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Atlas of Jordan

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Myriam Ababsa

Chapter two - From the First Men’s Steps to the Hellenistic Age (-1.5 mya – 323 BC)

The First Cities in Early Bronze Age (3600-2000 BC)

Wael Abu Azizeh

Texte intégral

1The Early Bronze Age marked a watershed in the history of the southern Levant. This period represents a milestone in the march towards the urban era, expressing profound changes in the organization of societies.

2A series of technical innovations allowed the development of an agricultural economy. Irrigation, already used during the previous period, became the rule, and the introduction of the ox and plough improved yield and allowed the farming of new lands. The cultivation of olives and vines increased. Finally, the use of the donkey as a beast of burden and the spread of bronze tools facilitated this process of the intensification of production.

3Furthermore, a series of transformations in the design of towns shows a growing level of social organisation into a hierarchy. Some sites, mostly concentrated in the north and along the Jordan Valley, stand out from other villages and have added fortifications (Bab al-Dhra’, Kh. Zeraqun, Numeira, Tell Handaquq (N) and Pella). Defensive structures such as rectangular towers and bastions were erected along stone ramparts, along with monumental gateways. In some cases, privileged acropolis sectors accommodated new forms of public and administrative buildings, while most domestic premises were located in the lower town (Tell Hammam, Tell Handaquq (S), Leijjun) (fig. II.14). Places of worship, previously built both inside villages and outside, henceforth occupied a central place. The site of Kh. Zeraqun illustrates these characteristics of Early Bronze Age towns. Defended by large stone ramparts, the design of the town attests to the planning of urban construction in two distinct areas. The main city gate is in the upper town, protected by a 30 metre long bastion, there was a religious complex comprising an enclosure and four long rooms opening onto a courtyard. The discovery of a great number of storage jars in a building of this raised fortified area highlights, as observed on a number of sites, the development of the centralized management of resources and the emergence of political control. The lower city, in the southern part of the site, is an area of residential and domestic blocks surrounded by an organized transportation network.

4All these spatial transformations, which accompany the establishment of a real economy of goods and increased specialization in craft and agriculture production, heralded the development of a growing organisation of social and political hierarchy during the Early Bronze Age.

Figure II.14 — Main fortified settlement sites and open villages in Jordan during the Early Bronze Age.

Figure II.14 — Main fortified settlement sites and open villages in Jordan during the Early Bronze Age.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure II.14 — Main fortified settlement sites and open villages in Jordan during the Early Bronze Age.
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