The Yarmukian Culture in Israel

XII. Discussion

The variety of new evidence accumulated in the last decade from both new excavations and the analysis of material from

previous excavations broadens our understanding of the Yarmukian Culture. It seems that the Yarmukians lived in village sites in which rounded and rectangular structures were bulit for dwellings.

Large public structures were also constructed in these sites as indicated by the corner of the massive building exposed in Sha`ar Hagolan. Around the structures a large number of pits were dug by the inhabitants. These pits are an important componant of the Yarmukian sites, and in the early days of the research gave a false impression that they were the only component. The settlement pattern of the Yarmukian was of open extensive villages, dissimilar to the dense aggregate of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Sites.

The Yarmukians were the first to produce pottery in this part of the Levant. Their pottery vessels were varied in shape and size and could serve different needs of the daily household functions. A highly styled decoration technique was used to decorate the Yarmukian vessels, which are clearly distinct from other contemporanious cultural units. In addition, flint, limestone and basalt items were extensivly used in household daily activities.

Unlike the 7th millenniun, in which the entire Levant was characterized by the same Pre-Pottery Neolithic B tradition, in the 6th millennium the Levant is characterized by regional cultures. In this period we also observe a decline in the amount of obsidian and other raw material transfer in the region. It appears to be a time of cultural segregation, where every units emphasized itself by distinct elements of its material culture. Within such an atmosphere the Yarmukian is characterized by the distinct style of "Sha`ar Hagolan Decoration" on pottery, and the elaborate art objects.

The Yarmukian figurines are one of the most impressive artistic achievements of the 6th millennium B.C. in the ancient Near East. The quality and quantity of these items in the sites of Sha`ar Hagolan and Munhata place the sites as one of the major artistic Neolithic centers of the Near East.