REL226: Biblical Archaeology                                RJDKnauth


Period: Neolithic (“New Stone Age”)   Years: 8500-4300 BCE


What is happening in the Bible?  Precedes biblical chronology.

What is happening in Egypt? Small village with round huts, street.

What is happening in Mesopotamia? “Neolithic revolution” – first settlements

Settlement Patterns: small villages (clusters of huts), possible regular seasonal migrations.



            Building materials- ‘hog-backed’ mud brick (flat bottom, convex top), reeds, clay, stone.

            Dwellings- caves still in use (e.g. at Mt. Carmel); small 4-6m diameter round or oval huts (central pillar supports roof?) or 3x7m rectangular; dug into ground with stone bedding and clay-plastered floors (lime),

walls w/ thick layer of polished clay plaster, central plastered fire-pits (possibly lead to invention of pottery).

Sunken shallow pit dwellings with domed roofs.

            Fortifications (walls, gates, etc)- Jericho round tower (8.5m diameter, 7.7m tall),

                        massive retaining wall (defense? erosion terrace? 6m tall), broad trench.

                        Evidence for social organization or central authority?

            Water works- possible beginnings of irrigation from local rivers or streams.


            Other- “Desert Kites” – for trapping and penning herds – either domesticated or wild (?).


Pottery: Invented 6000 BCE, possibly from sunken clay-plastered fire-pits. Hand-formed w/ slip, zig-zag pattern.


Agriculture: first farming, possible irrigation: barley, lentils, single-corn emmer wheat, legumes. 

Domestication of sheep, goats, cattle. Hunting>Herding.  “Desert Kites.”


Tools, Weapons, Metallurgy: No metals yet.  Tools of stone, flint, wood and bone. New flint industry flourishes with increasing specialization: arrowheads, sickle blades, borers, scrapers, hoes, axes, adzes, etc.

Polished stone celts. Wide flat querns for flour preparation.  Mortar & Pestle. Woven textiles, floor mats.


Burials: Primary  burials with articulated skeletons, carefully arranged contracted position w/ jewelry.

Secondary burials disarticulated (hunters who died at seasonal camp, reburied at base site?).

Offerings indicate belief in afterlife?  Small stone burial markers at Carmel.  Dolmen?

Jericho plastered skulls kept separately in groups with jaws removed, in jars in houses. 

Bodies buried under floors or in open spaces.


Art (ritual objects, seals, sculptures, jewelry, etc.): necklace beads (stone, shell, bone, teeth), stone masks,

clay and stone figurines / statuettes (Yarmukian fertility goddess?), plastered skulls and statues.


Texts, Inscriptions:  writing not yet invented.

Major Sites: Jericho, Carmel caves, Gesher, Natufian culture.

Major Innovations: Agriculture, domestication of animals, invention of pottery, flint usage.

Hunting/Gathering replaced by farming/herding – allows more permanent communities.

Evidence for Trade, foreign relations: trade in obsidian – found in Syria, Palestine.


Continuity/discontinuity, local development vs. migration: