Pre-Pottery Neolithic

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Pre-Pottery Neolithic
Fertile crescent Neolithic B circa 7500 BC.jpg
Area of the fertile crescent, circa 7500 BC, with main Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites. The area of Mesopotamia proper was not yet settled by humans.
Geographical range Fertile Crescent
Period Neolithic
Datescirca 10,000 — 6,500 BCE [1]
Type site Jericho
Preceded by Epipalaeolithic Near East
(Kebaran culture, Natufian culture)
Followed by Halaf culture, Neolithic Greece, Faiyum A culture
Map of the world showing approximate centers of origin of agriculture and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP) and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000-6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000-4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000-4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000-4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000-3,000 BP). Centres of origin and spread of agriculture.svg
Map of the world showing approximate centers of origin of agriculture and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP) and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000–6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000–4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000–4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000–4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000–3,000 BP).

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent, dating to c. 12,000 – c.8,500  years ago, that is 10,000-6,500 BCE. [1] [3] [4] [5] It succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic Near East (also called Mesolithic), as the domestication of plants and animals was in its formative stages, having possibly been induced by the Younger Dryas. The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event, a cool spell centred on 6200 BCE that lasted several hundred years. It is succeeded by the Pottery Neolithic.

Neolithic Archaeological period, last part of the Stone Age

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.

Levant Region in the eastern Mediterranean

The Levant is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily in Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica.

Mesopotamia Historical region within the Tigris–Euphrates river system

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.


Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic is divided into Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA 10,000 – 8,800 BCE) and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB 8,800 – 6500 BCE). [1] [5] These were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine). The Pre-Pottery Neolithic precedes the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). At 'Ain Ghazal in Jordan the culture continued a few more centuries as the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic C culture.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A archaeological culture

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, in early Levantine and Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating to c. 12,000 – c. 10,800 years ago, that is, 10,000–8,800 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and Upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B archaeological culture

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, a Neolithic culture centered in upper Mesopotamia, dating to c. 10,800 – c. 8,500 years ago, that is, 8,800–6,500 BCE. It was typed by Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the West Bank. Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Mesolithic Natufian culture. However, it shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.

Kathleen Kenyon British archaeologist

Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon, was a British archaeologist of Neolithic culture in the Fertile Crescent. She led excavations of Tell es-Sultan, the site of ancient Jericho, from 1952 to 1958, and has been called one of the most influential archaeologists of the 20th century. She was Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford from 1962 to 1973.

Around 9,000 BCE during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) the world's first town Jericho appeared in the Levant.

Jericho Municipality type A in State of Palestine

Jericho is a Palestinian city in the West Bank. It is located in the Jordan Valley, with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate, and is governed by the Palestinian National Authority. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. The city was occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, and has been held under Israeli occupation since 1967; administrative control was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994. It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the city with the oldest known protective wall in the world. It was thought to have the oldest stone tower in the world as well, but excavations at Tell Qaramel in Syria have discovered stone towers that are even older.

Göbekli Tepe archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Göbekli Tepe is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (980 ft) in diameter. It is approximately 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level.

Urfa Man

The Urfa man, also known as the Balıklıgöl statue, is an ancient anthropomorphological statue found in excavations in Balıklıgöl near Urfa, in the geographical area of Upper Mesopotamia, in the southeast of modern Turkey. It is dated circa 9000 BC to the period of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, and is considered as "the oldest naturalistic life-sized sculpture of a human". It is considered as contemporaneous with the sites of Göbekli Tepe and Nevalı Çori.

Şanlıurfa Archaeology and Mosaic Museum

Şanlıurfa Archaeology and Mosaic Museum is a museum in Şanlıurfa, Turkey. The museum contains remains of Şanlıurfa, Harran, and ruins found in the hydroelectric dam reservoirs of Atatürk Dam, Birecik Dam and Karkamış Dam.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

PPNB differed from PPNA in showing greater use of domesticated animals, a different set of tools, and new architectural styles.

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

Aragonite carbonate mineral

Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the three most common naturally occurring crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3 (the other forms being the minerals calcite and vaterite). It is formed by biological and physical processes, including precipitation from marine and freshwater environments.

Calcite carbonate mineral

Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The Mohs scale of mineral hardness, based on scratch hardness comparison, defines value 3 as "calcite".

Pre-Pottery Neolithic C

Work at the site of 'Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period. Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon domesticated animals, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq. [7]

Ain Ghazal Neolithic site in North-Western Jordan

Ayn Ghazal is a neolithic archaeological site located in metropolitan Amman, Jordan, about 2 km north-west of Amman Civil Airport.

