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Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

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Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Fertile crescent Neolithic B circa 7500 BC.jpg
Area of the fertile crescent, c. 7500 BCE, with main Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites.. The area of Mesopotamia proper was not yet settled by humans.
Geographical rangeFertile Crescent
PeriodPre-Pottery Neolithic
Datesc. 10,800–8,500 BP
c. 8,800–6,500 BCE[1]
Type siteJericho, Byblos
Preceded byPre-Pottery Neolithic A
Followed byPottery Neolithic, Halaf culture, Hassuna culture, Neolithic Greece, Khirokitia, Faiyum A culture

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, a Neolithic culture centered in upper Mesopotamia, dating to c. 10,800 – c. 8,500 years ago, that is, 8,800–6,500 BCE.[1] It was typed by Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the West Bank. Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Mesolithic Natufian culture. However, it shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.

Lifestyle[edit]

Cultural tendencies of this period differ from that of the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet. In addition the flint tool kit of the period is new and quite disparate from that of the earlier period. One of its major elements is the naviform core. This is the first period in which architectural styles of the southern Levant became primarily rectilinear; earlier typical dwellings were circular, elliptical and occasionally even octagonal. Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is evidenced by a thick layer of white clay plaster floors highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone.

It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery.[2] The earliest proto-pottery was White Ware vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing, for several centuries around 7000 BCE at sites such as Tell Neba'a Faour (Beqaa Valley).[3] Sites from this period found in the Levant utilizing rectangular floor plans and plastered floor techniques were found at Ain Ghazal, Yiftahel (western Galilee), and Abu Hureyra (Upper Euphrates).[4] The period is dated to between c. 10,700 and c. 8,000 BP or 7000–6000 BCE.

Plastered human skulls were reconstructed human skulls that were made in the ancient Levant between 9000 and 6000 BC in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period. They represent some of the oldest forms of art in the Middle East and demonstrate that the prehistoric population took great care in burying their ancestors below their homes. The skulls denote some of the earliest sculptural examples of portraiture in the history of art.[5]

Society[edit]

Map of the modern-day eastern Mediterranean showing important sites that were occupied in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (clickable map)
Reconstitution of housing in Aşıklı Höyük, modern Turkey.

Danielle Stordeur's recent work at Tell Aswad, a large agricultural village between Mount Hermon and Damascus could not validate Henri de Contenson's earlier suggestion of a PPNA Aswadian culture. Instead, they found evidence of a fully established PPNB culture at 8700 BC at Aswad, pushing back the period's generally accepted start date by 1,200 years. Similar sites to Tell Aswad in the Damascus Basin of the same age were found at Tell Ramad and Tell Ghoraifé. How a PPNB culture could spring up in this location, practicing domesticated farming from 8700 BC has been the subject of speculation. Whether it created its own culture or imported traditions from the North East or Southern Levant has been considered an important question for a site that poses a problem for the scientific community.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Extent[edit]

Work at the site of 'Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period, which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP. Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in Southern Palestine, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.[14]

The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of the Ghassulian culture.

Artifacts[edit]

Around 8000 BCE, before the invention of pottery, several early settlements became experts in crafting beautiful and highly sophisticated containers from stone, using materials such as alabaster or granite, and employing sand to shape and polish. Artisans used the veins in the material to maximum visual effect. Such object have been found in abundance on the upper Euphrates river, in what is today eastern Syria, especially at the site of Bouqras.[15] These form the early stages of the develoment of the Art of Mesopotamia.

Genetics[edit]

Female statuette, 8th millenium BCE, Syria.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B fossils that were analysed for ancient DNA were found to carry the Y-DNA (paternal) haplogroups E1b1b (2/7; ~29%), CT (2/7; ~29%), E(xE2,E1a,E1b1a1a1c2c3b1,E1b1b1b1a1,E1b1b1b2b) (1/7; ~14%), T(xT1a1,T1a2a) (1/7; ~14%), and H2 (1/7; ~14%). The CT clade was also observed in a Pre-Pottery Neolithic C specimen (1/1; 100%).[16] Maternally, the rare basal haplogroup N* has been found among skeletal remains belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B,[17] as have the mtDNA clades L3[18] and K.[19]

Yamourkian figurines, Yamourkian culture (5500–5000 BCE), Pre-Pottery Neolithic B.

