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Social identities and the expansion of stone bead-making in Neolithic Western Asia: new evidence from Jordan. (Research).


In the study of the beginnings of farming and herding in western Asia, many questions remain unanswered, but two stand out. First, important changes in craft production and exchange attended the Neolithic, but what stimulated them? Second, what were the effects of changing economies on social organisation Noun 1. social organisation - the people in a society considered as a system organized by a characteristic pattern of relationships; "the social organization of England and America is very different"; "sociologists have studied the changing structure of the family" , or vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. ? Beads and bead-making are important signals of social values, and can shed light on both issues. In this paper, we explore the expansion of stone bead-making in Neolithic western Asia, using workshops in the Jilat-Azraq Basin, eastern Jordan. By 'workshops,' we mean simply bead production areas.

Body ornaments first appear in the archaeological record The archaeological record is a term used in archaeology to denote all archaeological evidence, including the physical remains of past human activities which archaeologists seek out and record in an attempt to analyze and reconstruct the past.  in the early Upper Palaeolithic (45,000-20,000 BP), in East Africa (Enkapune ya Muto), Europe (Bacho Kiro), and western Asia (Ksar Akil, Ucagizli). Upper Palaeolithic beads, pendants and bracelets imply new attitudes to body decoration that probably had evolutionary implications. The vast majority of Upper Palaeolithic ornaments were made from ivory, shells, animal bones and teeth. By contrast, Upper Palaeolithic stone beads are rare (Kuhn et al. 2001: 7642-5; White 1993:279-80; 1995: 29). In western Asia, at the end of the Palaeolithic (Natufian period), most body ornaments were made of shells, gazelle gazelle, name for the many species of delicate, graceful antelopes of the genus Gazella, inhabiting arid, open country. Most gazelles are found only in Africa, but several species range over N Africa and SW Asia; the Persian, or goitered, gazelle (  phalanges phalanges

plural of phalanx.
, deer bones and fox teeth (D. Bar-Yosef 1991; O. Bar-Yosef 1997:166; Goring-Morris 1989:175-6; Reese 1991). Stone beads, however, continue to be rare, although Natufian hunter-gatherers were fully capable of making elaborate stone items (e.g. figurines). Stone beads become numerous and diverse only in the Neolithic (conventionally divided into several sub-periods, see Table 1). In the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA PPNA Power Plate North America Inc. (Chicago, IL) ) stone body ornaments begin to appear in abundance. By the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB PPNB Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (era) ) most sites contain them and they become more numerous and diverse in the PPNB and Early Late Neolithic (ELN Noun 1. ELN - a Marxist terrorist group formed in 1963 by Colombian intellectuals who were inspired by the Cuban Revolution; responsible for a campaign of mass kidnappings and resistance to the government's efforts to stop the drug trade; "ELN kidnappers target ). In this paper, we address six questions:

1 What stimulated the initial expansion of stone bead manufacture in the Neolithic?

2 What can early stone ornaments tell us about social identities?

3 What do aesthetic choices in stone bead-making tell us about cognition?

4 What were the social units of bead production?

5 To what degree can we speak of intensification and specialisation in Neolithic bead-making?

6 How was exchange in stone beads integrated into changing economies?

To answer such questions, the ideal evidence would come from excavations of several well-dated, contemporary sites in a defined region. Some, but not all, of the sites should have special access to a source of a localised raw material used for ornaments. Such sites would have in situ In place. When something is "in situ," it is in its original location.  bead production areas, excavated with a view to maximum recovery of microartefacts and biological evidence. The Jilat-Azraq Basin Project in Jordan provided just such an opportunity. Here, Neolithic stone bead workshops were found along with evidence for the beginnings of cultivation and sheep or goat herding.

Neolithic Settlement and Subsistence in the Jilat-Azraq Basin

The Jilat-Azraq Basin is a region of dry steppe-desert (Wadi Jilat) and oasis (Azraq), where rainfall farming is not possible today (Figure 1). Wadi Jilat lies 30-40 km east of the present-day margins of the 'Levantine Corridor' (the Jordan Valley Jordan Valley may refer to:
  • Jordan Valley in the Middle East.
  • Jordan Valley in New Kowloon, Hong Kong, near Ngau Tau Kok.
  • Jordan Valley, Oregon in the United States.
 and adjacent highlands) where rain-fed cultivation is possible and where large Neolithic villages emerged. Azraq Oasis lies 50 km north east of Wadi Jilat in this region, on the edge of the Basalt basalt (bəsôlt`, băs`ôlt), fine-grained rock of volcanic origin, dark gray, dark green, brown, reddish, or black in color. Basalt is an igneous rock, i.e., one that has congealed from a molten state.  Desert. In all, 16 late Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites have been excavated (Figure 2) (Garrard 1998, in preparation; Garrard et al. 1994a-b; Baird et al. 1992).


The earliest steps in Levantine Le·vant 1  

The countries bordering on the eastern Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Egypt.

 plant cultivation took place in the Levantine Corridor in the PPNA. In the Jilat-Azraq Basin, cultivated plants appeared only later, in the Early-Middle PPNB (Jilat 7, Azraq 31), when agricultural villages in the adjacent Levantine Corridor were already well established (Garrard 1999). Similarly, while domestic goat and sheep first appeared in Levantine Corridor villages in the Middle-Late PPNB (Horwitz et al. 1999), goat and sheep were introduced (by human populations) into the Jilat-Azraq Basin only later, in the ELN (Jilat 13, 25, Azraq 31) (Garrard et al. 1996). By then, in the Levantine Corridor many PPNB villages were abandoned and many of the successive ELN settlements were much smaller. This so-called PPNB collapse has been the subject of environmental, economic and social interpretations (Kuijt 2000; Rollefson & Kohler-Rollefson 1989).

The Jilat-Azraq Neolithic sites may be interpreted as seasonal camps occupied by small groups engaged in hunting, trapping, foraging, plant cultivation and--starting in the ELN-- sheep or goat herding. Most buildings are circular or oval, cut into bedrock, with flimsy walls made of upright limestone slabs that supported lightweight roofs. The interiors contained partitions, bins, hearths, postholes, benches, and worktables. The buildings are similar to those of other steppe-desert Neolithic sites and those used by present-day nomads.

The beads

All contexts from all 16 excavated sites were sieved through a 5 mm mesh and substantial samples were either dry or wet sieved through a 1.5 mm mesh (the latter after flotation). Artefacts from rich contexts were separated by 1 m square units. Despite these procedures, not one stone bead was found in the 10 excavated late Palaeolithic sites. However, all six of the excavated Neolithic (or later) sites produced stone beads and related debris from secure contexts--a total of 10 528 items (Table 2).

Details of the bead technology will be published elsewhere (Wright, Garrard & Critchley in preparation), but we present initial observations. Debris was classified into nodules, cores, flakes, microflakes and shatter. Finished ornaments occurred in eight basic types (Figure 3). Unfinished ornaments (blanks) occurred in the same forms, but have retouch scars or incomplete or absent perforations. Some contexts yielded tools clearly used in bead-making: flint drills, knives or saws, miniature mortars, sandstone abraders and limestone worktables. The beads were made from 'Dabba Marble' of which the main sources lie between 10-20 km west of Wadi Jilat. These 'marbles' are localised Maastrichtian-Palaeocene limestones, chalks and cherts which have undergone light metamorphosis and injection with green chromites and apatites, red, dark brown and black bitumens and iron oxides (Bender 1974; Jaser 1986). Similar materials may occur in isolated pockets west of the Dead Sea (Hatrurim Formation; Gross 1977) (Figure 1).

The Dabba Marble used for ornaments occurs in several colours. Green, brown/black and pale red variants are recrystallised and mineralised limestones; bright red variants derive from altered cherts. Other materials used were dark brown/black flint, black silicified sandstone, white limestone/chalk, white quartz/calcite, and white flint White Flint may refer to:
  • White Flint (Washington Metro), a metro station in Montgomery County, Maryland
  • White Flint Mall, a shopping mall in Montgomery County, Maryland
 (Figures 4-6). Only two long-distance imports (turquoise and malachite malachite (măl`əkīt), a mineral, the green basic carbonate of copper occurring in crystals of the monoclinic system or (more usually) in masses. It is translucent or opaque; the luster is silky, vitreous, adamantine, or dull. ) were found. The nearest malachite sources are Faynan (south Jordan) or Timna (south Israel) and the nearest source of turquoise is southern Sinai (Figure 1).

