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Title: The origins of nomadic pastoralism in the Southern Levant : stable isotope, chipped stone and architectural analysis of archaeological evidence
Author: Miller, Holly
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 721X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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Herded animals were introduced to the steppic region of Eastern Jordan, where they are found at Wadi Jilat sites 13 and 25, late in the seventh millennium cal BC, coinciding with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C of the Mediterranean region of the Southern Levant, and the Early Late Neolithic of the more arid areas. This introduction of sheep and goats occurs sometime after the initial evidence for domestic caprines at 'Ain Ghazal, a Mediterranean region village site that borders the steppe, where they are known from 6000-6500 cal BC, during the Pre- Pottery Neolithic B. The debate over the mechanisms for the introduction of these animals to the arid areas, bringing about the origins of nomadic pastoralism, forms the basis for this study. To achieve a greater understanding of the social structures and identities of the groups herding animals in the steppe, it is necessary to identify whether it was indigenous steppic communities or village-based pastoralists that were exploiting the region. This research compiles three bodies of evidence, representing different aspects of the pastoralist lifeway, to answer this question; evidence for herding movements, chipped stone production and short- occupation structures were analysed in order to look at developments in the steppe that occurred alongside the introduction of animals at WJ13 and WJ25. Indications of herding movements from these sites, along with the Mediterranean zone comparative, 'Ain Ghazal, were revealed through carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotopic analysis of caprine bones. This was used to pinpoint the foraging range of the herded animals, suggesting the regions in which they, and accompanying herders, spent lengths of time. It was determined that differences in the isotopic ratios of animals from WJ13 and WJ25 signify that different herding strategies were used to bring animals to the two sites; at WJ25, this included the movement of animals in the Mediterranean regions of the Southern Levant, while at WJ13, animal forage range was restricted to the steppe. This led to the rejection of the theory that all herding was village based on the grounds of the WJ13 evidence. Chipped stone assemblages from two floor areas of the case study sites were analysed to look at the production and organisational strategies involved. Technical skills are often learned behaviours, therefore expressions of traits common to the Wadi Jilat, the Azraq Basin or the wider Southern Levantine records found in the WJ13 and WJ25 production evidence were assessed. This was used to further indicate that WJ25 has closer links to communities of the Mediterranean region than WJ13 which shows continuities to steppic traditions. The third aspect of analysis draws on the human experience of the built environments of WJ13 and WJ25, in comparison to earlier PPNB Wadi Jilat sites 7 and 26, and contemporary Mediterranean comparative Basta. This methodology was used to show that the occupancy and organisation of buildings in the ELN was different to preceding strategies in the same region, and those employed at the large village sites. It is suggested that this reconfiguration is part of the development of the nomadic pastoral lifeway and that understanding these regional changes is crucial for our understanding of the archaeology of the wider Southern Levantine Neolithic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available