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 (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 Neolithic
sites, some people were thrown on trash heaps and their bodies remain intact. Scholars have estimated that a third of adult burials were found in trash pits with their heads intact. They may have seen the new comers as a lower class.

`Ain Ghazal people buried some of their dead beneath the floors of their houses, others outside in the surrounding terrain. Of those buried inside, often the head was later retrieved and the skull buried in a separate shallow pit beneath the house floor. Also, many human remains have been found in what appear to be garbage pits where domestic waste was disposed, indicating that not every deceased was ceremoniously put to rest. Why only a small, selected portion of the inhabitants were properly buried and the majority simply disposed of remains unresolved. Burials seem to have taken place approximately every 15–20 years, indicating a rate of one burial per generation, though gender and age were not constant in this practice.


The site is located at the boundary between Amman's Tariq and Basman districts, next to, and named for, the Ayn Ghazal Interchange connecting Al-Shahid Street and Army Street ( Ayn Ghazal is the name of a minor village just north of the road, now within Tariq district).

The site was discovered in 1974 by developers who were building Army St, the road connecting Amman
and Zarqa .. Excavation began in 1982, however by this time, around 600 meters (1,970 ft) of road ran through the site. Despite the damage urban expansion brought, what remained of `Ain Ghazal provided a wealth of information and continued to do so until 1989. One of the more notable archaeological finds during these first excavations came to light in 1983. While examining a cross section of earth in a path carved out by a bulldozer, archaeologists came across the edge of a large pit 2.5 meters (8 ft) under the surface containing plaster statues.

Another set of excavations, under the direction of Gary O. Rollefson and Zeidan Kafafi took place in the early 1990s.

The site was included in the 2004 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund to call attention to the threat of encroaching urban development.



* ^ Graeme Barker; Candice Goucher (16 April 2015). The Cambridge World History: Volume 2, A World with Agriculture, 12,000 BCE–500 CE. Cambridge University Press. pp. 426–. ISBN 978-1-316-29778-0 . * ^ Simmons, Alan H.; et al. (2014). "'Ain Ghazal: A Major Neolithic
Settlement in Central Jordan". American Association for the Advancement of Science. * ^ Rollefson, G.; et al. (1992). "Early Neolithic
exploitation patterns in the Levant: cultural impact on the environment". Population and Environment. * ^ Rollefson, G. O.; et al. (1998). "Invoking the Spirit Prehistoric religion at Ain Ghazal". Archaeology Odyssey. * ^ A B C D Kleiner, Fred S.; Mamiya, Christin J. (2006). Gardner's Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective: Volume 1 (Twelfth ed.). Belmont, California : Wadsworth Publishing. pp. 11–2. ISBN 0-495-00479-0 . * ^ Goren, Yuval; et al. (2001). "The Technology of Skull Modelling in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic
B (PPNB): Regional Variability, the Relation of Technology and Iconography and their Archaeologic