Early Neolithic Building in the Southern Levant: Building archaeology, Conservation and Presentation

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

The history of prehistoric building is often not considered to be relevant for the origins of “architecture”. But the early human building history tells a different story. First substantial buildings were emerging in the Near East during the so-called Epipalaeolithic. During the Neolithic period the architectural development shows important innovations, e.g. the discovery and use of the right angle and the use of activity floors placed on top of each other, influencing our building history and our understanding of architecture in general, forming the actual basics on which later architectural development could build upon; regardless building archaeological studies on Near Eastern Neolithic architecture are still rare.
In the last decades Neolithic architecture was mainly looked at from an archaeological point of view searching for models explaining economic and social developments in human societies. Architecture was used as an argument to support whatever hypothesis instead of being looked at as a primary source for construction history and related architectural issues in the first place. The PPN-architecture of a site is often explained by repetitive comparisons with “similar” architecture of neighbouring sites (“looks like”), without further reflections or discussion. Therefore this contribution will focus not only on general building principles during the PPN, but also investigate aspects of appearance, structure and construction from an architectural perspective.
Based on the (architectural) research carried out at the archaeological sites of Shkārat Msaied and Baʻja, both located in the Greater Petra-area in Jordan, the Pre-Pottery-Neolithic B (PPNB) architecture is analysed, interpreted and reconstructed using archaeological and building archaeological methods. The identified concepts, members and elements are set into context with results from other Neolithic sites in the region making it possible to understand the impact of emerging building traditions for the building history in general. Though some buildings have very distinct functions it is still very hard to distinguish between domestic, non-domestic, communal or ritual functions. Even if the architecture has some common “standard codes”, each site shows various individual approaches to adapt to its environment and topographical setting.
Along structural and functional aspects, the contribution will touch on aspects of the building process and of knowledge transfer of building technologies. Best practice for conservation and presentation strategies for Neolithic remains will be discussed based on the current fieldwork at Shkārat Msaied executed in cooperation between the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Carsten Niebuhr Centre for Multicultural Heritage at the University of Copenhagen.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2015
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015
Duration: 3 Jun 20157 Jun 2015


CountryUnited States

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Building archaeology, ; Recording, preservation and conservation, Building materials, their history, production and use, Use of construction history for dating of historic fabric, Building techniques in response to their environments, Neolithic, Prehistory, Near Eastern Archaeology, Neolithic Architecture

ID: 123343712