. The eastern room reveals a raised altar consisting of two massive limestone slabs supported by three pairs of orthostats (or "standing stones") against the center of the eastern wall: in front of the altar is a floor hearth (unpainted) that was once surrounded by seven flat stones (Fig. 24). The floor was made of clean clay spread over a river cobble foundation. At the door between the two rooms, a screen wall would have blocked any view of activities in the eastern room to anyone standing in the western room. (Rollefson and Kafafi 1996a; 1996c: 20-22; Figs. 13-15). Charcoal from the floor of the eastern room has produced a radiocarbon date of 6,130 ± 65 bc, which indicates it was abandoned near the end of the LPPNB period. The chronological relationship of this temple with the other one is not clear.
Architecture in the Yarmoukian period consists of both rectangular and circular floor plans (Rollefson and Kafafi 1994: 16-17 and Fig.7; 1997; Kafafi and Rollefson 1995: 14-16 and Fig. 2), and all of the Yarmoukian structures investigated so far appear to have been regular dwelling places for nuclear families.
But one apsidal building in the Central Field from the LPPNB period was excavated by the Yarmoukians and used ostensibly for some public purpose (Fig. 19). The floor was approximately 50 cm beneath the contemporary Yarmoukian surface, and a small courtyard appears to have been set off by stones to the west of the now semisubterranean structure. The exclusive presence of Yarmoukian fine-ware cups and small bowls and the absence of any rougher domestic pottery suggests that the oval-ended building served some public purpose, although the lack of any diagnostic artifacts or features makes it difficult to suggest what that purpose might have been. The ritual sphere of the Yarmoukians is poorly known at 'Ain Ghazal and elsewhere in the Levant, and there is no reason to suggest that the apsidal structure served as anything but a meeting place, perhaps for a village council or some other civic end.
Ritual Buildings at Contemporaneous Sites
Despite the concentrated efforts on Neolithic excavations in the past two decades, the number of sites that have produced buildings possibly used for ritual purposes is comparatively small. Few would dispute the temple designation for the early MPPNB building at Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia (Hauptmann 1993), nor the two MPPNB structures with engraved pillars (the Pillar of Snakes and Pillar of Lions buildings) at nearby Göbekli Tepe (Schmidt 1997). The age of the "special buildings" at Çayönü, including the one with more than 70 crania and 400 other human burials called the "Skull Building", is not known with clarity (Özdogan and Özdogan 1989: 70-72; cf. Çambel 1981: 532-534), but a later MPPNB to LPPNB date for all of them would not be far off the mark; once again, the "Skull Building", at least, seems clearly associated with ritual. Also in Turkey, Çatal Höyük is well known for the large number of domestic shrines highly decorated with symbolic sculpture and painting, all dating to the 6th millennium (Mellaart 1967), although Hodder suggests considerable restraint using such "loaded" labels as "shrines" (Hodder 1996: 6).
In the southern Levant only two sites other than 'Ain Ghazal have claimed buildings associated with public or ritual usage. Kenyon spoke of clear "evidence of ceremonial use" for a (Middle) PPNB structure at Jericho, a shrine that had a niche and an exotic stone monolith that was the "cult object worshipped in [the] little shrine" (Kenyon 1981: 306-307; Pls. 172 a-b, 173a). Kenyon also argued that it was reasonable to consider another (M)PPNB building in Trench I as "a cult center or temple" based on the unique ground plan and interior furnishings (Kenyon 1981: 74; Pl. 221).
At Beidha, too, Kirkbride found three buildings whose ground plan, floor characteristics, and upright slabs led her to conclude that they "had something to do with some kind of religious observance" (Kirkbride 1968a: 92-96 and Pls. 25B-28). But it was not possible to assign a date to this complex of buildings, for they were found in an area isolated from the rest of the settlement. The construction styles are so singular that they can't be used for seriation with the other buildings at Beidha, nor were any diagnostic artifacts found for secure relative dating.
