The palaeoenvironment and the environmental impact of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Motza megasite and its surrounding Mediterranean landscape in the central Judean Highlands (Israel)

Joel Roskin, Yotam Asscher, Hamoudi Khalaily, Oren Ackermann, Jacob Vardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the largest prehistoric settlements in Israel and Jordan was uncovered by the Motza salvage excavation in the largest and deepest drainage basin of the Judean highlands in central Israel. On a fan-shaped piedmont-like slope probably developed from Neolithic waste and materials and covering more than 0.5 km, the Motza “megasite” comprises more than 1,200 excavation squares, each measuring 25 sq.m. Plastered structures, a rich artefactual assemblage and a distinct unit of angular clasts containing artefacts dating mainly to the final stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) period suggest a significant engagement with surrounding resources. A geospatial analysis of the Motza region is presented with preliminary artefactual, geoarchaeological and analytical results from the excavation and a review of regional palaeoclimate, palaeoenvironment and geoscientific studies. The present and past geomorphic processes, and the hydrology of the site’s environs are assessed and their influence on-site selection and sustainability are discussed. The Early Holocene palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental conditions during a geomorphic time-window help to explain the Neolithic climax that apparently generated a reasonable ecogeomorphic impact, probably for the first time in the region. However, this review cannot offer deterministic explanations, especially regarding the abandonment of the megasite. The limitations of palaeo-reconstruction and the impact of recycled landscapes and intensive early modern-to-modern land use are discussed, along with the contribution of the occupiers of the megasite to shaping the regional Mediterranean landscape to the present day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-245
Number of pages31
JournalMediterranean Geoscience Reviews
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Keywords

  • Geoarchaeology
  • Holocene palaeoenvironment
  • Levant
  • Mediterranean climate zone
  • Megasite
  • Pre-pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)

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