Ain Ghazal "PPNC"






pig skulls2

Athlit Yam









'including children/infants.

'including children/infants.

probably some form cf funerary structure. Indeed, even the more convincing dwellings at Mallaha and Wadi Hammeh 27 display clear evidence as to the incorporation of obvious ritual and ceremonial practices (personal obsservation). As for the Late and Final Natufian, several sites in the Mediterranean zone, such as Shuqba and Nahal Oren V-VI display little, if any, evidence for obvious domestic architectural features and could perhaps be more convincingly interpreted as mortuary centers (notwithstanding problems of early excavation techniques).

Monitoring Burials

From a technical perspective many PPNB burials obviously stratigraphically predate the construction of the overlying architectural features. However, various lines of evidence indicate that the precise location of the burials was monitored by the builders, and that they may sometimes ultimately be viewed as integral to the construction of habitations (see Kuijt 1995,1996). Skull removal is usually (but not always) prior to construction of plaster floors; that is, there is some lapse in time between primary burial and subsequent construction (see also Chapter 7). Removal of plaster floors, burial, and subsequent replastering appears to be the exception rather than the rule. In at least three instances at Kfar HaHoresh burial pits clearly strati-graphically underlie and are sealed by plaster surfaces. The small slab marker stuck to the plaster floor immediately above the group of mandibles (see above) appears to indicate that it served as a "tombstone"to mark the precise location of the interment. So, too, the "totem"posthole in the rectangular feature, immediately overlying one of the modeled skulls in the upper area, could be interpreted as a marker rather than a purely constructional feature.

The rectangular plastered structure immediately overlying the supine headless burial at Kfar HaHoresh also appears to have been positioned intentionally relative to the skeleton. A somewhat similar situation also pertains at Beisamoun with respect to the burial of two individuals, H201 and H202, in Feature 191, under the lime-plaster floor in the western corner of Habitation 1 (Lechevallier 1978:Figure 47). The same may be true of two other individuals, H207 and H208, as well as the remains of seven other individuals in Locus 188 under the floor of the adjoining antechamber of Habitation 1,Locus 180.All of these interments lacked the cranial elements. So too, at Abu Gosh the headless burial of an individual was recovered from Locus 537 beneath the plastered floor of Locus 507 in the northern corner of Habitation I (Lechevallier 1978:35 and Figures 4 and 9).

Though most of the interments at Yiftahel were located in fills after structures went out of use, the only subfloor burials were one in each of the three units constituting the structure: a neonatal, Homo 5, in the northwest corner of the structure, Locus 700; an infant, Homo 6, in the middle of the central unit, Locus 710; and a young female adult, Homo 3, lacking the cranium, on the east side cf the southern unit, Locus 720 (Hershkovitz et al. 1986). At 'AinGhazal burials have been reported to be located under floors adjacent to plaster-built hearths as well as close to walls under structures (Rollefson 1983, 1986). In all these cases, the burials and subsequent removal of the crania commonly (though not exclusively) appear to predate the initial construction of the overlying lime-plaster floors. Furthermore, it is f some interest to note that there are also burials actually incorporated within architectural features at 'Ain Ghazal, Jericho, and Basta (Kenyon 1981; Kuijt 1996;Nissen et al. 1991, 1992; Rollefson 1986).

Thus, in some instances at least, architecture was intentionally constructed over what had previously served as cemeteries or burial grounds: the locational data would seem to indicate that the relative position of the burials was monitored (not surprising given the fact that the crania were likely commonly removed at least a year or so later) and taken into account for the subsequent construction. In other cases abandoned structures were subsequently then used as burial grounds, e.g.Yiftahel, Beidha. Kuijt (1996) has also recently emphasized the likely function of some burials (especially children/neonatals) from Kenyon's excavations at PPNA Jericho as foundation deposits, sometimes immediately under a single "post socket" ("totem" hole) or plastered "bin." It is interesting to note possible parallels with the Late/Final Natufian cemetery at Nahal Oren, where there are circular fea-tures/postholes ("totem"holes?) as well as "stone pipes" directly associated with some graves (Stekelis and Noy 1963). Indeed Stekelis discussed the possible symbolic significance of the 'stone pipes' in terms of connections between the living and the deceased.

Somewhat similar practices can be documented already from the Early Natufian, such as at Eynan, where Cemetery B predates Shelter 131 (Cemetery A and Shelter 1 being interpreted here as an actual funerary monument), and perhaps at el Wad B2 and even Wadi Hammeh 27 (Edwards 1991; Goring-Morris 1996; Perrot and Ladiray 1988). Though seemingly not absolutely contemporary in stratigraphic terms, I would venture that such coassociations of Early Natufian cemeteries and stratigraphically later structures are unlikely to be fortuitous. The general monitoring and repetitive-ness of (symbolic?) activities is also indicated by the successive living floors exposed by Valla (1990) in Shelter 131 at Mallaha, with piles of colored pebbles. At Erq el-Ahmar there is an overlying pavement which seals and/ or marks the burials (Neuville 1951).