On the main tell itself, Kirkbride unearthed a large and long-used building in Level II whose size compared to the other structures in this stratum certainly made it stand out from typical domestic units (Kirkbride 1966: 11-14 and Fig. 2). A large central hearth and a huge stone block just inside the door suggested to Kirkbride that the building may have been a "communal meeting place" of some kind (Kirkbride 1968b: 271). Level II has commonly be regarded as PPNB, but there are some suggestions now that this stratum (and Layer III beneath) may in fact be PPNC based on the architectural similarity of the Beidha corridor buildings to PPNC bunkers at 'Ain Ghazal, as well as possible problems concerning the radiocarbon samples used to date this layer (cf. Rollefson 1992: 4; endnote 4).
The lower strata at Beidha, which are firmly dated to the earlier half of the 7th millennium bc, also produced a dichotomy in terms of building size. One or two large buildings in the central part of the site were surrounded by smaller domestic houses, and beyond their disproportionate size, Byrd also noted that the large buildings also had much larger hearths, much less trash, and virtually no in situ artifacts on the floors (Byrd 1994: 656-657). This stability over time led Byrd to conclude that they were "corporate", non-domestic buildings that "were associated with the rich ideological and ritual tradition that flourished during the Neolithic" (Byrd 1994: 657).
After ten seasons of excavation at 'Ain Ghazal, an enormous array of information has been brought to light that afford considerable insights into the daily lives of the people and how the lifestyles of the residents changed over more than two thousand years. Much of this information deals with symbols and rituals, a fascinating sphere of human interaction with the physical and supernatural world that covered not only the present time for the people, but also their past as it was understood and explained through oral history.
But as can be seen from
what has been said above, and from what will be presented in the following
papers, 'Ain Ghazal was not unique in any of its aspects: size, population,
social organization, economic development, ritualósimilarities and parallels
can be found throughout the Levant. But what makes 'Ain Ghazal unique,
perhaps, is the wealth of the evidence for all these areas of daily or
periodic existence to be found in a single settlement. The culture of 'Ain
Ghazal shared much in common with the rest of the towns and villages in
the region, and it has given us our clearest picture of how the subsystems
of that culture functioned as an integral whole.
Adams, R. McC. and Nissen, H.J.
|Fig. 1. Site map of 'Ain Ghazal, located on the western (top) and eastern banks of the Wadi Zarqa (Zarqa River). The large subrectangular feature in the center of the map is a modern water treatment plant, now obsolete. (Drawing: by G. Rollefson based on earlier versions by A. Omari and M. Bataineh).||Fig 2. The section of 'Ain Ghazal west of the Zarqa River. The site ranges from the building at the left of the photo to the far edge on the right, and from the highway about one-third of the way from the bottom of the photo to about halfway up the hill. The East Field is just below the cliff from which the photo was taken. Part of the water treatment plant in Fig. 1 is at the lower left. (Photo: G. Rollefson).||Fig. 3. A part of the bulldozer section just above and to the west of the highway (near the center of Fig. 2). More than 4 m of deposits rise from the lowest floor (the white line above the north arrow), which rests on sterile basal clay, to the top of the photo. (Photo: C. Blair).|
|Fig. 4. Another part of the bulldozer section of the western part of 'Ain Ghazal, some 50m to the north of Fig. 3. The wall of one MPPNB house rises just above a lime plaster floor at the center of the photo, and this structure is stratigraphically above, and thus later in time, the house wall at the bottom of the photo. (Photo: C. Blair).||Fig. 5. The western room of an MPPNB house from the Central Field; the eastern room (at the top) was almost completely removed by bulldozers during the construction of the highway in the 1970s. The photo was taken after the plaster floor of the house was removed by archaeologists. The white patches near the center of the room are plaster "patches" placed above subfloor burials. Note the plaster floor at the upper right, still in situ. (Photo: C. Blair).||Fig. 6. A closer view of the plaster floor at the upper right in Fig. 6; like its northern neighbor, almost all of the (larger) eastern room was destroyed by modern bulldozer activity. The distance between the two house walls is less than 40 cm, testament to the housing density in MPPNB times at 'Ain Ghazal. (Photo: C. Blair).|
