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Token Finds at Pre-Pottery Neolithic ’Ain Ghazal, Jordan: A Formal and Technological Analysis

A collection of 137 clay and stone tokens from the Neolithic site of ’Ain Ghazal in Jordan was studied in terms of formal and technological characteristics. The great majority of tokens are clay spheres and cones, but the assemblage also includes other shapes that are well known from Near Eastern token collections, as well as a small number of exceptional specimens. Differences in raw materials are also evident from casual observation, and these were studied further using a variety of techniques. A visual technological classification based on surface and fabric characteristics was supplemented by petrographic and XRD studies of smaller samples of artifacts and local clay and stone raw materials. Results show some correlations between shapes and technological processes and close technological similarities among tokens recovered as groups, suggesting single episode production, use and discard. Apparently soft chalk and harder limestones, both locally available raw materials, were shaped by carving or abrasion, while clays closely resembling samples collected at and around the site were minimally processed and exposed to low temperatures achievable in ordinary hearths.

Author(s):  Iceland, Harry
Format:  Article
Source:  ’Ain Ghazal Excavation Reports: Symbols at ’Ain Ghazal, Volume 1