Jordan Arab country in Western Asia

Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab country in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and the east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel and the Palestinian West Bank to the west. The Dead Sea is located along its western borders and the country has a 26-kilometre (16 mi) coastline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city as well as the country's economic, political and cultural centre.

Juris Zarins (Zariņš) is an American-Latvian archaeologist and professor at Missouri State University, who specializes in the Middle East.



Carbon 14 datation

Map of the spread of Neolithic farming cultures from the Near-East to Europe, with dates. Map of the spread of Neolithic farming cultures in Europe.jpg
Map of the spread of Neolithic farming cultures from the Near-East to Europe, with dates.

The spread of the Neolithic in Europe was first studied quantitatively in the 1970s, when a sufficient number of 14C age determinations for early Neolithic sites had become available. [8] Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza discovered a linear relationship between the age of an Early Neolithic site and its distance from the conventional source in the Near East (Jericho), thus demonstrating that, on average, the Neolithic spread at a constant speed of about 1 km/yr. [8] More recent studies confirm these results and yield the speed of 0.6–1.3 km/yr at 95% confidence level. [8]

Analysis of mitochondrial DNA

Since the original human expansions out of Africa 200,000 years ago, different prehistoric and historic migration events have taken place in Europe. [9] Considering that the movement of the people implies a consequent movement of their genes, it is possible to estimate the impact of these migrations through the genetic analysis of human populations. [9] Agricultural and husbandry practices originated 10,000 years ago in a region of the Near East known as the Fertile Crescent. [9] According to the archaeological record this phenomenon, known as “Neolithic”, rapidly expanded from these territories into Europe. [9] However, whether this diffusion was accompanied or not by human migrations is greatly debated. [9] Mitochondrial DNA –a type of maternally inherited DNA located in the cell cytoplasm- was recovered from the remains of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) farmers in the Near East and then compared to available data from other Neolithic populations in Europe and also to modern populations from South Eastern Europe and the Near East. [9] The obtained results show that substantial human migrations were involved in the Neolithic spread and suggest that the first Neolithic farmers entered Europe following a maritime route through Cyprus and the Aegean Islands. [9]

South Asia

Expansion to South Asia
Early Neolithic sites in the Near East and South Asia 10,000-3,800 BCE.jpg
Early Neolithic sites in the Near East and South Asia 10,000-3,800 BCE
Establishment of Neolithic sites.jpg
Neolithic dispersal from the Near East to South Asia suggested by the time of establishment of Neolithic sites as a function of distance from Gesher, Israel. The dispersal rate amounts to about 0.6 km per year. [11]

The earliest Neolithic sites in South Asia are Bhirrana in Haryana, dated to 7570-6200 BC, [12] and Mehrgarh, dated to between 6500 and 5500 BC, in the Kachi plain of Baluchistan, Pakistan; the site has evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats).

There is strong evidence for causal connections between the Near-Eastern Neolithic and that further east, up to the Indus Valley. [13] There are several lines of evidence that support the idea of connection between the Neolithic in the Near East and in the Indian subcontinent. [13] The prehistoric site of Mehrgarh in Baluchistan (modern Pakistan) is the earliest Neolithic site in the north-west Indian subcontinent, dated as early as 8500 BCE. [13] Neolithic domesticated crops in Mehrgarh include more than barley and a small amount of wheat. There is good evidence for the local domestication of barley and the zebu cattle at Mehrgarh, but the wheat varieties are suggested to be of Near-Eastern origin, as the modern distribution of wild varieties of wheat is limited to Northern Levant and Southern Turkey. [13] A detailed satellite map study of a few archaeological sites in the Baluchistan and Khybar Pakhtunkhwa regions also suggests similarities in early phases of farming with sites in Western Asia. [13] Pottery prepared by sequential slab construction, circular fire pits filled with burnt pebbles, and large granaries are common to both Mehrgarh and many Mesopotamian sites. [13] The postures of the skeletal remains in graves at Mehrgarh bear strong resemblance to those at Ali Kosh in the Zagros Mountains of southern Iran. [13] Despite their scarcity, the 14C and archaeological age determinations for early Neolithic sites in Southern Asia exhibit remarkable continuity across the vast region from the Near East to the Indian Subcontinent, consistent with a systematic eastward spread at a speed of about 0.65 km/yr. [13]

In South India, the Neolithic began by 6500 BC and lasted until around 1400 BC when the Megalithic transition period began. South Indian Neolithic is characterized by Ash mounds[ clarification needed ] from 2500 BC in Karnataka region, expanded later to Tamil Nadu. [14]

