The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (abbreviated PPN) is the name given to the people who domesticated the earliest plants and lived in farming communities in the Levant and Near East. The PPN culture contained most of the attributes we think of Neolithic--except pottery, which was not used in the Levant until ca. 5500 BC.
The designations PPNA and PPNB (for Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and so forth) were first developed by Kathleen Kenyon to use at the complex excavations at Jericho, which is probably the best known PPN site. PPNC, referring to the terminal Early Neolithic was first identified at 'Ain Ghazal by Gary O. Rollefson.
Pre-Pottery Neolithic Chronology
- PPNA (ca 10,500 to 9,500 BP) Jericho, Netiv Hagdud, Nahul Oren, Gesher, Dhar', Jerf al Ahmar, Abu Hureyra, Göbekli Tepe
- PPNB (ca 9,500 to 8200 BP) Abu Hureyra, Ain Ghazal, Çatalhöyük, Cayönü Tepesi, Jericho, Shillourokambos
- PPNC (ca 8200 to 7500 BP) Hagoshrim), Ain Ghazal
Crops of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic
Crops domesticated during the PPN include the founder crops: the cereals (einkorn and emmer wheat and barley), the pulses (lentil, pea, bitter vetch, and chickpea), and a fiber crop (flax). Domesticated forms of these crops have been excavated at sites such as Abu Hureyra, Cafer Hüyük, Cayönü and Nevali Çori.
In addition, the sites of Gilgal and Netiv Hagdud have produced some evidence supporting the domestication of fig trees during the PPNA. Animals domesticated during the PPNB include sheep, goats, and possible cattle.
Ritual behavior during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic is quite remarkable, indicated by the presence of large human figurines at sites such as 'Ain Ghazal, and plastered skulls at 'Ain Ghazal, Jericho, Beisomoun and Kfar HaHoresh. A plastered skull was made by modeling a plaster replica of skin and features onto a human skull. In some cases cowry shells were used for eyes, and sometimes they were painted using cinnabar or other iron-rich element.
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