The Yarmukian Culture in Israel

V. Stone Tools

The stone tool industry was reported by Stekelis in his final Sha`ar Hagolan publication. A large number of deep limestone bowls were presented(66). The material from Munhata is now under prepration, so the data has not yet been published(67). Therefore we will concentrate here on the assemblage from our recent excavations at Sha`ar Hagolan.

In the new excavations, from an area of 120 sq m 63 items were collected. They were clasified into different typological categories which can be agglomerate into four functional groups:

1. Food-Processing tools: This is the dominant group of stone-tools (47.7%), including the following categories: grinding slabes (3.2%), basalt mortars (4.8%), grinding stones (23.8%), pestels (3.2%), and limestone bowls (12.7%). The bowls are usually rounded in shape, but sometimes they are oval or rectangular (see Fig. 7:1 3)(68). Sometimes a bowl was decorated with a herring-bone incision (see Fig. 7:5) imitating the decoration on clay bowls(69).

2. Weights: This is the second largest group in the assemblage (25.5%). The stone weights were classifed into large weights (22.3%), and discs (3.2%). The discs are rather small items in both diameter and thickness. All the other varieties of shapes were not further classifed but agglomerated into one general category. The stone weights, together with the bi-conical clay whorls, testify to the extensive use of weights in Yarmukian household activities. As they are considerablely varied in size and weight the weights were probably used for a variety of purposes. The increasing importance of weights is a new development since they were not common in Pre Pottery Neolithic sites.

3. Working Tools: This group constitutes 17.4% of the general stone tools assemblage, and it includes hammerstones (4.8%), anvils (6.3), and sharpeners (6.3%). Stekelis understood some of the sharpeners as cultic items representing female sex organs(70), but this interpretation is not convincing.

4. Varia: This group includes all the items found unsuitable for classification under one of the categories mentioned above (9.5%). Of special interest, although collected from the site surface and not included in the statistic, is a stone spoon (see Fig. 7:4). Such items were also made of clay (pottery vessels category A3).

Stone tools were an important component of the Yarmukian household utensils, as they appear in relatively large numbers. Although pottery was introduced at this stage, stone bowls continued to constitute an important component of the inventory


66) Stekelis, 1972.

67) Gopher and Orrells, in preparation.

68) Stekelis, 1972: Pl. 39:1-2, 7-8.

69) Stekelis, 1972: Pl. 40:1.

70) Stekelis, 1972: 33, Pl.57.