Fieldwork in 2016

The 2016 fieldwork season of our project concerned the study area of Jibal Al- Khashabiyeh (Study area 5) in Eastern Jafr region (Zone 2). This sector underwent previous exploration and study during 2013 and in 2015 in the framework of our project. In view of the very important and encouraging results obtained in this area, investigations needed to be resumed in order to complete our knowledge and analysis. Previous work undertaken in this area during the 2013 season proved to be particularly fruitful and interesting. Following remote sensing observation using open access high resolution satellite imagery (Google Earth, Bing Maps), we were able to identify and document the first occurrences of “desert kites” structures ever recognized in the Southeastern badia of Jordan. The work focused as well in a second phase of 2015 season on the study of the flint knapping workshops located in the vicinity of the kites. These are characterized by the intensity of the knapping but also the type of lithic industry produced. The flint production debris literally cover on these sites the surface of the ground, on surfaces that reach 20 to 25 m radius. The débitage represented is essentially a blade production, representing more than 80% of the assemblages. The numerous nuclei testify for the production directly on-site. One specificity of these assemblages is to include some proportions of bifacial tools, obviously all worked in a tabular vein flint. The typology of these tools brings together a great variety of shapes. Amongst the more characteristic are the bifacial knives, retouched on almost the entire surface of their both faces and having a leaf pointed shape. These tools are of a very fine confection, and sometimes reach 15 to 20 cm in length, for only 1 to &, 5 cm thickness. Finally, several examples of bifacial elongated points, some of which are shouldered points, have been identified.

Moreover, we undertook a test sounding excavation (4 x 2 m) on another flint knapping workshop site (site JKSH F19). This sounding was intended to test the stratigraphic potential of these sites for further study. The preliminary excavation allowed to confirm the good state of preservation, as structural and architectural remains of several cell structures delimited by curvilinear walls, with domestic remains of hearths and fireplaces were identified, in association with the flint industry debitage. These results shed a new light on the remains: it became obvious that the site was representing a dwelling campsite of a still unknown function and type (long term vs. short term occupation?) that was clearly associated to the hunting kites. As a working hypothesis we suggested that the site constitutes a hunting outpost for the human groups using the kites. They would therefore constitute small temporary campsites, in which flint knapping activity will have been undertaken. Excavations carried out during the 2016 provided clear evidence supporting this assumption

The exceptionally good state of preservation of the site, which provided considerable amounts of faunal and archaeobotanical remains allowed to consider a thorough investigation on the site. Resuming the work on the site was therefore necessary, and required extensive, large scale excavation, allowing to reveal the full architectural organization of this dwelling campsite. Such an excavation was to open the way to further archaeozoological and archaeobotanical studies and analysis, revealing the subsistence strategies, economy, and paeloenvironmental context of this PPNB occupation. The study of the amazing material culture of lithics that will be subsequently made possible will shed a clearer light on the chrono-cultural background of this human occupation.