History of Research: The Creation of Scientific Chaos
The term “Levant” is used here to describe the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and includes the southeast part of Turkey (the Amuq Plain), western Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Sinai Desert of Egypt. The Euphrates Valley is taken as the border between the Levant and Mesopotamia and is not discussed here. Chronologically we deal with three millennia, c. 6400 to c. 3600 bce. In Gordon Childe’s terminology this is the era between the revolutions: it postdates the “Agricultural Revolution” of the early Neolithic and predates the “Urban Revolution” of the Bronze Age. The rise of the world’s earliest stratified urban societies in the Near East is a fascinating topic that has attracted much attention. However, the background that led to these developments, the 6th and 5th millennia bce, remains unclear.
Kenyon, following the Jericho excavations, put forward the thesis that the southern Levant, a leading area during the early Neolithic (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and B periods), became marginal in the later Neolithic (Pottery Neolithic A and B), claiming that “the light of progress seems to flicker out” (1960: 67–8). This idea was accepted by scholars, such as Perrot (1968), Kirkbride (1971) and others (Garfinkel & Miller 2002: 1–3 and references therein). However, new discoveries at Sha‘ar Hagolan and Tel Tsaf, in the central Jordan Valley, have completely altered this picture.