|Fig. 7. The circular structure at the top of the photo is a late Yarmoukian tent foundation, a remnant of a visit to 'Ain Ghazal by Bedouin-like sheep/goat pastoralists. The stone feature at the center of the photo is a walled "street", originally constructed by LPPNB or PPNC residents, but used into the Yarmoukian period as well. (Photo: Y. Zo'bi).||Fig. 8. Projectile points used for hunting wild animals. The lower row is from the MPPNB, the center row from the LPPNB and PPNC, and the upper row from the Yarmoukian period. (Photo: G. Rollefson).||Fig. 9. The badly damaged building in the upper right 2/3 of the photo represents the ground floor of a two-story building that caught fire and was thoroughly destroyed in the later LPPNB period. Reconstruction of the floor plan suggests that 3 or four families probably inhabited the structure. (The circular feature in the plaster floor at upper right is a hearth). (Photo: Y. Zo'bi).|
|Fig. 10. A PPNC "corridor building", with the entrance at top center. A flagstone ramp leading down (from bottom towards the top of the photo) is at left, a necessary feature in view of the subterranean nature of the structure. (Photo: C. Blair).||Fig. 11. At lower right is a Yarmoukian "long house" with at least three rooms, measuring ca. 4 x 9 m. A small oval "kitchen" outhouse occurs at left center. (Photo: Y. Zo'bi).||Fig. 12. An MPPNB subfloor burial. Note that although the skull was removed, the mandible (far right) was left behind. (Photo: C. Blair).|
|Fig. 13. A "trash burial" from the later MPPNB period. Contrast the "cleanliness" of the soil in Fig. 12 with the inclusions of charcoal, stony rubble, and broken animal bones around the skeleton in this picture. The skull, characteristically, remained intact with the rest of the body. [Photo: Brian Byrd)||Fig. 14. An MPPNB infant burial from 'AinGhazal. Although sometimes found in special circumstances suggesting ceremonial associations, infants were generally discarded in trash deposits. "Trash burials" of adults of varying ages became increasingly frequent in the MPPNB period (cf. Rollefson 1983). (Photo: C. Blair).||Fig. 15. Three skulls of males ranging in age from ca. 15 years to older than 40. All face the east, and none shows any special treatment other than removal from the skeleton and placement beneath a house floor (cf. Fig. 6). (Photo: C. Blair).|
|Fig. 16. Four adult male skulls, all facing SW, placed in a pit in a courtyard. The skull at bottom center and at far right still retained plaster that at one time covered their faces (cf. Rollefson 1983); the other two skulls bore no evidence of plastering. (Photo: B. Byrd).||Fig. 17. Double PPNC burial from 'Ain Ghazal. The skull was retained in the upper burial. The upper part of the human body to the left was destroyed in antiquity. Note the presence of the cranium of an immature pig at the feet of the individual on the right. (Photo: C. Blair).||Fig. 18. Triple PPNC burial from 'Ain Ghazal. All three people probably died within a short time of each other, suggesting that infectious disease (tuberculosis?) may have been a serious health threat in the early 7th millennium bc. (Photo: C. Blair).|
|Fig. 19. An apsidal building originally constructed in the LPPNB period but later cleared and re-used by Yarmoukian residents at 'Ain Ghazal. (Photo: Hisahiko Wada).||Fig. 20. The two circular "shrines" in the North Field. The one to the left is probably a hastily constructed replacement of the other, which may have suffered severe damage due to earth subsidence. (Photo: Y. Zo'bi and B. Degedeh).||Fig. 21. Close-up view of the circular "shrine" at the right in Fig. 20. The circular shape is the fourth phase of use, which began as an apsidal building. (Photo: Y. Zo'bi).|
|Fig. 22. View to the west of the LPPNB temple built high on the slope of the East Field. The standing stones are at top center (the middle stone is tumbled over) and the red plaster hearth right center. A burned clay "floor altar" lies just to the left of the standing stones. (Photo: B. Degedeh).||Fig. 23. A view to the east of the temple LPPNB temple in Fig. 22. In the back (eastern) wall is a large, shaped anthropomorphic orthostat. (Photo: B. Degedeh).||Fig. 24. The LPPNB temple at the south end of the East Field was built above an earlier LPPNB house (lower third of the photo). The altar is against the rear (eastern) wall, in front of which is an unpainted plaster hearth. (Photo: B. Degedeh).|