The Info List - 'Ain Ghazal

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AYN GHAZAL ('Ain Ghazal, ʿayn ġazāl عين غزال ) is a neolithic archaeological site located in metropolitan Amman
, Jordan
, about 2 km north-west of Amman
Civil Airport .


* 1 Background * 2 Location & physical dimensions * 3 Economy * 4 Genetics

* 5 Culture

* 5.1 Statues * 5.2 Burial practices

* 6 Excavation and conservation * 7 References * 8 External links


The settlement at 'Ain Ghazal
'Ain Ghazal
("Spring of the Gazelles") first appeared in the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (MPPNB ) and is split into two phases. Phase I starts circa 10,300 BP and ends c. 9,950 BP, while phase II ends c. 9,550 BP.

The 9th millennium MPPNB period in the Levant represented a major transformation in prehistoric lifeways from small bands of mobile hunter–gatherers to large settled farming and herding villages in the Mediterranean zone, the process having been initiated some 2–3 millennia earlier.

In its prime era circa 7000 BCE, the site extended over 10–15 hectares (25–37 ac) and was inhabited by ca. 3000 people (four to five times the population of contemporary Jericho
). After 6500 BC, however, the population dropped sharply to about one sixth within only a few generations, probably due to environmental degradation, the 8.2 kilo-year event (Köhler-Rollefson 1992).

LOCATION 81% of the figurines have been found to belong to the MPPNB while only 19% belonging to the LPPNB and PPNC. The vast majority of figurines are of cattle. A species that makes up only 8% of the overall number of identified specimens (NISP) count. The importance of hunted cattle to the domestic ritual sphere of ‘Ain Ghazal is telling. it was seemingly of importance for individual households to have members who participated both the hunting of cattle – likely a group activity – and the subsequent feasting on the remains.

`Ain Ghazal is renowned for a set of anthropomorphic statues found buried in pits in the vicinity of some special buildings that may have had ritual functions. These statues are half-size human figures modeled in white plaster around a core of bundled twigs. The figures have painted clothes, hair, and in some cases, ornamental tattoos or body paint. The eyes are created using cowrie shells with a bitumen pupil and dioptase highlighting. In all, 32 of those plaster figures were found in two caches, 15 of them full figures, 15 busts, and 2 fragmentary heads. Three of the busts were two-headed.


Considerable evidence for mortuary practices during the PPNB period have been described in recent years. Post-mortem skull removal, commonly restricted to the cranium, but on occasion including the mandible, and apparently following preliminary primary interments of the complete corpse. Such treatment has commonly been interpreted as representing rituals connected with veneration of the dead or some form of "ancestor worship".

There is evidence of class in the way the dead are treated. Some people are buried in the floors of their houses as they would be at other Neolithic sites. After the flesh had wasted away some of the skulls were disinterred and decorated. This was either a form of respect or so that they could impart their power to the house and the people in it. However, unlike other