Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-kbvt8 Total loading time: 0.309 Render date: 2021-10-18T21:40:36.300Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Investigations at Naḥal Roded 110: a Late Neolithic ritual site in the southern Negev

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2019

Michal Birkenfeld*
Affiliation:
Israel Antiquities Authority, Excavation, Surveys & Research Department, POB 586, Jerusalem 90014, Israel
Liora Kolska Horwitz
Affiliation:
National Nature History Collections, The Hebrew University, E. Safra-Givat Ram Campus, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel
Daniella E. Bar-Yosef Mayer
Affiliation:
Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, University of Tel Aviv, POB 39040, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
Jerry Bond
Affiliation:
Pontceiliog House, Aber Giar, Llanllwni SA40 9SQ, UK
Erika Guttmann-Bond
Affiliation:
Pontceiliog House, Aber Giar, Llanllwni SA40 9SQ, UK
Linda S. Cummings
Affiliation:
PaleoResearch Institute Inc., 2675 Youngfield Street, Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
Hadas Goldgeier
Affiliation:
Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus Campus, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel
Maria Krakovsky
Affiliation:
Israel Antiquities Authority, Excavation, Surveys & Research Department, POB 586, Jerusalem 90014, Israel
Filipe Natalio
Affiliation:
Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science, Weizmann Institute, POB 26, Rehovot 7610001, Israel
Keren Nebenhaus
Affiliation:
Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus Campus, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel
Frank H. Neumann
Affiliation:
Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Private Bag X3, WITS 2050 Johannesburg, South Africa
Naomi Porat
Affiliation:
Geochemistry and Environmental Geology Department, Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malchei Israel Street, Jerusalem 95501, Israel
Louis Scott
Affiliation:
Plant Sciences Department, University of the Free State, POB 339, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
Tal Simmons
Affiliation:
Department of Forensic Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University, 910 West Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23284, USA
Talia Yashuv
Affiliation:
Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus Campus, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel
Uzi Avner
Affiliation:
The Dead-Sea and Arava Science Center, Tamar Regional Council, Dead Sea Mobile Post 86910, Israel
*
*Author for correspondence (Email: michal.birkenfeld@mail.huji.ac.il)
Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Excavations at the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B ritual site of Naḥal Roded 110 in the Southern Negev, Israel, have revealed evidence—unique to this region—for on-site flint knapping and abundant raptor remains.

Type
Project Gallery
Copyright
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2019 

Introduction

In the southern Negev, approximately 370 mountain cult localities (called ‘Rodedian’ sites) are known (Figure 1). Most are attributed to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB, eighth to sixth millennia BC) and contain unique features and artefacts, such as low, stone-built installations and cells, standing stones, perforated stones and stone bowls (Figure 2; Avner et al. Reference Avner, Shem-Tov, Enmar, Ragolski, Shem-Tov and Barzilai2014). One such cult site, Naḥal Roded 110, situated around 6km to the north-west of the city of Eilat, was excavated to assess its chronology, material culture, organic remains and spatial layout, and to elucidate site function and palaeoclimate.

Figure 1. Left) distribution of ‘Rodedian’ sites in the southern Negev; right) location of Naḥal Roded 110 and adjacent sites.

Figure 2. Salient features of Rodedian sites: 1) perforated standing stone (fallen); 2) anthropomorphic image (found fallen); 3) ‘vulva-shaped’ stone (photographs by U. Avner).

The site covers an area of approximately 150m2 and lies at an elevation of 420m asl within a small, igneous rock embayment. First surveyed in 2004, flint and stone objects were found on the surface, and a collapsed structure and hearth identified (Figure 3; Avner et al. Reference Avner, Shem-Tov, Enmar, Ragolski, Shem-Tov and Barzilai2014).

Figure 3. Left) arrow shows site location within the embayment, facing north-west; right) aerial shot of the site before excavation, showing the collapsed structure (A), suspected hearth (B) and run-off channel that cuts it (C) (photographs by U. Avner).

Excavation

In December 2017, a 1m2 grid was laid out, covering all surveyed features. All surface finds were collected and plotted by square. Three test trenches were opened, traversing both the structure and hearth (Figure 4). Excavation revealed that the deposits are deeper than first assumed, occurring in pockets within the bedrock. The ash-like deposit associated with the hearth is around 5m in diameter (Figure 4) and contains large quantities of lithics, faunal remains and charcoal, as well as several built features—probably small hearths. The excavation ended at a depth of 0.2m without reaching bedrock or the bottom of the ash. Excavation of the collapsed structure was limited. It is also around 5 m in diameter and reaches at least 0.5m in depth (Figure 4). The original form is unclear; it may correspond to the round, desert habitations of the PPNB (e.g. Goring-Morris & Gopher Reference Goring-Morris and Gopher1983; Ronen et al. Reference Ronen, Milstein, Lamdan, Vogel, Mienis and Ilani2001), or represent a series of semi-circular walls, similar to ancient desert hunting blinds (e.g. Lönnqvist & Lönnqvist Reference Lönnqvist and Lönnqvist2011).

Figure 4. The site during excavation, showing the three test trenches (dashed); note the wide extent of the ashy deposit.

Dating

Two charcoal samples from the top and two samples from the base of the ash deposit gave average ages of 7000 cal BC and 7200 cal BC respectively, confirming the attribution of the site to the Late PPNB. The range of dates and numerous hearths imply that multiple burning events occurred. Samples for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating were also taken from the base of the ash and the structure, and are in the process of being analysed.