The workshops

Most contexts of manufacture were found inside buildings and consist of true activity areas and fills above floors (Table 2). Specifics of site formation can be found in the primary reports (e.g. Garrard et al. 1994b; Baird et al. 1992), but most of the sites represent relatively short-term occupations abandoned and buried fairly quickly. The sites and their contexts illustrate changes in bead-making from the PPNB to the ELN. The PPNB workshops were found at Jilat 7, Jilat 26, Jilat 32 and Azraq 31 (Table 2, Occupations 1-13). In general, PPNB bead production seems to have been modest in scale and associated with evidence for routine domestic activities (e.g. food processing Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food for consumption by humans or animals. The food processing industry utilises these processes. ).

At Jilat 7, bead workshops were found in a house cluster (Area A/C) and in an oval dwelling with a bedrock shelf, a bin, post-holes or bedrock mortars and two hearths (Area B) (Figure 7). The most common stone ornaments were of dark brown silicified sandstone, a non-local material that occurs only as finished beads, and only at Jilat 7 (Figure 4). Bone ornaments and shell beads (of either Mediterranean or Red Sea origin) were also found (Martin & Reese, in Garrard et al. 1994b and Baird et al. 1992). These buildings contained well-made, unbroken basalt vessels, and caches of robust grinding slabs and handstones.


At Jilat 26, two workshops were excavated amongst the 20 buildings revealed (Garrard et al. 1994b: Figure 3). Area C revealed a sunken, circular dwelling, with a hearth, a posthole/ mortar and work-tables inside. Area A revealed a rectangular structure partitioned into four niches. In plan (but not building technique), this structure resembles 'pier houses' in Levantine Corridor villages (Byrd & Banning 1988). Dabba Marble debris, worked bone and shells and ground stone artefacts were present but scarce. At Jilat 32, a small oval house was exposed with ashy ash·y  
adj. ash·i·er, ash·i·est
1. Of, relating to, or covered with ashes.

2. Having the color of ashes; pale.

 deposits inside. A few Dabba Marble debris fragments were found, along with a complete mortar and pestle A mortar and pestle is a tool used to crush, grind, and mix substances. The pestle is a heavy stick whose end is used for pounding and grinding, and the mortar is a bowl. The substance is ground between the pestle and the mortar. . At Azraq 31, Trench 1 revealed Late PPNB hearths in an outdoor area, with beads and debris found in situ. The debitage The term debitage refers to the totality of waste material produced during lithic reduction and the production of chipped stone tools. This assemblage includes, but is not limited to, different kinds of lithic flakes, shatter, and production errors and rejects.  shows that Dabba Marble was imported as raw material and worked on site. Only three bone beads and two marine shells (of Mediterranean origin) were recovered.


In the Early Late Neolithic sites, changes could be observed, especially at Azraq 31, Jilat 25, and Jilat 13 (Table 2, Occupations 14-21). Generally, ELN bead production seems to have been larger in scale and associated with evidence for more specialised, craft-related activities.

The ELN occupation at Azraq 31 consisted of large outdoor pits (Area B) and two oval buildings (Area C). Much more bead-making debris was recovered in the ELN phase, in comparison to the PPNB at this site. Debris and blanks indicate that Dabba Marble was imported as raw material. Of the shell beads, mother-of-pearl appears for the first time, as do shells native only to the Red Sea--evidence of wider exchange networks. Ground stone artefacts were scanty, but included a miniature mortar with ochre residue. At Jilat 25, a single oval building was exposed (Figure 8b), with postholes, stone-lined pits, and hearths. The most common finished beads were red Dabba Marble discs; there were also white chalk bracelets. Marine shells included species native only to the Red Sea. Ground stone items were small sandstone abraders and work-slabs with cut-marks and percussion marks.


Jilat 13 was contemporary with Jilat 25 and ELN Azraq 31 (see 14C dates in Table 2). Areas A-C at Jilat 13 revealed an oval structure, the largest Neolithic building found (Figure 8a). The interior contained partition walls, postholes, pavements and hearths. Finished body ornaments displayed the widest range of materials of all the sites, including two imported beads, one of malachite (from Faynan or Timna) and one of turquoise (from Sinai). More bone and shell beads were found here than at any other Neolithic site; the shells include mother-of-pearl and four species of Red Sea origin. Ground stone artefacts were mainly miniature mortars and pestles, limestone handstones, cut-marked slabs, small sandstone abraders, and pebbles with ochre residues. Limestone pillars carved into statues were also found, along with animal and phallic phallic /phal·lic/ (-ik) pertaining to or resembling a phallus.