Relative chronology

   Pre-Pottery Neolithic    Pottery Neolithic
Europe Egypt Syria
Anatolia Khabur Sinjar Mountains
Middle Tigris Low
Iran Indus/
10000 Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
Gesher [16]
(10,500 BC)
Early Pottery
(18,000 BC) [17]
9000 Jericho
Tell Abu Hureyra
(Agriculture) [18]
8000 Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Tell Aswad
Göbekli Tepe
Aşıklı Höyük
Initial Neolithic
(8500–8000 BC)
7000 Egyptian Neolithic
Nabta Playa
(7500 BC)
(7000 BC)
Tell Sabi Abyad
Jarmo Ganj Dareh
Chia Jani
Ali Kosh
Mehrgarh I [16]
6500 Neolithic Europe
(Agriculture) [19]
Pre-Pottery Neolithic C
('Ain Ghazal)
Pottery Neolithic
Tell Sabi Abyad
Pottery Neolithic
Chogha Bonut Teppe Zagheh Pottery Neolithic
(7000-5000 BC)
6000 Pottery Neolithic
Pottery Neolithic
(Sha'ar HaGolan)
Pottery Neolithic
Ubaid 0
(Tell el-'Oueili)
Pottery Neolithic
Chogha Mish
Pottery Neolithic
Sang-i Chakmak
Pottery Neolithic

Mehrgarh II

Mehrgarh III
5600 Faiyum A
Amuq A


Umm Dabaghiya
(6000-4800 BC)
Tepe Muhammad Djafar Tepe Sialk
5200 Linear Pottery culture
(5500-4500 BC)

Amuq B



Ubaid 1
(Eridu 19-15)

Ubaid 2
(Hadji Muhammed)
(Eridu 14-12)

Susiana A
Yarim Tepe
Hajji Firuz Tepe
4800 Pottery Neolithic
(Agriculture) [20]

Amuq C
Hassuna Late

Gawra 20

Tepe Sabz
Kul Tepe Jolfa
Amuq D
Gian Hasan
Ubaid 3 Ubaid 3
Ubaid 3 Khazineh
Susiana B

Ubaid 4

See also

The Neolithic
Fertile Crescent
Heavy Neolithic
Shepherd Neolithic
Trihedral Neolithic
Pre-Pottery (A, B)
Qaraoun culture
Tahunian culture
Yarmukian Culture
Halaf culture
Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period
Ubaid culture
Nile valley
Faiyum A culture
Tasian culture
Merimde culture
El Omari culture
Maadi culture
Badari culture
Amratian culture
Arzachena culture
Boian culture
Butmir culture
Cardium pottery culture
Cernavodă culture
Coțofeni culture
Cucuteni-Trypillian culture
Dudeşti culture
Gorneşti culture
Gumelniţa–Karanovo culture
Hamangia culture
Linear Pottery culture
Malta Temples
Ozieri culture
Petreşti culture
San Ciriaco culture
Shulaveri-Shomu culture
Sesklo culture
Tisza culture
Tiszapolgár culture
Usatovo culture
Varna culture
Vinča culture
Vučedol culture
Neolithic Transylvania
Neolithic Southeastern Europe
Peiligang culture
Pengtoushan culture
Beixin culture
Cishan culture
Dadiwan culture
Houli culture
Xinglongwa culture
Xinle culture
Zhaobaogou culture
Hemudu culture
Daxi culture
Majiabang culture
Yangshao culture
Hongshan culture
Dawenkou culture
Songze culture
Liangzhu culture
Majiayao culture
Qujialing culture
Longshan culture
Baodun culture
Shijiahe culture
Yueshi culture
South Asia
Chopani Mando
Philippine Jade culture
Capsian culture
Savanna Pastoral Neolithic

farming, animal husbandry
pottery, metallurgy, wheel
circular ditches, henges, megaliths
Neolithic religion


Related Research Articles

Mehrgarh archaeological site in Balochistan, Pakistan

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site, which lies on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan, Pakistan. Mehrgarh is located near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the present-day Pakistani cities of Quetta, Kalat and Sibi. The site was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologists Jean-François Jarrige and Catherine Jarrige, and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986, and again from 1997 to 2000. Archaeological material has been found in six mounds, and about 32,000 artifacts have been collected. The earliest settlement at Mehrgarh—in the northeast corner of the 495-acre (2.00 km2) site—was a small farming village dated between 7000 BCE and 5500 BCE.

