The organization of basanite bifacial production at Giv’at Kipod Quarry, Israel: Towards an ‘Alyawara Day’ model of extraction

  • Ron Shimelmitz University of Haifa
  • Danny Rosenberg University of Haifa
Keywords: ground stone tools, bifacials, basanite, Neolithic, quarry, Giv‛at Kipod, Southern Levant


Hunter gatherers as well as farmers used a variety of lithic raw materials to shape their world, in which some were perceived as having symbolic or mythical content. While the anthropological literature demonstrates that the extraction of raw materials of special significance was often performed differently from that of other more 'ordinary' raw materials, identifying this in the archaeological record is difficult. In this paper we wish to shed new light on this topic using the Late Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic basanite bifacial tool production site of Giv‛at Kipod, Israel. In the southern Levant basalt axes and adzes have long been understood to embody greater symbolic content than the flint axes and adzes that dominate the Neolithic and Chalcolithic bifacial assemblages. By comparing the results from our excavations at the site of Giv‛at Kipod to other production and extraction sites we exhibit how the organization of production was different than that related to the more common flint extraction in the region. While at most production and extractions sites the manufacture of various types of items is documented and the presence of tools, especially ad hoc tools, indicates that a variety of activities were performed at the locale of extraction, in the case of Giv‛at Kipod the production was focused solely on the manufacture of bifacials with a marked lack of evidence of other significant activities. We attempt to provide guidelines to characterize different exploitation patterns between raw materials of varied social significance using these differences.

Author Biographies

Ron Shimelmitz, University of Haifa

Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa
199 Abba Khousy Ave. Mount Carmel, Haifa, 3498898

The David Yellin Academic College of Education
7 Maagal Beit Hamidrash St., Jerusalem 91035

Danny Rosenberg, University of Haifa

Laboratory for Ground Stone Tools Research
Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa
199 Abba Khousy Ave. Mount Carmel, Haifa, 3498898


Andrefsky, W. 2005, Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 321 p.
Bar Yosef, O. 1991, Raw material exploitation in the Levantine Epi-Paleolithic. Raw Material Economies among Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers (Monte-White, A., & Holen, S., Eds.), Publications in Anthropology, Lawrence, p. 235-250.‏
Bar-Yosef, O. 1994, The Lower Paleolithic of the Near East. Journal of World Prehistory, 8(3): 211-265. doi:10.1007/bf02221050
Bar-Yosef, O., & Goren-Inbar, N. 1993, The Lithic Assemblages of ’Ubeidiya - A Lower Palaeolithic Site in the Jordan Valley. Qedem Vol. 34, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 266 p.
Barkai, R. 2005, Flint and Stone Axes as Cultural Markers: Socio-Economic Changes as Reflected in Holocene Flint Tool Industries of the Southern Levant. Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment Vol. 11, Ex Oriente, Berlin, 410 p.
Barkai. R. 2011, The evolution of Neolithic and Chalcolithic woodworking tools and the intensification of human production. Axes, adzes and chisels from the Southern Levant. In: Stone Axe Studies III, (Davis, V., & Edmonds, M., Eds.), Oxbow, Oxford: p. 39-54.
Barkai, R., & Gopher, A. 2009, Changing the face of the earth: Human behavior at Sede Ilan, an extensive Lower-Middle Palaeolithic quarry site in Israel. In: Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, (Adams, B., & Blades, B.S., Eds.), Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester: p. 174-185. doi:10.1002/9781444311976.ch12
Barkai, R., Gopher, A., & La Porta, P.C. 2006, Middle Pleistocene landscape of extraction: Quarry and workshop complexes in Northern Israel. In: Axe Age: Acheulian Toolmaking - from Quarry to Discard, (Goren-Inbar, N., & Sharon, G., Eds,), Equinox Publishers, London: p. 7-44.
Barzilai, O. 2011, Social Complexity in the Southern Levantine PPNB as Reflected through Lithic Studies. BAR International Series Vol. 2180, Archaeopress, Oxford, 194 p.
Binford, L.R. 1979, Organization and formation processes: Looking at curated technologies. Journal of Anthropological Research, 35: 255-273. doi:10.1086/jar.35.3.3629902
Binford, L.R., & O'Connell, J.F. 1984, An Alyawara day: The stone quarry. Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(3): 406-432. doi:10.1086/jar.40.3.3629763
Bradley, R., & Edmonds, M. 1993, Interpreting the Axe Trade. Production and Exchange in Neolithic Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 252 p.
Brantingham, P.J. 2003, A neutral model of stone raw material procurement. American Antiquity, 68(3): 487-509. doi:10.2307/3557105
Brumfiel, E.M., & Earle, T.E. 1987, An introduction. In: Specialization, Exchange, and Complex Societies, (Brumfiel, E.M., & Earle, T.E., Eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: p. 2-9.
Brumm, A. 2010, “The falling sky”: Symbolic and cosmological associations of the Mt William Greenstone axe quarry, Central Victoria, Australia. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 20(2): 179-196. doi:10.1017/s0959774310000223
Burton, J. 1984, Quarrying in a tribal society. World Archaeology, 16(2): 234-47. doi:10.1080/00438243.1984.9979930
Campbell-Smith, W. 1965, The distribution of jade axes in Europe with a supplement to the catalogue of those from the British Isles. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 31: 25-33. doi:10.1017/s0079497x00014699
Cauvin, M.-C. 1998, L'obsidienne au Proche et Moyen Orient. In: L’Obsidienne au Proche et Moyen Orient, (Cauvin, M.-C., Gourgaud, A., Gratuze, B., Arnaud, N., Poupeau, G., Poidevin, J.-L., & Chataigner, C., Eds.), BAR International Series Vol. 738, Archaeopress, Oxford: p. 7-11. (in French) (“Obsidian in Middle East”)
Claris, P., & Quartermaine, J. 1989, The Neolithic quarries and axe factory sites of Great Langdale and Scafell Pike: A new field survey. Proceeding of the Prehistoric Society, 55: 1-25. doi:10.1017/s0079497x00005326
Clark, J., & Parry, W. 1990, Craft specialization and cultural complexity. Research in Economic Anthropology, 12: 289-346.
Cooney, G. 1998, Breaking stones, making places: The social landscape of axe production sites. In: Prehistoric Ritual and Religion, (Gibson, A., & Simpson, D., Eds.), Sutton Publishing, Stroud: p. 108-118.
Costin, C. 1991, Craft Specialization: Issues in defining, documenting, and explaining the organization of production. Archaeological Method and Theory, 3: 1-57.
Costin, C.L. 2005, Craft production. In: Handbook of Archaeological Methods, (Herbert, D.G., Ed.), Maschner. AltaMira, Walnut Creek: p. 1032-1105.
Cross, J.R. 1993, Craft specialization in non-stratified societies. Research in Economic Anthropology, 14: 61-84.
