The Yarmukian Culture in Israel

IV. The Flint Industry

The basic typology of the Yarmukian flint industry is relativelly well known. To date three assemblages have been published in detail:

1. Stekelis' old excavations at Sha`ar Hagolan (2299 items, tools only)- This assemblage includes material collected from the excavations (without sieving) as well as surface finds(58). The finds from both sources were treated in the report as one unit. The report concentrated mainly on the tool categories, and no clear information was given concerning the debitage and debris of the industry.

2. The new excavations at Sha`ar Hagolan (16071 items)- This assemblage was collected from an excavation area of 120 sq m, where all the sediment was sieved. It is the largest assemblage analysed thus far, and is presented in accordance with the different excavations units(59).

3. Munhata Layer 2b (2514 items)- A final report on the flint has been published, including a detailed typological study(60). It is worth noting that although the excavated area in Munhata was 2050 sq m the flint assemblage is much smallar than that of Sha`ar Hagolan, where only 120 sq m were unearthed.


Table 2: General Charactristics of the Yarmukian Flint Industry at Munhata and Sha`ar Hagolan.

FlintMunhata 2B

Gopher 1969:86

Sha'ar Hagolan

Garfinkel 1992a

Used items1074.36764.2
Burin spalls141.61441.4
Axe spalls10.110.1
Used Tools1070050674.9
ItemsUse Signs--17025.1
ExcludedFlint Pebbles--3136.5

* Including 1067 items discarded during the excavations.

** In Munhata PPNB items, in Sha`ar Hagolan Paleolithic items.

Table 3: Small Arrowheads in Munhata and Sha`ar Hagolan.

Arrowheads Munhata

(Gopher 1989)

Sha`ar Hagolan

(Garfinkel 1992a)

Haparsa point

Nizzanim point

Herzliya point














Table 4: The Percentage of the Tools According to Main Typological Groups.

Tool CategorySha`ar Hagolan Stekelis 1972:12Munhata 2b Gopher 1989Sha`ar Hagolan Garfinkel 1992a
Bifacial tools1737.543.7173.4
Retouched Blades1476.41110.3367.1
Retouched Flakes482.11615285.5
Chopping Tools140.643.7387.5

* including two items classifed as bifacial and tabular knives.

The basic data available from these three assemblages is presented in Tables 2-4. The flint knapping industry in Yarmukian sites usually used simple medium sized cores. The elegant "naviform" tradition of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B was discontinued into the Yarmukian Culture. The tool kit of the Yarmukians includes the typological categories present in pre-metal societies: arrowheads, sickleblades, bifacial tools, awls and borers, scrapers, burins, notches and denticulates, retouched blades, retouched flakes, truncations, and chopping tools. Table 4 presents quantative data on these categories in the assemblages of Sha`ar Hagolan and Munhata.

Two types are considered to be the most typical tools ("fossil directeur") of the Yarmukian flint industry:

1) Arrowheads: In Yarmukian sites, as in earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites, elongeted arrowheads (ca. 5-7 cm long) genearlly classifed as "Byblos" (see Fig. 6:1-2) and "Amuq" (see Fig. 6:3) types continue to be used. A new innovation of the period are three small types of arrowheads (ca. 2-3 cm long), commonly fashioned with pressure flaking(61):

a. Haparsa Point: an arrowhead with a tang, angular conjunction between the tang and the body and sometines two pointed barbs (see Fig. 6:4-5).

b. Nizzanim Point: an arrowhead with a tang and rounded conjuction between the tang and the body (see Fig. 6:6-7). This is the most popular type in the Munhata and Sha`ar Hagolan assemblages (see Table 3).

c. Herzliya Point: an elliptical leaf shaped arrowhead (see Fig. 6:8). In Sha`ar Hagolan 10 such small arrowheads were discovered, and in Munhata 36 (see Table 3). However, in Munhata out of the 36 items discovered at the site, only 2 (5.5%) are related to Layer 2B. All the other 94.5% of these arrowheads were related to other units or did not have a clear context(62).

2) Sickleblades: The typical sickleblades of the Yarmukian Culture have a course denticulation on the working edges, commonly fashioned with pressure flaking. At Sha`ar Hagolan 61 such items were found, sub-classifed as follows:

a. Course denticulation on one side, the other side being plain (54.1%, see Fig. 6:9).

b. Course denticulation on one side, the other side having regular or abrupt retouch (27.8%, see Fig. 6:10).

c. Course denticulation on both sides (18.0%, see Fig. 6:11).

d. In addition 5 broken undetermined course denticulation fragmets were also found.

At Munhata 192 such sickleblades (differently sub-classifed) were reported, but only 12 (6.2%) came from Layer 2b(63). All the other 93.8% items were related to other units or did not have a clear context. As such sicklebleads were not used in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, nor are they to be found in Wadi Rabah sites, it is very surprising that in Munhata only 6.2% of them were definitely related to the Yarmukian assemblage.

Our examination of the Munhata Layer 2b flint assemblage reveals the following discrepancy:

1. An area of 2050 sq m (almost 18 times larger than the area exposed in Sha`ar Hagolan) presents an assemblage of only 2514 flint items, while in Sha`ar Hagolan an area of 120 sq m yeilded 16071 flint items (about five times larger than the assemblage of Munhata). Even if we take into consideration that not all the sediment in Munhata was sieved it is still hard to explain these figures.

2. Only 5.5% of the small arrowheads discovered at Munhata were related to Layer 2b.

3. Only 6.2% of the course denticulated sickleblades discovered in Munhata were related to Layer 2b.

All these clearly indicate that most of the Yarmukian flint was not properly analysed at Munhata. According to the precentage of the small arrowheads and course denticulated sickleblades one can estimate that 90-95% of the original Layer 2b assemblage was excluded, and spread between other layers or was related to unclear contexts. This creates a very distorted picture. Since all the assemblage was published as one unit, without any information concerning the distribution of the flint in the various pits or other activities areas, it is impossible to correct these mistakes from the report, and a new analysis should be carried out on the Yarmukian assemblage of Munhata.

The typical flint industry of the Yarmukian is also found in sites not classifed as Yarmukian, but as belonging to other Pottery Neolithic entities known as "Jericho IX" or "Pottery Neolithic A Jericho", were the flint was designated "Yarmukian"(64), as well as sites in the Southern Coastal Plain(65). Unlike the pottery and the art objects which are restricted to Yarmukian sites, the flint has a much larger geographical distribution.


58) Stekelis, 1972.

59) Garfinkel, 1992a.

60) Gopher, 1989.

61) Bar-Yosef, 1981.

62) Gopher, 1989: 89.

63) Gopher, 1989: 96.

64) Crowfoot-Payne, 1983: 706-716.

65) Olami et al., 1977; Yeivin and Olami, 1979.