2004 & 2018 Grant Recipient
The Pre-pottery Neolithic A Site of Zahrat Adh-'Dhra 2 and the Dawn of Farming by the Dead Sea
The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) site of Zahrat Adh-'Dhra 2 lies on the barren and deeply dissected Dhra‘ Plain, at the south-east corner of the Dead Sea in Jordan. However, in its heyday (9,200 - 8,300 cal BC) during the early Holocene, the settlement lay in a more congenial setting beside the alluvial fan of the ancestral Wadi adh-Dhra‘. Zahrat adh-Dhra‘ 2 was excavated by a La Trobe University team between 1999 and 2002. As one of the final PPNA sites in the southern Levant, its dating has necessitated a significant revision of Pre-Pottery Neolithic chronology. It has produced rare evidence for the stage of ‘pre-domestication agriculture’; and several lines of evidence suggest that it may have functioned as a station for the raising of crops. It has produced contextual evidence for the production of incised Neolithic stone plaquettes, and it was one of the earliest southern Levantine Neolithic sites to become incorporated into the obsidian exchange network centred in Turkey. As a site possibly oriented towards plant cultivation rather than hunting, it has yielded an atypical flaked stone tool industry, characterized by ground stone and flaked axes and Hagdud truncations, but virtually no projectile points.
Dr. Phillip C. Edwards teaches in the Department of Archaeology & History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. His major research interests include developments in the Levant leading up to the origins of farming and the first villages. For the past 35 years he has specialised in the prehistoric archaeology of the east Jordan Valley. There he has excavated a series of Lower, Middle, Upper Palaeolithic, Epipalaeolithic sites and Neolithic sites, spanning the period between 500,000 and 9,000 years ago. His current research is focused on the analysis and publication of the early farming community at Zahrat adh-Dhra‘ 2 in Jordan, with the aid of a new White-Levy publication grant. He also directs the ‘Ice Age Villagers of the Levant: sedentism and social connections in the Natufian period’ project, which seeks to better understand how hunter-gatherer communities settled in the first villages towards the end of the Pleistocene.