1. Of, relating to, or resembling a phallus.

 figurines. Finally, a large limestone work-slab was found near a bin. Similar working surfaces have been found with bead-making debris in houses at PPNB Beidha (Kirkbride 1966:25).

Social identities and the expansion of stone bead-making in the Neolithic

What underlay the new demand for stone body ornaments in the Neolithic? One clue lies in the diversity of early stone beads. Of the few Natufian stone beads, most are circular discs or oval pendants, smaller than the predominant bone and shell ornaments. The PPNA and PPNB stone ornaments are larger and much more diverse. Beads are discoidal dis·coid   also dis·coi·dal
1. Having a flat, circular form; disk-shaped.

2. Related to or having a disk.

3. Botany Having disk flowers only. Used of a composite flower head.
, barrel-shaped, cylindrical, and spherical; pendants are square, rectangular, or triangular (e.g., Gopher 1997:170; Talbot 1983:789-90; Wheeler 1983:782-4). In the Jilat-Azraq workshops, (Early PPNB to ELN), there are eight basic forms (with variations), in eleven materials (eight local, three exotic) and four colours (green, red, dark brown/black, white) (Figures 3 and 9). They include relatively standardised circular disc beads (mostly of red Dabba Marble); variable barrel beads (mostly green Dabba Marble); large pendants in several shapes (mostly green Dabba Marble); and bracelets (of white chalk).

Used alone, bone and shell ornaments limit the visual impact conveyed by the wearer. By adding stone ornaments to the repertoire, variations can be much greater, in colour, size and shape. A greater diversity in individual beads also makes possible a greater diversity in bead combinations. Consequently, it becomes possible to define a greater number of 'signatures' or non-verbal messages conveying an individual's place in his or her social milieu. A greater number of statuses, roles and social personae (such as age, gender and group affiliations) could be defined for a given individual.

Ethnographies show that permissible dress often marks key stages and transitions in an individual's life. Examples include coming of age; membership in sodalities (e.g. hunting groups, cf. 'war paint'); chastity (cf. veiling); marriage (cf. wedding rings) (Turner 1969). Rules governing such customs can be quite rigid as a means of ensuring social control of the individual. Treatment of an individual's hair is often also used to convey the degree of social control (Hallpike 1969) and Australians use body painting for political purposes (Layton 1989). In fact, social control of the human body may be the mechanism par excellence of enculturation enculturation
the process by which a person adapts to and assimilates the culture in which he lives.
See also: Society

Noun 1. enculturation
, the imprinting of a culture on an individual (Bourdieu 1977:94; cf. Meskell 1996). Dress and body decoration can serve to construct social identities such as gender and ethnicity; they can also form an arena for individual expression (Eicher 1995; Jones 1996; Sorenson 1997, 2000; Strathern & Strathern 1971).

Early Neolithic villagers were increasingly sedentary, living in close year-round contact and depending on specific arable territories. This situation must have affected neighbouring (arid-zone) groups as well. In these circumstances, social controls were probably becoming more important, to define individuals, social boundaries, territories, group affiliations and shared values. The 'presentation of the self in everyday life' (Goffman 1956) seems to take on a new emphasis and a new degree of complexity in the Neolithic. The human body may also be used to symbolise cosmologies (Douglas 1996). By adding stone ornaments to bone and shell ornaments, it becomes possible to express a wider range of meanings.

There is other evidence that variations in dress conveyed important information about an individual's identity. Anthropomorphic Having the characteristics of a human being. For example, an anthropomorphic robot has a head, arms and legs.  art, very rare in Natufian sites, proliferates in the Neolithic. Figurines, statues, paintings, and plastered adult skulls all testify to a profound interest in the human body. Figurines and statues have decorations indicating clothing, ornaments, hair. Depictions of hunters carefully delineate variations in clothing (especially head-dress), and caches of special objects implying males and hunting activities indicate something similar (e.g. from Jericho, 'Ain Ghazal Ghaz´al

n. 1. A kind of Oriental lyric, and usually erotic, poetry, written in recurring rhymes.
, Dhuweila, Nahal Hemar, cf. Catalhoyuk: Bar-Yosef & Alon 1988; Betts 1998; McAdam 1997; Mellaart 1966; Tubb & Grissom 1995; Wright 2000).