Neolithic Revolution transition from hunter gatherer to settled peoples

The Neolithic Revolution, Neolithic Demographic Transition, Agricultural Revolution, or First Agricultural Revolution was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an increasingly larger population possible. These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants to learn how they grew and developed. This new knowledge led to the domestication of plants.

Peiligang culture archaeological culture

The Peiligang culture was a Neolithic culture in the Yi-Luo river basin that existed from 7000 to 5000 BC. Over 100 sites have been identified with the Peiligang culture, nearly all of them in a fairly compact area of about 100 square kilometers in the area just south of the river and along its banks.

Hacilar archaeological site

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Sesklo Place in Greece

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Nanzhuangtou archaeological site

Nanzhuangtou, dated to 12,600–11,300 cal BP or 11,500–11,000 cal BP,, roughly 9,500–9,000 BC, or 10,700–9,500 BP, roughly 8,700–7,500 BC, is a Initial Neolithic site near Lake Baiyangdian in Xushui County, Hebei, China. The site was discovered under a peat bog. Over 47 pieces of pottery were discovered at the site. Nanzhuangtou is also the earliest Neolithic site yet discovered in northern China. There is evidence that the people at Nanzhuangtou domesticated the dog. Stone grinding slabs and rollers and bone artifacts were also discovered at the site. It is one of the earliest sites showing evidence of millet cultivation dating to 10,500 BP. Pottery can also be dated to 10,200 BP.

Pottery Neolithic

The Pottery Neolithic began around 6,400 BC in the Fertile Crescent, succeeding the period of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. By then distinctive cultures emerged, with pottery like the Halafian and Ubaid. This period has been further divided into PNA and PNB at some sites.

Çayönü human settlement

Çayönü Tepesi is a Neolithic settlement in southeastern Turkey which prospered from circa 8,630 to 6,800 BC. It is located forty kilometres north-west of Diyarbakır, at the foot of the Taurus mountains. It lies near the Boğazçay, a tributary of the upper Tigris River and the Bestakot, an intermittent stream.

Teppe Zagheh

Teppe Zagheh is an early urban settlement located near Qazvin, Iran.

Chia Jani

Chia Jani is an archaeological site in Iran, located along the Qouchemi stream, which flows to the Ravand River about 3 km (1.9 mi) south, in south central part of the Islamabad Plain in the Central-West Zagros Mountains.

Samarra culture archaeological culture

The Samarra culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia that is roughly dated to 5500–4800 BCE. It partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid. Samarran material culture was first recognized during excavations by German Archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld at the site of Samarra. Other sites where Samarran material has been found include Tell Shemshara, Tell es-Sawwan and Yarim Tepe.

Gesher (archaeological site) Archaeological site in Israel

Gesher is an archaeological site located on the southern bank of Nahal Tavor, near kibbutz Gesher in the central Jordan Valley of Israel. It bears signs of occupation from two periods, the very early Neolithic and the Middle Bronze Age. The site was first excavated between 1986 and 1987 by Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and between 2002 and 2004 by Susan Cohen of Montana State University. The average of 4 Radiocarbon dating results suggested inhabitation of the settlement around 8000 BC.

Yarmukian culture moors

The Yarmukian culture was a Neolithic culture of the ancient Levant. It was the first culture in prehistoric Israel and one of the oldest in the Levant to make use of pottery. The Yarmukian derives its name from the Yarmouk River, which flows near its type site of Sha'ar HaGolan, near Kibbutz Sha'ar HaGolan at the foot of the Golan Heights.

Hassuna culture archaeological culture

The Hassuna culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia dating to the early sixth millennium BC. It is named after the type site of Tell Hassuna in Iraq. Other sites where Hassuna material has been found include Tell Shemshara.

Tell Aswad Archaeological site in Syria

Tell Aswad, Su-uk-su or Shuksa, is a large prehistoric, neolithic tell, about 5 hectares (540,000 sq ft) in size, located around 48 kilometres (30 mi) from Damascus in Syria, on a tributary of the Barada River at the eastern end of the village of Jdeidet el Khass.

Tell es-Sultan Archaeological site in the West Bank

Tell es-Sultan also known as Tel Jericho or Ancient Jericho, is the site of ancient and biblical Jericho and today a UNESCO-nominated archaeological site in the West Bank, located two kilometres north of the centre of Jericho. The tell was inhabited from the 10th millennium BCE, and has been called "the oldest town in the world", with many significant archaeological finds; the site is also notable for its role in the history of Levantine archaeology.


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Further reading