site located in the Jordan Valley, at 240 m below sea level, on Lisan marl deposits between two small wadis (32°19′ N, 35°33′ E). It originally covered an area of 1,400 m east–west and 400 m north–south. Since 1975 and the development of modern agriculture, it has suffered from intensive leveling, and most of the site has disappeared.

The site was first surveyed In 1975 (Ibrahim, Sauer, and Yassine, 1975), and revisited In 1982 by Zeidan Kafafi (Kafafi, 1982). In 1984 an international research project was initiated by the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of Yarmouk University, Jordan; the Institut Français d'Archéologie du Proche Orient (IFAPO, Amman); and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, with the cooperation of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. Research was focused on the Jordan Valley and the northern Jordanian plateau in the seventh-fifth millennia BP. The first stage of the project was the excavation of Abu Hamid. The five seasons carried out from 1986 to 1992 provided a firm stratigraphic and chronological sequence: 350–2,000 sq m were exposed, and long north–south and east–west sections were established. The stratigraphic sequence and the chronology of the occupation of the site can now be combined with the sequence at Munhata (30 km, or 19 mi., to the north, on the west bank of the Jordan River) to provide a clear picture of the history of the middle Jordan Valley region. [See Munhata; Jordan Valley.]

At Abu Ḥamid no significant hiatus is presented in the stratigraphic sequence; however, small gaps were observed that were caused by occasional abandonment or by the use of the site by seasonal groups (Dollfus and Kafafi, 1993). At the beginning of the occupation, in the early seventh millennium BP, the group lived in circular or oval shelters partially dug into the soil (up to 1.50 m deep, 1.80–3 m in diameter); some are lined with roughly made bricks along the sides. The inhabitants used various kinds of pits and gypsum basins to store and process food. Their handmade pottery includes a small percentage of painted ware (bowls with interior and/or exterior decoration, such as chevrons or diagonal lines; jars with sun motifs and criss-crossed lines). In terms of subsistence, the inhabitants were beyond merely exploiting natural resources; they employed strategies to exploit their livestock and grew wheat, barley, lentils, and peas. These levels are certainly postclassical Yarmukian, as defined at Sha῾ar ha-Golan by Moshe Stekelis; at Munḥata 2b by Jean Perrot, Avi Gopher, and Yosef Garfinkel; at Abu Thawwab; at ῾Ain Rahub; and at Wadi Shu῾eib by Kafafi (1993). [See Sha῾ar ha-Golan; Shu῾eib, Wadi.] In some strata ashy floors, pits, and hearths were observed, but no dwelling remains.

During the next occupation, which, according to the stratigraphy and the associated cultural remains could be dated to the second part of the seventh millennium BP, the houses were built with well-made plano-convex mud bricks and most are pluricellular. Their rooms are rectangular and, in some instances, their interior walls were plastered with gypsum. At least one structure had a wall painting, of which some fragments were uncovered. Its design is linear, broad, straight lines in yellow and red, with a series of narrower vertical and curved lines in red. [See Wall Paintings.]

The occupants either heated their houses or cooked inside (cf. some small oval pits with ashes), but most domestic activities took place outside, as suggested by the many gypsum plastered basins, oval fire pits, and hearths found in one of the dwelling complexes. In that same complex, the large rectangular living room is clearly separated from a storage building comprised of two small rectangular rooms and a brick platform.

The ceramic evidence shows new techniques, especially in decoration: incisions, impressions, deep punctures, combing and such plastic decoration as incised or finger-impressed bands in relief; an applied snake decoration appears for the first time. Painted sherds as well as some sherds of extremely finely made dark- and red-faced burnished ware were found. Shapes that played an important role in the following periods, such as churns and pedestal vessels, make their debut here. From a chronological point of view, these levels undoubtedly pertain to the Wadi Rabah chronological horizon (cf. Wadi Rabah, Munḥata 2a, Hazorea῾). Differences do exist, for at Abu Ḥamid there is an absence of carinated vessels and bow rims.

Abu Ḥamid, Tell

ABU ḥAMID, TELL. Rectangular living room from a late fifth-millennium dwelling. (Courtesy Z. Kafafi)

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In the early sixth millennium BP, the village compound was comprised of a series of houses. Most of them were originally unicellular, but during their occupation partitions were made in some; in others, small rooms were added. The houses differ in building technique. Some are made completely of mud bricks, while others have walls with stone bases. As at the beginning of the occupation, the group raised animals: sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle. [See Sheep and Goats; Pigs; Cattle and Oxen.] Its material culture represents a regional facies—northern Middle Jordan Valley, Upper Jordan Valley, Djaulan, Irbid plateau—of the Ghassulian/Beersheba culture, evident in aspects of its pottery and artifacts (large storage jars, flint perforated disks, “pillar mortars”). As the violin figurines and large zoomorphological vessel (bull) recovered at Tel Abu Hamid suggest, the group certainly had links with others living in the south (Negev); moreover there also were ties with the inhabitants of the Wadi ῾Arabah, indicated by the copper used in some pins from Wadi Feinan copper ores.

[See also Institut Français d'Archéologie du Proche Orient.]

Bibliography

  • Dollfus, Genevieve, and Zeidan A. Kafafi et al. “Preliminary Results of the First Season of the Joint Jordano-French Project at Abu Hamid.” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 30 (1986): 353–380.
  • Dollfus, Genevieve, and Zeidan A. Kafafi et al. “Abu Hamid, an Early Fourth Millennium Site in the Jordan Valley: Preliminary Results.” In The Prehistory of Jordan: The State of Research in 1986, edited by A. N. Garrard and Hans Georg Gebel, pp. 567–601. Oxford, 1988.
  • Dollfus, Genevieve, and Zeidan A. Kafafi. “Recent Research at Abu Hamid.” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 38 (1993): 241–262.
  • Dollfus, Genevieve, and Zeidan A. Kafafi. “Representatins humaines et animales sur le site d'Abu Hamid (MI–7E–D'ebut 6E Millenaire BP).” Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 5 (1995): 449–457.
  • Ibrahim, Moawiyah, James A. Sauer, and Khair Yassine. “The East Jordan Valley Survey, 1975.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 222 (1976): 41–66.
  • Kafafi, Zeidan A. “The Neolithic of Jordan (East Bank).” Ph.D. diss., Freie Universität Berlin, 1982.
  • Kafafi, Zeidan A. “The Yarmoukians in Jordan.” Paleorient 19.1 (1993): 101–115.

Zeidan A. Kafafi and Genevieve Dollfus