DNA analysis has also confirmed ancestral ties between the Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture bearers and the makers of the Epipaleolithic Iberomaurusian culture of North Africa,[20] the Mesolithic Natufian culture of the Levant, the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic culture of East Africa,[21] the Early Neolithic Cardium culture of Morocco,[22] and the Ancient Egyptian culture of the Nile Valley,[23] with fossils associated with these early cultures all sharing a common genomic component.[22]

Diffusion[edit]

Carbon 14 datation[edit]

Map of the spread of Neolithic farming cultures from the Near-East to Europe, with dates in year BCE.

The spread of the Neolithic in Europe was first studied quantitatively in the 1970s, when a sufficient number of 14C age determinations for early Neolithic sites had become available.[24] Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza discovered a linear relationship between the age of an Early Neolithic site and its distance from the conventional source in the Near East (Jericho), thus demonstrating that, on average, the Neolithic spread at a constant speed of about 1 km/yr.[24] More recent studies confirm these results and yield the speed of 0.6–1.3 km/yr at 95% confidence level.[24]

Analysis of mitochondrial DNA[edit]

Since the original human expansions out of Africa 200,000 years ago, different prehistoric and historic migration events have taken place in Europe.[25] Considering that the movement of the people implies a consequent movement of their genes, it is possible to estimate the impact of these migrations through the genetic analysis of human populations.[25] Agricultural and husbandry practices originated 10,000 years ago in a region of the Near East known as the Fertile Crescent.[25] According to the archaeological record this phenomenon, known as “Neolithic”, rapidly expanded from these territories into Europe.[25] However, whether this diffusion was accompanied or not by human migrations is greatly debated.[25] Mitochondrial DNA – a type of maternally inherited DNA located in the cell cytoplasm- was recovered from the remains of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) farmers in the Near East and then compared to available data from other Neolithic populations in Europe and also to modern populations from South Eastern Europe and the Near East.[25] The obtained results show that substantial human migrations were involved in the Neolithic spread and suggest that the first Neolithic farmers entered Europe following a maritime route through Cyprus and the Aegean Islands.[25]

Relative chronology[edit]

See also[edit]

The Neolithic
Mesolithic
Fertile Crescent
Heavy Neolithic
Shepherd Neolithic
Trihedral Neolithic
Pre-Pottery (A, B)
Qaraoun culture
Tahunian culture
Yarmukian Culture
Halaf culture
Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period
Ubaid culture
Nile valley
Faiyum A culture
Tasian culture
Merimde culture
El Omari culture
Maadi culture
Badari culture
Amratian culture
Europe
Arzachena culture
Boian culture
Butmir culture
Cardium pottery culture
Cernavodă culture
Coțofeni culture
Cucuteni-Trypillian culture
Dudeşti culture
Gorneşti culture
Gumelniţa–Karanovo culture
Hamangia culture
Khirokitia
Linear Pottery culture
Malta Temples
Ozieri culture
Petreşti culture
San Ciriaco culture
Shulaveri-Shomu culture
Sesklo culture
Tisza culture
Tiszapolgár culture
Usatovo culture
Varna culture
Vinča culture
Vučedol culture
Neolithic Transylvania
Neolithic Southeastern Europe
China
Peiligang culture
Pengtoushan culture
Beixin culture
Cishan culture
Dadiwan culture
Houli culture
Xinglongwa culture
Xinle culture
Zhaobaogou culture
Hemudu culture
Daxi culture
Majiabang culture
Yangshao culture
Hongshan culture
Dawenkou culture
Songze culture
Liangzhu culture
Majiayao culture
Qujialing culture
Longshan culture
Baodun culture
Shijiahe culture
Yueshi culture
Tibet
South Asia
Lahuradewa
Mehrgarh
Rakhigarhi
Kalibangan
Chopani Mando
Jhukar
Daimabad
Chirand
Koldihwa
Burzahom
Mundigak
Brahmagiri
Philippine Jade culture
Capsian culture
Savanna Pastoral Neolithic

farming, animal husbandry
pottery, metallurgy, wheel
circular ditches, henges, megaliths
Neolithic religion

Chalcolithic

References[edit]

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