Investigating Pottery Neolithic socio-economic “regression” in the Southern Levant: Characterising obsidian consumption at Sha'ar Hagolan (N. Israel)

Tristan Carter*, Zachary Batist, Kathryn Campeau, Yosef Garfinkel, Katharina Streit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper details the characterisation of 34 obsidian artefacts from Sha'ar Hagolan in the Jordan Valley, a major Pottery Neolithic Site of the southern Levantine Yarmukian culture (6400–6000 cal BCE). Employing an integrated approach that melds sourcing data from EDXRF spectroscopy with the artefacts’ techno-typological characteristics, we contrast Sha'ar Hagolan's lithic traditions with those of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic southern Levantine sites in the context of alleged socio-economic disruptions in the Pottery Neolithic. The results indicate that community's obsidian consumption habits largely followed deep-time regional traditions (with only the slightest decrease in relative quantities), i.e. the use of Cappadocian raw materials (Göllü Dağ and Nenezi Dağ) to make pressure blades, and occasional projectiles, with only a small proportion of eastern Anatolian products (Nemrut Dağ). While the Sha'ar Hagolan material seems to embody continuity of southern Levantine cultural tradition, other broadly contemporary assemblages attest to the initiation of new procurement networks, and novel modes of consumption that reflect the increasing degree of cultural heterogeneity of the period. Finally, the distribution of obsidian across the site does not support the idea that social distinction at Sha'ar Hagolan was part-based on the preferential access to these exotic resources.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Israeli Antiquities Authority provided the export permit for the artefacts to travel to Canada (all since returned), while the study was funded by Carter's Standard Research Grant of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ( 41020102034 ): From Neolithisation to state formation: Reconstructing interaction networks & the dynamics of socio-economic change through obsidian sourcing in the Aegean & Anatolia 10th-2nd millennia BCE. The MAX Lab was established by a Canada Foundation for Innovation Leader's Opportunity Fund/Ontario Research Fund (awarded to Carter). Thanks also to Heeli Schechter, and the Hagoshrim team for their help.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Göllü Dağ
  • Nemrut Dağ
  • Nenezi Dağ
  • Obsidian
  • Pottery Neolithic
  • Social network analyses
  • Socio-economic regression
  • Southern Levant
  • Yarmukian


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