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.
|Number of pages||31|
|Journal||Mediterranean Geoscience Reviews|
|State||Published - Jun 2022|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We wish to thank long-time residents of Motza village, Ely Mizrahi and Amir Cohen, for their discussion. Noam Greenbaum, Revital Bookman, and Nathaniel (Nati) Bergman (U. of Haifa) are warmly thanked for constructive comments. Rotem Elinson (Hebrew U. in Jerusalem) provided topical insights and geospatial analysis. Dmitry (Dima) Yegorov and Eyal Marco (IAA) are thanked for their field and imagery assistance with the excavations. Ruth Friedman is thanked for editing this long manuscript. Ofer Marder (Ben-Gurion U. in the Negev) and another anonymous reviewer are appreciated for their meticulous reviews that significantly improved this paper.
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
- Holocene palaeoenvironment
- Mediterranean climate zone
- Pre-pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)