Though from the Late Natufian onward burials are generally single, the tradition of subsequent construction after removal of the cranium is common. Thus the demonstrated instance of Locus 1005 at Kfar HaHoresh, with stratigraphic evidence for the subsequent opening of the floor to remove the skull, prior to the replastering of the entire floor of the structure, appears to be the exception rather than the rule; interestingly the immediately overlying plaster is notably thin and overlain by yet another plaster surface, which has yet to be excavated.

Human and Animal Burials

At least two, and perhaps four, examples of burials being accompanied by almost complete carcasses of wild animals are documented at Kfar HaHoresh (Figs. 9.5 and 9.7). The fact that they are all wild animals, at a time of the possible introduction of domestic herd animals is likely to be significant. The absence or clear underrepresentation of cranial elements of these animals is also noteworthy and parallels the treatment of humans. KHH-H01 was also directly associated with one of the few intact arrowheads recovered from the site. It seems plausible to suggest that this practice may reflect beliefs associated with the status of hunters in the community at a time of profound economic change. Although these are the first cases documented in the PPNB (or PPNA for that matter), the practice of human burials accompanied by animals is known already from the Early Natufian: in all cases dogs, though domesticated, were not apparently a subsistence source but may have been primarily invested with spiritual significance rather than simply used as a hunting aid (Davis and Valla 1978;Valla et al. 1991;espe-cially Valla 1996). There may also be an aurochs cranium associated with a Khiamian/Sultanian burial at Hatoula (Lechevallier and Ronen 1994). Cauvin (1978) has also described the intentional incorporation of aurochs skulls in architectural features at Mureybet II. As such, they provide further evidence for the longevity and deep-rooted beliefs underlying such traditions.

The somewhat later PPNC levels at 'AinGhazal have revealed the presence of several instances of sporadic Sus bones (also wild) accompanying burials (Rollefson 1986). Furthermore, it is cf interest to note that at 'Ain Ghazal cattle (again nondomesticated) are disproportionately represented among animal figurines, in contrast to their actual frequency among the faunal remains of the PPNB levels (Rollefson 1986:47), a pattern seemingly present at other contemporary sites. The symbolic significance of cattle is also emphasized by the incorporation of skulls in architectural features at Catal Huyuk in eighth millennium BP levels (Mellaart 1967). But, so far, no similar evidence for the special positioning or treatment of animal skulls has come to light at Kfar HaHoresh.

Ranking as Indicated by Skull Removal and Further Treatment

One of the hallmarks of the PPNB is postmortem cranial removal following primary interment (Table 2). The tradition is prevalent, though by no means

Table 2. Distribution and Nature of Burial and Ritual Paraphernalia in PrePottery Neolitic Sites

In Southern and Central Levant

Settlement size (dunams)


Cult structures and installations



Postmortem treatment

Iconographie themes

Early & Middle

Epi-Palaeolithic Early Natu fian

Late & Final Natufian

Camps: OJ}5-Ó.15 Aggregation 10-15 (Khaianeh, Jilat)

Hamlets: <2.0 Basecamps 0,5-1.0 (F.yan, W. Hammeh, U. Bessor 6

Nuclear family huts: flimsy, 3-5 m diam. (Ohalo lï, Ein Gev I)

Moieties/sodalities: Stone-built lodges: 7-16 m diam. (Eynan, W. Hammeh)

Nuclear family huts?

Basecamps 0.5-1.0 Circular stone-built

Aggregation: <5 (R. Horesha)


Funerary struct: slablined & lime-plaster bench(Eynan habit 1.) Cave (El-Wad) Feasting (lieidha) Engraved slabs (W. Hammeh) liasins & grooves (el Wad, UB6)

Cave with circular huts (I layonim) Kidney-shaped hut of large slabs (R. Horesha) Feasting (R. Horesha) Monolith (R. Zin)


In occupation sites

Cemeteries in occupation sites Also cave sites? (Erq el-Ahmar? Kebara? Hayonim?)

Primary single, under or near huts

Primary, single group Secondary

Funerary center (Mahal Oren) Caves? (Shijqba) Also in occupation sites

Primary, secondary single, group



Skull removal rare (Eynan, E. el-Ahmar?) pigment (A. el SaratanO Dog (Eynan, (Eynan, Hayonim)


Skull removal (N. Oren, Eynan, 1 iayonini)

Ladder (Urqan 6-Rubb); Chevron (Jiita)

Meander Lozenge Animal figurines Male genitalia (el Wad, Fazael VI) (sickle handles?)

Meander Chevron Male genitalia (R. Zin?) Zoomorphic figurines

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