Darvill, T. 1989, The circulation of Neolithic stone and flint axes: A case study from Wales and the Mid-West of England. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 55: 27-43. doi:10.1017/s0079497x00005338
Delage, C. 2007, Chert availability in Israel and Palestine: A regional assessment based on data from the Galilee. In: Chert Availability and Prehistoric Exploitation in the Near East, (Delage, C., Ed.), BAR International Series Vol. 1615, Archaeopress, Oxford: p. 29-53.
Dorrell, P.G. 1983, Appendix A - Stone vessels, tools and objects. In: Jericho V, (Kenyon, K., & Holland, T.A., Eds.), British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, London: p. 485-575.
Ebeling, J., & Rosenberg, D. 2016, A basalt vessel workshop at Iron Age Hazor - Its context, products and implications. Journal of Field Archaeology, 40(6): 665-674. doi:10.1080/00934690.2015.1101941
Ekshtain, R., Brazilai, O., Inbar, M., Milvesky, I., & Ullman, M. 2012, Givat Rabi East, a new Middle Paleolithic knapping site in the Lower Galilee (Israel). Paléorient, 37(2): 107-122. doi:10.3406/paleo.2011.5426
Garfinkel, Y., & Dag, D. 2006, Gesher: A Pre-Pottery Neolithic A site in the Central Jordan Valley, Israel. A final report. Ex Oriente, Berlin, 214 p.
Gilead, I., Marder, O., Khalaily, H., Fabian, P., Abadi, Y., & Yisrael, Y. 2004, The Beit Eshel Chalcolithic flint workshop in Beer Sheva: A preliminary report. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society, 34: 245-263.
Gluhak, T.M., & Hofmeister, W. 2009, Roman lava quarries in the Eifel region (Germany): Geochemical data for millstone provenance studies. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(8): 1774-1782. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.04.007
Gluhak, T.M., & Rosenberg, D. 2013, Geochemical discrimination of basaltic sources as a tool for provenance analyses of bifacial tools in the southern Levant: First results from the Jezreel Valley, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40: 1611-1622. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.11.003
Gopher, A. 1989, The Flint Assemblages of Monhata. Association Paléorient, Paris, 162 p.
Gopher, A. 1997, Ground stone tools and other stone objects from Netiv Hagdud. In: An Early Neolithic Village in the Jordan Valley. Part 1: The Archaeology of Netiv Hagdud, (Bar-Yosef, O., & Gopher, A., Eds.), Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge: p. 151-176.
Gopher, A., & Barkai. R. 2011, A new Neolithic quarry complex at Har Gevim, Israel: An introduction. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of the UISPP Commission on Flint Mining in Pre-and Proto-historic Times (Madrid, 1 4e17 October 2009), BAR International Series. Vol. 2260, Archaeopress, Oxford: p. 275-282.
Goren-Inbar, N. 2011, Culture and cognition in the Acheulian industry: A case study from Gesher Benot Ya’aqov. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 366: 1038-1049. doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0365
Gould, R.A., & Saggers, S. 1985, Lithic procurement in Central Australia: A closer look at Binford's idea of Embeddedness in archaeology. American Antiquity, 50(1): 117-136. doi:10.2307/280637
Hartenberger, B., Rosen, S., & Matney, T. 2000, The Early Bronze Age blade workshop at Titris Höyük: Lithic specialization in an urban context. Near Eastern Archaeology, 63(1): 51-58. doi:10.2307/3210808
Hayden, B. 1987. Traditional metate manufacturing in Guatemala using chipped stone tools. In: Lithic Studies Among the Contemporary Highland Maya, (Hayden, B., Ed.), University of Arizona Press, Tucson: p. 8-119.
Healey, E. 2001, The role of obsidian at the Halaf site of Domuztepe, s.e. Anatila. In: Beyond Tools, (Caneva, I., Lemorini, C., Zampetti, D., & Biagi, P., Eds.), Ex Oriente, Berlin: p. 389-397.
Hovers, E. 2001, Territorial behavior in the Middle Paleolithic of the Southern Levant. In: Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age, (Conard. N.J., Ed.), Kerns Verlag, Tübingen: p. 123-152.
Ishimura, T., & Addison, D.J. 2007, Ateliers of basalt. Basalt industries of Tafuna (AS-31-150) and Pava’ia’I (AS-31-170), Tutuila Island, American Samoa. Archaeology in Oceania, 42(1): 33-40. doi:10.1002/j.1834-4453.2007.tb00014.x
Nadel, D., Rosenberg, D., Shtober Zisu, N., & Filin, S. 2011, The Nahal Galim/Nahal Ornit prehistoric flint quarry in Mt. Carmel, Israel. Eurasian Prehistory, 8(1-2): 51-66.
Olami, Y. 1984, Prehistoric Carmel. Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, 216 p.
Özbek, O. 2000, A prehistoric stone axe production site in Turkish Thrace: Hamaylitarla. Documenta Praehistorica, 27: 167-170.
Özbek, O. 2011. Primary and secondary raw material preferences in the Neolithic societies in Northwest Turkey in the production of Neolithic polished stone tools in north-west Turkey. In: Stone Axe Studies III, (Davis, V., & Edmonds, M., Eds.), Oxbow Books, Oxford: p. 217-229.
Özbek, O., & Erol, K. 2001. Etude pétrographique des haches polies du Hamaylıtarla et Fenerkaradutlar (Turquie). Anatolia Antiqua, 9: 1-7. (in French) (“Petrographic study of polish axes of Hamaylıtarla and Fenerkaradutlar (Turkey)”). doi:10.3406/anata.2001.953
Pétrequin, P., & Pétrequin, A.M. 1993, From polish stone tool to the sacred axe. The axes of the Danis of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. In: The Use of Tools by Human and Non-Human Primates, (Berthelet, A., & Chavaillion, J., Eds.), Clarendon Press, Oxford: p. 359-377. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198522638.001.0001
Pétrequin, P., Pétrequin, A.M., Jeudy, F., Jeunesse, C., Monnier, J.L., Pelegrin, J., & Praud, I. 1998, From the raw material to the Neolithic stone axe: production processes and social context. In: Understanding the Neolithic of Northwestern Europe, (Edmonds, M., & Richards, C., Eds.), Cruithne Press, Glasgow: p. 277-311.
Quintero, L. A., & Wilke, P. J. 1995, Evolution and economic significance of naviform core-and-blade technology in the southern Levant. Paléorient, 21(1): 17-33. doi:10.3406/paleo.1995.4607
Raban, A. 1999, Map of Mishmar Ha-‘Emeq. Archaeological Survey of Israel, Israel Antiquity Authority, Jerusalem, 220 p.
Rhoads, J.W., & Mackenzie, D.E. 1991, Stone axe trade in prehistoric Papua: the travels of Python. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 57(2): 35-49. doi:10.1017/s0079497x00004497
Risch, R. 2011, Social and economic organization of stone axe production and distribution in the western Mediterranean. In: Stone Axe Studies III, (Davis, V., & Edmond, M., Eds.), Oxbow Books, Oxford and Oakville: p. 99-118.
Ronen, A., & Davis, M. 1970, Un atelier de taille Neolithique au Mt. Carmel - le point 355 Z. L'Anthropologie, 74: 161-194. (in French) (“A Neolithic knapping workshop at Mt. Carmel - point 355 Z”).
le Roux, C.T. 1998, Specialized production, diffusion, and exchange during the Neolithic in Western France: the example of polished stone axes. In: Understanding the Neolithic of North-Western Europe, (Edmonds, M., & Richards, C., Eds.), Cruithne Press, Glasgow: p. 370-384.
Rosen, S. 1997, Lithics After the Stone Age: A Handbook of Stone Tools from the Southern Levant. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, 184 p.
Rosen, S. A., & Schneider, J. S. 2001, Early Bronze Age milling stone production and exchange in the Negev: preliminary report. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society, 31: 201-212.
Rosenberg, D. 2008. Serving meals making a home - The PPNA limestone vessel industry of the Southern Levant and its importance to the Neolithic Revolution. Paléorient, 34(1): 23-32. doi:10.3406/paleo.2008.5231
Rosenberg, D. 2011, Development, Continuity and Change: The Stone Industries of the Early Ceramic Bearing Cultures of the southern Levant. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, (Hebrew with English summary), University of Haifa, Haifa, pp. 572.
Rosenberg, D. in press. The stone assemblage of Hagoshrim - Continuity and change in the Neolithic of northern Israel. In: Hagoshrim (Getzov, N., ed.) IAA Reports, Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem.
Rosenberg, D., Etzion, N., Ronen, A., & Kaufman, D. 2009, Daliyat el-Carmel 3 - A flint bifacial tools workshop on Mount Carmel: Preliminary account. Neo-Lithics, 2/09: 31-35.
Rosenberg, D., & Gluhak, T. 2015, Trade me an axe? Interpretive challenges of the distribution and provenance of Neolithic basaltic bifacial tools in Israel. Antiquity, 90(349): 1-16. doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.191
Rosenberg, D., & Gopher, A. 2010, Food processing tools and other groundstone implements from Gilgal I and Gilgal III. In: Gilgal: Early Neolithic Occupations in the Lower Jordan Valley. The Excavations of Tamar Noy, (Bar-Yosef, O., Goring-Morris, A.N., & Gopher, A., Eds.), American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph Series, Oxbow, Oxford: p. 139-175.
Rosenberg, D., Kaufman, D., Yeshurun, R., & Weinstein-Evron, M. 2012, The broken record: The Natufian groundstone assemblage from el-Wad Terrace (Mount Carmel, Israel) - attributes and their interpretation. Journal of Eurasian Prehistory, 9(1-2): 93-128.
Rosenberg, D., & Nadel, D. 2009, Prehistoric flint quarries and workshops in Mount Carmel - The Nahal Galim/Nahal Ornit complex. The Quarry, 4(2): 5-12.
Rosenberg, D., Nadel, D., & Ronen, A. 2011, Ein Qedem 2 - A Kebaran site in Nahal Galim, Mount Carmel, Israel. Documenta Prehistorica, 38: 231-239.
Rosenberg, D., & Shimelmitz, R. 2010, Giv’at Kipod - a basalt quarry and a workshop for the production of bifacial tools in Israel. The Quarry, 5: 7-14.
Rosenberg, D., Shimelmitz, R., & Nativ, A. 2008, Basalt bifacial tools production in the Southern Levant: A glance at the quarry and workshop site of Giv’at Kipod, Israel. Antiquity, 82: 367-376.
Ross, A., Anderson, B., & Campbell, C. 2003, Gunumbah: archaeological and aboriginal meanings at a Quarry site on Moreton Island, Southeast Queensland. Australian Archaeology, 57: 75-81. doi:10.1080/03122417.2003.11681764
Samzun, A. 1994, Le mobilier en pierre. In: Le Site de Hatoula en Judée Occidentale, Israël, (Lechevallier, M., Ronen, A., Eds.), Mémoires et Travaux du Centre de Recherche Français de Jérusalem 8, Association Paléorient, Paris: p. 193-226. (in French) (“The ground stones assemblage”)
Schortman, E.M., & Urban, P.A. 2004, Modeling the roles of craft production in ancient political economies. Journal of Archaeological Research, 12(2): 185-226. doi:10.1023/B:JARE.0000023712.34302.49
Schyle, D. 2007, Ramat Tamar and Metzad Mazal. The Early Neolithic Economy of Flint Mining and Production of Bifacials Southwest of the Dead Sea. Ex Oriente, Berlin, 224 p.
Shafer, H. J., & Hester, T. R. 1991, Lithic craft specialization and product distribution at the Maya site of Colha Belize. World Archaeology, 23(1): 79-97. doi:10.1080/00438243.1991.9980160
Shea, J.J. 2013, Stone Tools in the Paleolithic and Neolithic Near East. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 422 p.
Shimelmitz, R. 2009, Variability in the specialized Canaanean blade production of the Early Bronze Levant. In: Techniques and People, (Rosen, S., & Roux, V., Eds.), Le Centre de Recherche Français à Jérusalem, Jerusalem: p. 135-156.
Shimelmitz, R., Barkai, R., & Gopher, A. 2000, A Canaanean blade workshop at Har Haruvim, Israel. Tel Aviv, 27(1): 3-22. doi:10.1179/tav.2000.2000.1.3
Shimelmitz, R., & Mendel, S. 2008, A Chalcolithic workshop for the production of blades and bifacial tools at Khirbet Yoah, the Manasseh Hills. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society, 38: 229-256.
Shimelmitz. R., Rosenberg, D., & Nativ, A. 2005, Giva’t Kipod: A basalt quarry and workshop for the production of bifacial tools in the Manasseh Hills, Israel. Neo-Lithics, 1(5): 9-12.
Taçon, P. 1991, The power of stone: Symbolic aspects of stone use and tool development in Western Arnhem Land, Australia. Antiquity, 65(247): 192-207. doi:10.1017/s0003598x00079655
Thomas, J., & Tilley, C. 1993, The axe and the Torso: Symbolic structures in the Neolithic of Brittany. In: Interpretative Archaeology (Tilley, C., Ed.), Berg, Oxford: p. 225-324. doi:10.5040/
VanPool, T.L., & Leonard, R.D. 2002, Specialized ground stone production in the Casas Grandes region of Northern Chihuahua, Mexico. American Antiquity, 67(4): 710-730. doi:10.2307/1593800
Vardi, J. 2015, Larnite‐Bearing Rock—the discovery of a new source of raw material in the production of Neolithic and Chalcolithic bifacial tools. Archaeometry, 57, Suppl. 1: 20-35. doi:10.1111/arcm.12131
Vaughn, K. J. 2006, Craft production, exchange, and political power in the Pre-Incaic Andes. Journal of Archaeological Research, 14: 313-344. doi:10.1007/s10814-006-9007-2
Wilson, L. 2007, Understanding prehistoric lithic raw material selection: application of a gravity model. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 14(4): 388-411. doi:10.1007/s10816-007-9042-4
Wreschner, E. 1963, Un atelier de taille dit "Givat Mikhal". Bulletin Société Belge d'Anthropologie et de Préhistoire, 73: 197-211. (in French) (“A knapping workshop "Givat Mikhal"”)
Wright, K. 1993, Early Holocene ground stone assemblages in the Levant. Levant, 25(1): 93-111. doi:10.1179/lev.1993.25.1.93
Yerkes, R.W., Barkai, R., Gopher, A., & Bar-Yosef, O. 2003, Microweare analysis of early Neolithic (PPNA) axes and bifacials tools from Netiv Hagdud in the Jordan Valley, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science, 30(8): 1051-1066. doi:10.1016/s0305-4403(03)00007-4
How to Cite
Shimelmitz, R., & Rosenberg, D. (2016). The organization of basanite bifacial production at Giv’at Kipod Quarry, Israel: Towards an ‘Alyawara Day’ model of extraction. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 499-521.
Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research