Ongoing projects

DURATION: 2019-2022


Neolithization processes in the Levant: The case of the Negev and Sinai deserts (10th-8th millennia cal. BC)

LITOcat project

The NEONEG project aims to better understand the Neolithic period in the Negev and Sinai deserts, a region with a particular evolution that differed from the mainstream processes of Neolithization observed in the neighbouring regions.

The main objective is to update and refine our understandings of the Neolithic developments (the Neolithic conquest) of the Negev and Sinai deserts during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (11th-8th mil. cal. BC). In this sense, the project aims to contribute to an appreciation of the heterogeneity and complexity of the multiple neolithization processes that took place in the southern Levant and, by extension, the western wing of the Fertile.

The second main objective is to study and define the nature of social interaction between the first farming settlements, which by the mid-8th millennium had expanded across much of the Near East, and the hunter-gatherer groups that lived in more inhospitable regions, such as the Negev desert. We aim to understand how desert foragers in the Negev-Sinai were connected with the neighbouring farming communities in the southern Levant.

The project is equally focused on understanding human-environment interaction in arid regions of the southern Levant. We are particularly interested in understanding potential socio-ecological responses to climate instability in the early Holocene (Rapid Climate Changes). Special care will therefore be taken in establishing any temporal correspondence and causal relationships between climate change and social dynamics.

In order to achieve the goals of the project, four actions will be undertaken:

  1. Excavation of Nahal Efe. Due to the scarcity of recent data from the region, Action 1 is focused on conducting extensive fieldwork at the Neolithic site of Nahal Efe (2019-2021), which is the largest and best preserved PPNB site in the Negev. By excavating at Efe we will be able to produce all kinds of abundant high-quality data (subsistence, technology, palaeoclimate, etc.) on the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in the Negev.
  2. Modelling the expansion of bidirectional blade technology towards the Southern Levant and Negev. Reconstruct and model the diffusion process of Bidirectional Blade Technology (BBT), a technology traditionally considered the most common formal component of the PPNB, which originated in the northern Levant during the PPNA-PPNB transition and diffused towards the southern Levant during the PPNB (8500-6500 cal. BC).
  3. Refining our knowledge on long-distance circulation of obsidian to the Southern Levant and the Negev-Sinai. Aimed at better understanding the relative fluxes of Cappadocian and eastern Anatolian obsidian to the Southern Levant to finally reach the Negev and Sinai deserts during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. How PPNA and PPNB communities obtained, used and valued obsidian as a way of understanding the important role that cultural inter-connections had in the development of Neolithic complex societies.
  4. Reconstruction of the settlement history of the Southern Levant, the Sinai and Negev deserts in particular. As a first step to characterize the complex nature of human responses to Early Holocene climate instability, we will reconstruct the archaeological signal and settlement history of the southern Levant between 8500-7000 cal. BC. The objective is to determine if there is a significant reduction in the volume of the archaeological signal around 8200 cal. BC, as occurred in other regions of the Levant.

Funding entitiesFunding entities

  • Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (I+D PGC2018-096634-B-I00)

References Bibliography

  • Borrell, F., Vardi, J. (in prep.) The lithic industries of Nahal Efe (Israel) and the PPNB of the Negev. The 9th International Conference on the PPN Chipped and Ground Stone Industries of the Near East. The University Museum. The University of Tokyo.
  • Borrell, F., Vardi, J., Ibáñez, J.J., Muñiz, J., Teira, L. (in press). Pagesos i caçadors recol·lectors als inicis del Neolític a la Mediterrània Oriental. Projectes Kharaysin (Jordània) i Nahal Efe (Israel). Tribuna d’Arqueologia.
  • Borrell, F., Ibáñez, J.J., Bar-Yosef, O. 2020. Cult paraphernalia or everyday items? Assessing the status and use of the flint artefacts from Nahal Hemar (Middle PPNB, Judean Desert). Quaternary International.
  • Borrell, F., Bocquentin, F., Gibaja, J.F., Khalaily, H. 2019. Defining the PPNC/Final PPNB in the Southern Levant: insights from the chipped stone industries of Beisamoun. In: L. Astruc, C. McCartney, F. Briois, V. Kassianidou (eds.): Near Eastern lithic technologies on the move. Interactions and contexts in Neolithic traditions. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Vol. CL. Uppsala: Astrom Editions.
  • Borrell, F., Ibáñez, J.J., Muñiz, J., Teira, L. 2019. The PPNB chipped stone industries from Kharaysin (Zarqa Valley, Jordan): preliminary insights. In: L. Astruc, C. McCartney, F. Briois, V. Kassianidou (eds.): Near Eastern lithic technologies on the move. Interactions and contexts in Neolithic traditions. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Vol. CL. Uppsala: Astrom Editions.
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