The life-history of basalt ground stone tools from early urban domestic contexts: A chronicle from the EBA III of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel

  • Jeremy A. Beller University of Manitoba
  • Haskel J. Greenfield University of Manitoba
  • Itzhaq Shai Ariel University
  • Aren M. Maeir Bar-Ilan University
Keywords: Tell es-Safi/Gath, early complex societies, southern Levant, ground stone tools, Early Bronze Age, basalt

Abstract


Recent archaeological excavations at the early urban settlement of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel present the opportunity to reconstruct the life-history of basalt ground stone artefacts of an early urban domestic neighbourhood. Tell es-Safi/Gath is a multi-period site located on the border between the Judean foothills and the southern coastal plain of central Israel. Survey and excavations over the last two decades demonstrated that it was a major urban centre for the region during the Early Bronze Age (EBA) III. At the eastern end of the site, a neighbourhood of commoner residences (some perhaps associated with mercantile activities) have been exposed. This paper describes and analyses the basalt ground stone tools found in association with this domestic neighbourhood. It seeks to establish the nature of production, distribution, consumption, and discard associated with ground stone tools within a domestic context. The study involved several forms of analysis including typology, macroscopic observations, and excavation data. It is suggested that basalt sources from the northeastern regions of the southern Levant were exploited for the small-scale production of basalt artefacts by non-specialised craftsmen. These commodities were then transported in more or less finished form to Tell es-Safi/Gath where they were further redistributed or sold to the settlement residents. The residents of the Tell es-Safi/Gath neighbourhood utilised the basalt artefacts for traditionally domestic tasks, and ultimately intentionally discarded or recycled them in a few depositional contexts. In summary, this paper presents a unique investigation into the life-history of basalt ground stone artefacts discovered in the EB III occupation levels of Tell es-Safi/Gath. It further demonstrates the potential of ground stone tools for understanding the behaviour and daily life of non-elite people.

Author Biographies

Jeremy A. Beller, University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba
Department of Anthropology
and
St. Paul’s College
Winnipeg MB; R3T 2N2
Canada
Haskel J. Greenfield, University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba
Department of Anthropology 
and 
St. Paul’s College
Winnipeg MB; R3T 2N2
Canada
Itzhaq Shai, Ariel University

Israel Heritage Department
Ariel University
P.O.B. 3, Ariel 40700
Israel

Aren M. Maeir, Bar-Ilan University

Bar-Ilan University
Institute of Archaeology
the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology
Ramat Gan 52900
Israel

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Published
31-Oct-2016
How to Cite
Beller, J., Greenfield, H., Shai, I., & Maeir, A. (2016). The life-history of basalt ground stone tools from early urban domestic contexts: A chronicle from the EBA III of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 31-55. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1675
Section
Papers Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research