Finds

The excavated lithics comprised debitage and a few tools—mainly projectile points (Figure 5) of the Amuq type typical of the Late PPNB (Goring-Morris & Gopher Reference Goring-Morris and Gopher1983). The high frequency of core-trimming elements indicates that intensive knapping was conducted on site, although no flint sources occur on the igneous mountain. Abundant, well-preserved faunal remains were recovered in and next to the ashy deposit. All remains belong to raptors (superfamilies Accipitridae, Falconidae and possibly Strigidae), with the European honey buzzard predominating (Pernis apivorus) (Figure 6). This connects the site to the spring and autumn raptor migrations that still pass over Eilat (e.g. Leshem & Yom-Tov Reference Leshem and Yom-Tov1998). The symbolic association of raptors with death, fertility and rebirth is well established in Neolithic iconography and zooarchaeology (e.g. Peters et al. Reference Peters, von den Driesch, Pollath, Schmidt, Grupe and Peters2005; Marom et al. Reference Marom, Garfinkel and Bar-Oz2017). Preliminary results of pollen retrieved from sediment samples yielded typical Saharo-Arabian taxa (e.g. Tamarisk) with elements of Irano-Turanian steppe vegetation (e.g. Asteraceae).

Figure 5. Typical tools from Naḥal Roded 110, numbered left to right: 1–3) Amuq points; 4) an elongated borer (photograph by M. Birkenfeld).

Figure 6. Humeri of the European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) from Naḥal Roded 110 (photograph by L.K. Horwitz).

Conclusions

The excavation at Naḥal Roded 110 has yielded many surprises, including the depth and extent of ashy deposits, evidence for on-site flint knapping, preservation of organic remains and the exclusive representation of birds of prey. All are unique features for such a remote site. We should note that all raw materials—flint for tools, limestone for cultic objects, Red Sea shells and wood for kindling—had to be carried up steep and rugged terrain to the site from the wadi below. Naḥal Roded 110 either served as a seasonal hunting camp with the aim of killing raptors during their migration, with ritual activities associated with this endeavour taking place on site, or functioned as a predominantly ritual locality, with the raptors brought as offerings. Whichever is correct, it is clear that Naḥal Roded 110 contains physical and spiritual elements that are unique, even when compared to coeval desert sites. The discoveries emphasise the enormous potential of further investigations at this and other Neolithic mountain-top sites in the region.

Acknowledgements

Research was funded by the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation and the National Geographic Foundation. We thank the volunteers who joined us, Avi Gedalia of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and Rahamim Shemtov and Johan Fjellstrom for their logistical assistance.

References

Avner, U., Shem-Tov, M., Enmar, L., Ragolski, G., Shem-Tov, R. & Barzilai, O.. 2014. A survey of Neolithic cult sites in the Eilat Mountains. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society 44(10): 101106.Google Scholar
Goring-Morris, A.N. & Gopher, A.. 1983. Naḥal Issaron: a Neolithic settlement in the Southern Negev: preliminary report of the excavations in 1980. Israel Exploration Journal 33: 149–62.Google Scholar
Leshem, Y. & Yom-Tov, Y.. 1998. The magnitude and timing of migration by soaring raptors, pelicans and storks over Israel. Ibis 140: 4152. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1998.tb04539.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lönnqvist, M. & Lönnqvist, K. (ed.). 2011. Jebel Bishri in focus. Remote sensing, archaeological surveying, mapping and GIS studies of the Jebel Bishri in central Syria by the Finnish project SYGIS (British Archaeological Reports International series 2230). Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
Marom, N., Garfinkel, Y. & Bar-Oz, G.. 2017. Times in between: a zooarchaeological analysis of ritual in Neolithic Sha'ar Hagolan. Quaternary International 464(A): 216–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peters, J., von den Driesch, A., Pollath, N. & Schmidt, K.. 2005. Birds in the megalithic art of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, southeast Turkey, in Grupe, G. & Peters, J. (ed.) Documenta Archaebiologiae 3: 223–34. Rhaden: Marie Leidorf.Google Scholar
Ronen, A., Milstein, S., Lamdan, M., Vogel, J.C., Mienis, H.K. & Ilani, S.. 2001. Nahal Reuel, a MPPNB site in the Negev, Israel. Quartär 51–52: 115–56.Google Scholar
Figure 0

Figure 1. Left) distribution of ‘Rodedian’ sites in the southern Negev; right) location of Naḥal Roded 110 and adjacent sites.

Figure 1

Figure 2. Salient features of Rodedian sites: 1) perforated standing stone (fallen); 2) anthropomorphic image (found fallen); 3) ‘vulva-shaped’ stone (photographs by U. Avner).

Figure 2

Figure 3. Left) arrow shows site location within the embayment, facing north-west; right) aerial shot of the site before excavation, showing the collapsed structure (A), suspected hearth (B) and run-off channel that cuts it (C) (photographs by U. Avner).

Figure 3

Figure 4. The site during excavation, showing the three test trenches (dashed); note the wide extent of the ashy deposit.

Figure 4

Figure 5. Typical tools from Naḥal Roded 110, numbered left to right: 1–3) Amuq points; 4) an elongated borer (photograph by M. Birkenfeld).

Figure 5

Figure 6. Humeri of the European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) from Naḥal Roded 110 (photograph by L.K. Horwitz).

You have Access
1
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Investigations at Naḥal Roded 110: a Late Neolithic ritual site in the southern Negev
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Investigations at Naḥal Roded 110: a Late Neolithic ritual site in the southern Negev
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Investigations at Naḥal Roded 110: a Late Neolithic ritual site in the southern Negev
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *