Sha`ar Hagolan excavation and their impact on our understanding of the Neolitisation processes in the Southern Levant
The Balkan Heritage Foundation and the Department of Archaeology at New Bulgarian University organized the BEMA Online Seminar in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology on Saturday, April 02, 2022. Guest lecturers Dr. Julien Vieugué (Permanent researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research) and Anna Eirikh-Rose(Permanent researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), dig co-directors of Sha`ar Hagolan), presented on the following topic: “Sha`ar Hagolan excavation and their impact on our understanding of the Neolitisation processes in the Southern Levant”.
The Neolithic period represents a decisive stage in the history of the Levantine populations and the Pottery Neolithic period appears to be the culmination of this transformation and, with the introduction of widespread use of pottery vessels, can be considered as another step in Neolithic Revolution. Nonetheless, the beginning of the Pottery Neolithic was one of the lesser-known periods in the Southern Levant. The discovery and intensive excavation of the Early Pottery Neolithic site at Sha’ar Hagolan make important contributions to our understanding of the Neolitisation processes. Because it includes exceptionally well-preserved stratigraphic layers (3 m thick) dating of the PPN-PN transition (6700-5900 cal. BC), the eponymous site of Sha’ar Hagolan represents a key open-air settlement for reconstructing the history of the earliest potter’s communities in the southern Levant. This major stratified site dated to the 7th millennium cal. BC, located in the Jordan Valley, extends over 20 hectares, making it one of the largest Neolithic villages in the Near East. Between 1989 and 2004, Yosef Garfinkel (Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) carried out a 3000 sq. m excavation aiming to explore the last occupation phases of the village (6200-5900 cal. BC). This large-scale excavation revealed the existence of real living quarters separated by streets, upsetting our knowledge regarding the social organization of the Yarmukian communities at the end of the 7th millennium cal. BC. It provided an impressive amount of Neolithic artifacts including 1 000 000 lithic pieces, 90 000 potsherds, 50 000 animal bones and more than 100 clay figurines, shedding new light on the economic and symbolic worlds of the society.
The current excavation project concerns the early occupation phases of the Neolithic village (6700-6200 cal. BC). The main objective is to identify the origin of the first potters’ groups who lived in the Jordan Valley.
There is a Field School dedicated to this project.
You can now watch the lecture online in the gallery bellow.