The Public Building

Normal houses for permanent residents ofYarmukian 'Ain Ghazal were mud-floored, rectangular, multiroomed, relatively large (ca. 9 x 5 m), and erected on the surface. One structure stands out from this standard. Yarmukian excavators encountered a thin LPPNB lime-plaster floor, which they used for their own needs. Measuring ca. 6 x 3.75 m (exterior, NS by EW), the southern end was built with a shallow apse incorporating an orthostat (and an adjacent "pseudo-orthostat") in the center of the arc. The two rooms were of unequal size: a smaller antechamber, with an entry at the NW corner of the structure, measured 1.5x 2.5 m (interior, NS by EW); the other was 3x2.5m in interior dimensions (Figures 12 and 13).

Beyond the form, size, and reuse of a lime-plaster floor, other differences indicate that this building had a special character. Unlike the common domestic dwellings, only sherds of decorated Yarmukian "fineware" cups and small jars were found inside the rooms and immediately outside the building. No specific ritual paraphernalia were found, although this negative evidence can be misleading. On the other hand, it might be that this structure was reserved for public functions, such as a meeting hall for a community "council" to reach decisions regarding the profane aspects of 'Ain Ghazal's inhabitants. Or, perhaps it was a building used for both religious and civic purposes at different times of the annual round.

Figure 12. The LPPNB temple or sanctuary at 'Ain Ghazal. A massive retaining wall (top of photo) protects a two-roomed structure below. The raised alter is visible in the center of the .east wall of the temple, and the right-angle screen wall is just visible above the meter scale. The building in the foreground is an earlier LPPNB domestic structure. (Photo: Y. Zoubi).

Figure 12. The LPPNB temple or sanctuary at 'Ain Ghazal. A massive retaining wall (top of photo) protects a two-roomed structure below. The raised alter is visible in the center of the .east wall of the temple, and the right-angle screen wall is just visible above the meter scale. The building in the foreground is an earlier LPPNB domestic structure. (Photo: Y. Zoubi).

Figure 13. View toward the south of the Yarmukian "public building," which was originally LPPNB in age. Three similar LPPNB apsidal buildings have been found elsewhere at 'Ain Ghazal but not at other LPPKB sites in the southern Levant. (Photo: H. Wada)
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