AL-LAHUN Jordan

  Early Bronze

 

In the Early Bronze Age (3200-2100 B.C.E.), a period where the first towns appeared in Mesopotamia, Syria and the whole Levant, Lehun seems to be permanently occupied for the first time. Important remains were found in sector C1 and B3. The excavations revealed an Early Bronze I necropolis as well as part of an Early Bronze II-III settlement. Separated from the settlement by the Wadi Lehun, a rich Early Bronze I A-B tomb (3200-3000 B.C.E.), with more than 130 nearly undamaged pottery vessels [Figure], is sufficient proof that a sedentarised population lived here, making their own pots for daily use, and believing in life after death. As in Bab edh Dhra’, near the Dead Sea, the necropolis is situated outside the city walls along the river bank. It was already affected by erosion in the past. The same problem occurred in a tomb in Jericho, where skeletons had practically disappeared due to the same natural phenomenon. Like in Jericho and Bab edh Dhra’, the bones were mixed with pottery. They belonged to four individuals, a two to four years old child and three women aged between 19 and 40. No complete skeleton was found. The handmade ceramics were homogeneous and locally produced. The typical shapes are: large jars with ledge handles, middle-sized jars, amphoriskos, jugs with high vertical handles (some with stamp seal impressions), cups and miniature “thumb bowls”.

 

During the seasons of 1998-2000 the Early Bronze II-III fortified town, partially covering a smaller Early Bronze I settlement, was excavated [Figure]. The size of the new town was rather impressive, covering an area of about 6 hectares, following the edge of the plateau. In the west the precinct wall (5 to 5,5 m wide) reached a length of approximately 270 metres and 140 metres in the north. It consisted of an inner and outer stone wall with a rubble fill in between. Only at the southern edge of the town there were no defensive structures, as this part of the city was naturally protected by the Wadi Mujib valley cliffs [Figure].  The outer southern walls of the houses seemed to have functioned as a sort of defensive system.

An entrance or gate was recognized in the north-western corner of the settlement. Although only a small part of sector C1 was excavated, it can be stated that the houses were constructed along the broad defensive wall. One street could be traced uptill now, following the slopes to the southwest. The houses were rectangular (length 5 to 7 m; width 2,5 m) with walls made of  irregular shaped local stones and floors of beaten earth. Most of these dwellings consisted of only one room; a few were divided into two or three chambers. It is not sure whether the upper part of the walls was constructed with mudbrick, as some remains were found, but they could belong to the upper layer of the precinct wall. It is remarkable that many domestic units are aligned perpendicular to the town’s two main water basins. Formed by two "dolines", those natural depressions, were transformed and consolidated as water reservoirs in the centre of the town, allowing inhabitants to preserve rain water for irrigation or for the personal needs of the farmers of Lehun. Many houses were provided with additional cisterns.  

Among the finds in the settlement were pottery sherds, stone and pottery loom weights, bone needles, beads, stone tools, animal bones and some domestic installations, such as basalt grinding stones, mortars [Figure] and tabuns [Figure]. Besides these proofs of an agrarian population, three large stone olive presses were found close to the houses, which might indicate that the olive industry was part of the local Early Bronze economy. We may assume that the site was deserted in the Early Bronze IV (2250-1900 B.C.E) and in the Middle Bronze (1900-1550 B.C.E) periods, as only a few pottery sherds have been collected.  

 

 

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