Aesthetic choices, cognition and value

Despite the available diversity of the Neolithic stone beads, the Jilat-Azraq bead-makers had certain colour preferences. Green Dabba Marble overwhelmingly dominates the bead-making debitage at each site and accounts for most of the unfinished bead blanks (Figures 9-10). Green Dabba Marble was also used to make the largest, most conspicuous, and most diverse ornaments (barrel beads, pendants), which, when worn, would have made the strongest visual impact (Figures 5-6). Consequently, it appears that the green colour was emphasised. There seems to have been a particular, and widespread, interest in green-coloured ornaments across the Levant Levant (ləvănt`) [Ital.,=east], collective name for the countries of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean from Egypt to, and including, Turkey.  and beyond. Unspecified 'greenstone' and other green beads are widely reported and sometimes dominate bead assemblages from the PPNA onward (e.g. Garfinkel 1987:79; Gopher 1997:167; Talbot 1983:788; Wheeler 1983:781). Generally, body ornaments are a rich but under-developed source for investigating colour classifications and other aspects of cognition. Red, the second most common colour in the Jilat ornaments, perhaps formed a structural opposition to green (and perhaps similarly for dark brown/black versus white). It is tempting to infer certain meanings (e.g. green/fertility/vegetation/life vs. red/blood/animals/death) but we cannot substantiate them.


Thus, symbolic value (Appadurai 1986) probably played a role in Neolithic bead choices. A high cultural value placed on green beads may have affected the eventual development of copper metallurgy (A. Hauptmann, pers. comm.). Neolithic villagers in Wadi Faynan (a copper source) specialised in green beads made of local copper ores (Simmons & Najjar 1998). Bead-making continued as a 'sideline' of early copper-working villages in Faynan in the Early Bronze Age Bronze Age, period in the development of technology when metals were first used regularly in the manufacture of tools and weapons. Pure copper and bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, were used indiscriminately at first; this early period is sometimes called the , when settlements proliferated there (Adams & Genz 1995; Wright et al. 1998). By contrast, in Wadi Jilat the wave of Dabba Marble exploitation peaked in the ELN and declined thereafter. Jilat 27 (Early Bronze Age) produced only a tiny amount of (green) Dabba Marble debris. By then, mere stone beads were perhaps no longer enough and green-coloured minerals had to be of a very particular kind.

Household production, intensification and specialisation

To what degree can we speak of craft specialisation in early stone bead-making? Obviously, the large-scale specialisation characteristic of urban societies does not apply here, but prehistorians have often wondered whether there was specialisation amongst Neolithic groups. Costin (1991) suggests that archaeological patterns left by specialist craftsmen should show three characteristics: (1) artefacts are differentially distributed among production units (households, communities, regions); (2) there is a high density of craft production debris relative to some other generally used item; (3) there are high ratios of unfinished goods to finished goods. What patterns occur in the Jilat-Azraq sites?

In the PPNB sites the buildings occur in small clusters and the structures and assemblages imply that small domestic households were the social units of ornament production. Assuming that the samples are representative, variability between sites implies that in this period bead-making was an opportunistic activity emphasised by some groups (Jilat 7) but not others (Jilat 26, 32). Bead-making in PPNB Jilat-Azraq was not on a very large scale; the PPNB sites account for only 7.6% of all stone bead-making artefacts from the Neolithic sites. The overall densities of beads and related debris are also consistently low (Table 2). However, the PPNB sites account for 66.7% of all Neolithic ground stone artefacts (58.3% from Jilat 7 alone) and the densities of ground stone are high. Shaft straighteners and food processing tools (handstones, grinding slabs) overwhelmingly dominate the ground stone (Wright 1992). Thus, bead-making appears to be embedded in--a sideline of--routine domestic activities.

By contrast, the ELN bead-makers' buildings are isolated, not clustered, and one (Jilat 13) is unusually large. Finished ornaments are diverse; for the first time, the full range of forms shown in Figure 3 is seen. Bead-making was conducted on a much larger scale than in the PPNB. Of all stone beads and related artefacts recovered in the project, 92.4% came from ELN sites (88.1% from Jilat 25 and Jilat 13 alone), and the densities of bead-making artefacts are at their highest (Table 2). However, ground stone artefacts from ELN sites account for only 33.3% of all Neolithic ground stone. The ground stone artefacts are also very different, with very few (mainly fragmentary) food processing tools. Instead, sandstone abraders (not found in PPNB contexts), miniature tools, and worktables dominate, whilst statues and figurines also occur, all signalling a greater emphasis on bead-making and other crafts (Wright 1992). Thus, relative to the PPNB, the ELN sites indicate intensification in craft production, with an increased element of (site) specialisation.

