Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (short PPNA, around 9000 BC) represents the early Neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. It succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic) as the domestication of plants and animals was in its beginnings and triggered by the Younger Dryas.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestinian Territories). During this time, pottery was yet unknown. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian).

10,200-9,200 BP (uncalibrated) in the climatic phase Dryas II (arid climate).

There is evidence for the use of wheat, barley and legumes from carbonized seeds, but whether these seeds were collected, planted or even brought into the settlements as part of animal dung used for fuel remains the subject of debate. Sickle-blades and grinding stones certainly indicate the use of cereals. Some scholars speak of an 'agriculture prédomestique'.


The settlements consist of round semi-subterranean houses with stone foundations and terrazzo-floors. The superstructures were constructed of unbaked mudbricks with plano-convex cross-sections. The hearths were small and covered with cobbles. Heated rocks were used in cooking, which led to an accumulation of fire-cracked rock in the buildings. Almost every settlement contains storage bins made either stones or mud-brick. The sites are much larger than in the preceding Natufian and contain traces of communal structures, like the famous tower of Jericho, possibly built against floods. There is no relation to the biblical wall of Jericho that "came tumblin down."

Around 8,000 BCE during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) the world's first town Jericho appeared in the Levant and was surrounded by a stone wall and contained a population of 2000-3000 people and a massive stone tower. There is much debate over the function of the wall, for there is no evidence of any serious warfare at this timeFact|date=May 2008. No battles were fought at Jericho. One possibility is the wall was built to protect the salt resources of Jericho. [ [ "Jericho"] , Encyclopedia Britannica] .


The lithic industry is based on blades struck from regular cores. Sickle-blades and arrowheads continue traditions from the late Natufian culture, transverse-blow axes and polished adzes appear for the first time.

Regional variants

With more sites becoming known, the archaeologists have defined a number of regional variants:
* 'Sultanien' in the Jordan River valley and southern Levant with the type site of Jerich. Other sites include Netiv HaGdud, El-Khiam, Hatoula and Nahal Oren.
* 'Mureybetian' in the Northern Levant. Defined by the finds from Mureybet IIIA, IIIB, typical: Helwan points, sickle-blades with base amenagée or short stem and terminal retouch. Other sites include Sheyk Hasan and Jerf el-Ahmar.
* 'Aswadien' in the Damascus Basin. Defined by finds from Tell Aswad IA. Typical: bipolar cores, big sickle blades, Aswad-points.
* sites in 'Upper Mesopotamia' include Çayönü and Göbekli Tepe.

ee also

*History of pottery in the Southern Levant
*Pre-Pottery Neolithic B succeeded this period.


Further reading

* O. Bar-Yosef, The PPNA in the Levant – an overview. Paléorient 15/1, 1989, 57-63.
* J. Cauvin, Naissance des divinités, Naissance de l’agriculture. La révolution des symboles au Néolithique (CNRS 1994). Translation (T. Watkins) The birth of the gods and the origins of agriculture (Cambridge 2000).

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