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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Production of ritual material culture in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period in Jordan : some methods for analytical investigation

  • Author(s): Bennallack, Kathleen Celia
  • et al.

The Neolithic period in Jordan has come under increasing study since the accidental discovery of 'Ain Ghazal in the late 1970s, which not only showed that large settlements were present in marginal areas, but proved to be the type site of a sub-period previously unknown in the archaeological record. As more sites are discovered and excavated, prior entrenched notions of site interactions, demographic and settlement change, ritual, and other aspects of social organization have been questioned. The discovery of both large, densely occupied "mega-sites" and smaller, perhaps more specialized, peripheral sites which were apparently totally independent of the larger sites in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic has led to the idea of a polycentric evolution of Neolithic ideas and lifeways. However, while most researchers believe that these sites were self-sufficient, this does not preclude their interaction with other sites. In this thesis, potential ritual remains from Tel Tifdan, one of these small peripheral sites in Southern Jordan, are analyzed using chemical analyses to determine whether evidence of ritual trade with nearby or distant sites can be ascertained. X- Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy are employed to determine whether the clay from a sample of figurines from the site was sourced locally. The results are inconclusive as far as location of clay sources, but theoretically could be solidified with analysis using different chemical methods

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