The ratios of unfinished goods (debris and blanks) to finished beads are enormous, by both number and weight (Figures 9-10). Debris and unfinished bead blanks greatly emphasise green Dabba Marble, whilst finished ornaments occur in a much broader range of materials. In short, the beadmakers were making a much narrower range of bead materials than they were actually using (consuming) at these sites. From these data, we venture that the Jilat-Azraq beadmakers were specialising in green Dabba Marble, and producing surpluses (stockpiles) of the raw material, possibly for export in that form (see previous page).

How much time was necessary to produce these beads? We have not yet begun experiments to measure this, but an ethnoarchaeological study of agate bead-making in Khambat (India) is thought-provoking (Kenoyer et al. 1991:50-59). With traditional techniques, the time required for bead-making in Khambat was formidable, from initial production stages (3-4 months); hand sawing of one nodule nodule: see concretion.

In geology, a rounded mineral concretion that is distinct from, and may be separated from, the formation in which it occurs.
 (3-4 hours); handgrinding (4 hours to 4 days); drilling (2-10 hours per centimetre); and polishing with abrasives (15 days).

The Khambhat project was designed to compare archaeological patterns produced by both entrepreneurial households making beads on a small scale to supplement income, and elite families specialising in bead-making. Houses of small-scale entrepreneurs were characterised by low quantities of debris and unfinished beads and rapidly fluctuating bead styles, with little standardisation over time. By contrast, houses of elite bead merchants were characterised by stockpiling of raw materials and unfinished blanks (often recycled or sold) and long-term standardisation in the materials and types of ornaments produced. The ELN workshops, especially Jilat 13 and Jilat 25, display patterns closer to the second category.

Regional variation and exchange networks

Systematic sourcing studies do not yet exist for Levantine stone body ornaments, but we can make some preliminary observations, focusing on the Jilat sites (closest to the Dabba Marble source) and their relationships to other regions.

Of the thousands of stone beads and manufacturing debris recovered from the Jilat sites, fewer than 25 items are exotics. The source of the silicified sandstone items from PPNB Jilat 7 is unknown. Apart from one possible blank, we have no clear evidence for the manufacture of silicified sandstone beads at Jilat 7. The only other exotics are the two finished beads of malachite and turquoise from Jilat 13, which derive from Faynan/Timna and Sinai (Figure 1). In short, the exotics in the Jilat sites appear to have arrived on the sites as finished beads. On the other hand, there is evidence for export of Dabba Marble to sites far from Wadi Jilat (see below). It seems likely that the Jilat stone beadmakers were producing some Dabba Marble for export as raw material. In turn, they acquired a very few exotic finished beads, and perhaps other commodities (e.g., sheep and goat in the ELN; cf. Martin 1999). In the ELN, the exotic beads were acquired from wider exchange networks (turquoise, malachite, mother of pearl, Red Sea shells).

As the Jilat sites were seasonal (probably occupied in the wet season, autumn to spring), where were the complementary, dry-season sites? The candidates are Azraq Oasis and the Basalt Desert, to the east, and the Levantine Corridor, to the west. Dabba Marble from Wadi Jilat was certainly exported as raw material to points east (Azraq 31; Dhuweila). The closest stylistic parallels to the Jilat ornaments also come from these sites (Cooke & Reese, in Betts 1998:138-140). Thus the Jilat beads fall within a common eastern desert style of bead-making (and similarly for lithics; Baird 1993).

Ornaments from the Levantine Corridor villages differ sharply from this eastern desert style. Here, ornaments were made mainly of local materials, whilst the forms of finished ornaments seem to differ from site to site. 'Ain Ghazal has mostly chalk pendants, tubular and butterfly-shaped beads, and bone finger rings. Thick sandstone bracelets dominate at Basta and Ba'ja; agate beads at Beidha; painted wooden beads at Nahal Hemar (Rollefson et al. 1990; cf. Bar-Yosef & Alon 1988; Gebel et al. 1997; Kirkbride 1966; Nissen et al. 1987; Talbot 1983; Wheeler 1983).

