I thought that because I like to write about topics in archaeology, I would devote a few posts to the various dating schemes used by archaeologists beginning with the Neolithic, the end of the Stone Age and just prior to the beginning of metallurgy in the Levant, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Mesopotamia. The worldwide beginning of the Neolithic culture is considered to be in the Levant (Jericho, modern-day West Bank) about 10,200–8,800 BC. It developed directly from the Natufian culture in the region, whose people pioneered the use of wild cereals, which then evolved into true farming and animal husbandry. The Metropolitan Museum has a beautiful collection from just this time period and location and I thought I would share. The Neolithic is known as the time humanity transitioned from hunter-gatherers to a more sedentary farming behavior. Several markers of this transition have proven to be more complicated than originally imagined. Pottery, a marker of sedentary life that produced relatively heavy objects is both older and younger than first imagined. Apparently ceramic objects were discovered and forgotten on multiple occasions in the period from 30,000 to 10,000 years BC. In fact, the Halif Culture in Syria and northern Mesopotamia only started making actual pottery around 5,500 BC. So the beginning of the Levant Neolithic Period began in the pre-pottery era. Another marker of sedentary life might be buildings. The evidence of temples built at Göbekli Tepe by hunter gatherers from at least 11,000 BC suggests that while the site formally belongs to the earliest Neolithic (PPNA), up to now no traces of domesticated plants or animals have been found. The inhabitants are assumed to have been hunters and gatherers who nevertheless lived in villages for at least part of the year. Probably the best indicator of the beginning of the Neolithic Period may be the use of grains to make bread although even that is blurred by Ohalo.
The Tomb of Meketre (translates to The Sun is my protection) in western Thebe was a high official during the reign of Mentuhotep II, Mentuhotep III, Mentuhotep IV and Amenemhat I which spanned the 11th and 12th Dynasties. He served as Overseer of the Six Great Law Courts, Treasurer and Chief Steward. He died during the early years of Amenemhat’s reign and was one of the last high-officials to be buried at Thebes before the royal court moved to Lisht. All the accessible rooms in the tomb of Meketre had been robbed and plundered during Antiquity; but early in 1920 the Museum’s excavator, Herbert Winlock, wanted to obtain an accurate floor plan of the tomb’s layout for his map of the Eleventh Dynasty necropolis at Thebes and, therefore, had his workmen clean out the accumulated debris. It was during this cleaning operation that the small hidden chamber was discovered, filled with twenty-four almost perfectly preserved models. Eventually, half of these went to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and the other half came to the Metropolitan Museum in the partition of finds.