However, small quantities of exotic stones also occur in the villages (e.g. Garfinkel 1987). These stones occur as raw nodules, debris, unfinished beads, and finished beads made into local Levantine Corridor styles. Thus, some of these exotics were clearly imported in the form of the raw material. For example, at 'Ain Ghazal, manufacturing debris of green Dabba Marble was found, along with other foreign materials (e.g. carnelian carnelian (kärnēl`yən) or cornelian (kôr–, kər–), variety of red chalcedony, used as a gem. ). Green Dabba Marble and carnelian were both made into butterfly-shaped beads, a local style with no parallels in Jilat (see Rollefson 1984:10; 1985:52; Rollefson and Simmons 1986:160; Rollefson et al. 1990:103-104). Similarly, Neolithic stone beads from Negev and Sinai display distinctive characteristics not seen in eastern Jordan (e.g. Mayer 1997; Goring-Morris & Gopher 1983:156). Elsewhere in western Asia, stone bead repertoires are also very different from region to region and site to site (Wright, Garrard & Critchley in preparation).

These regional specialisations and small-scale exchanges probably testify to the role of trade in forming alliances and creating 'social storage' or social capital stored for harder times (cf. Mayer 1997; O'Shea 1981). Early territorial food producers probably needed such strategies. Dependence on annual rainfall, which in the Levant varies enormously from year to year and place to place, meant that crop failures could occur unpredictably and might be disastrous without some sort of risk-buffering. For early food producers, one way to counteract the risks of dependence on specific territories would have been to form exchange relationships and strategic alliances with other villages and with nomadic See nomadic computing.  communities in neighbouring, arid regions such as Jilat-Azraq.


In western Asia, the beginnings of stone bead-making on a significant scale coincided with the appearance of plant domestication domestication

Process of hereditary reorganization of wild animals and plants into forms more accommodating to the interests of people. In its strictest sense, it refers to the initial stage of human mastery of wild animals and plants.
 and village life in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. By the ELN, evidence from eastern Jordan shows a correlation between greater specialisation in bead-making and wider trade networks on the one hand and the introduction of domestic sheep/goat on the other. Domestication of sheep and goat may have opened up wider regional trade networks in exotic items from remote, distant, and arid areas--well before domestication of pack animals (cf. Sherratt 1981). Early stone beadmaking can therefore be understood in terms of new social and economic needs created by sedentary life.
Table 1 Chronology of the southern Levant. Dates calibrated using
INTCAL 98. Figures are rounded off to the nearest 25 years.

Period                                    [sup.14]C BP     Cal BC

Upper Palaeolithic                        45000-20000
Epipalaeolithic (Early and Middle)        20000-12500    21750-12750
Natufian (=Late Epipalaeolithic)          12500-10250    12750-10050
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)            10250-9600     10050-9000
Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (EPPNB)      9600-9200      9000-8400
Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (MPPNB)     9200-8500      8400-7550
Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (LPPNB)       8500-8000      7550-6950
Early Late Neolithic (ELN) (= PPNC)        8000-7500      6950-6400
Late Neolithic (LN) (=Pottery Neolithic)   7500-6500      6400-5450
Chalcolithic                               6500-5500      5450-4350
Early Bronze Age                           5500-4000      4350-2500

Table 2 Neolithic sites in the Jilat-Azraq Basin, indicating numbers
(N) and densities (N/[m.sup.3]) of bead-making artefacts (beads, blanks
and debris) and ground stone tools from excavated contexts. Volumetric
data are approximations.

No.          Site       Area   Features   Phase

    1        Jilat 7    A/C    Str. 1-3   EPPNB
    2        Jilat 7    A/C    Str.4      MPPNB
    3        Jilat 7    T. 1   Outdoor    MPPNB
    4        Jilat 7    T. 2   Str. 6     MPPNB
    5        Jilat 7     B     Str. 5     MPPNB
    6        Jilat 7     B     Str. 5     M-LPPNB
    7        Jilat 26    E     Outdoor    MPPNB
    8        Jilat 26    B     Outdoor    MPPNB
    9        Jilat 26    C     Str. 1     MPPNB
   10        Jilat 26    A     Str. 2     MPPNB
   11        Jilat 32    A     Str. 1     MPPNB
   12        Azraq 31   T. 1   Outdoor    LPPNB
   13        Azraq 31    A     Outdoor    LPPNB
   14        Azraq 31    B     Outdoor?   ELN
   15        Azraq 31    C     Str. 1-2   ELN
   16        Jilat 25    A     Str. 1     ELN early
   17        Jilat 25    A     Str. 1     ELN mid
   18        Jilat 25    A     Str. 1     ELN late
   19        Jilat 13   A-C    Str. 1     ELN early
   20        Jilat 13   A-C    Str. 1     ELN mid
   21        Jilat 13   A-C    Str. 1     ELN late

                                       Stone Beads, Blanks, Debris

Occupation      C14 Dates         Volume                 Density
No.             (Uncal BP)       excavated     (N)    (N/[m.sup.3])

    1                              10.0         313         31.3
    2                              13.5          83          6.1
    3                               2.0          19          9.5
    4        8810 +/- 110           2.1           5          2.4
               BP (OxA-526)
             8520 +/- 110
               BP (OxA-527)
    5                               6.0         173         28.8
    6                               6.0          17          2.8
    7        8740 +/- 110           6.3          43          6.9
               BP (OxA-2969)
    8                               5.0           8          1.6
    9        8720 +/- 100           8.0           8          1.0
               BP (OxA-2407)
             8690 +/- 110
               BP (OxA-1802)
   10                              14.0          20          1.4
   11                               2.1          55         26.2
   12        8350 +/- 120           1.6           5          3.1
               BP (OxA-870)
   13                               3.6          48         13.3
   14                               2.3         323        143.6
   15                               4.9         130         26.5
   16        8020 +/- 80            2.6         578        222.3
               BP (OxA-2408)
   17                               2.6         861        331.2
   18                               2.6         146         56.2
   19        7920 +/- 100          14.5        4498        310.2
               BP (OxA-1800)
             7870 +/- 100
               BP (OxA-1801)
   20                               8.7        1405        161.5
   21        7900 +/- 80           17.4        1790        102.9
               BP (OxA-2411)
             7830 +/- 90
               BP (UB-3462)
             Total - PPNB                       797        (7.6)
             Total - ELN                       9731       (92.3)
             Total - Other                       19        (0.2)
             TOTAL - all sites               10,528        (100)

                Ground Stone

Occupation             Density
No.           (N)   (N/[m.sup.3])

    1         77         7.7
    2         80         5.9
    3          0         0.0
    4          0         0.0
    5         18         3.0
    6         19         3.2
    7          1         0.2
    8         10         2.0
    9          2         0.3
   10          2         0.1
   11          7         3.3
   12          4         2.5
   13          2         0.6
   14          6         2.7
   15         10         0.5
   16          8         3.1
   17         13         5.0
   18          4         1.5
   19         14         1.0
   20         18         2.1
   21         38         2.2
             222       (66.7)
             111       (33.3)
               0        (0.0)
             333        (100)

Key: T. = Trench; Str. = Structure. For phase abbreviations, see
Table 1.

Received: 2 April 2002; accepted: 1 October 2002


We are grateful to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the British Academy The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and the social sciences. It was established by Royal Charter in 1902, and is a fellowship of more than 800 scholars. The Academy is self-governing and independent. , the Council for British Research in the Levant The Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) was formed in 1998 with the amalgamation of the British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History and the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. , and the Wainwright Fund. For useful discussions we thank Douglas Baird, Brian Byrd, Pat Critchley Pat Critchley is a well known sportsman from County Laois, Ireland

Critchley has played at National League level in hurling, football and basketball

Pat Critchley is a member of Portlaoise GAA club, with whom he won 14 Laois senior county championships - seven each in
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Katherine Wright & Andrew Garrand, Institute of Archaeology The Institute of Archaeology is an academic department of University College London (UCL), in the United Kingdom. The Institute is located in a separate building at the north end of Gordon Square, Bloomsbury. , University College London “UCL” redirects here. For other uses, see UCL (disambiguation).
University College London, commonly known as UCL, is the oldest multi-faculty constituent college of the University of London, one of the two original founding colleges, and the first British
, 31-34 Gordon Square Gordon Square is in Bloomsbury, in the London Borough of Camden, London, England (postaldistrict WC1). It was developed by Thomas Cubitt in the 1820s, as one of a pair with Tavistock Square, which is a block away and has the same dimensions. , London WCI WCI Western Climate Initiative
WCI Wright Center of Innovation
WCI Whale Conservation Institute
WCI Waterloo Collegiate Institute
WCI Warren Correctional Institution (Warren, OH)
WCI Warrior Concepts International
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