The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (short PPNA) represents the early neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. During this time, pottery was yet unknown and domestication of plants and animals was in its beginnings.


Type site

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine). They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian ).


10.200-9.200 BP (uncalibrated) in the climatic phase Dryas II (arid climate).


There is evidence for the use of wheat, barley and legumes from carbonized seeds, but whether these seeds were collected, planted or even brought into the settlements as part of animal dung used for fuel remains the subject of debate. Sickle-blades and grinding stones certainly indicate the use of cereals. Some scholars speak of a 'agriculture prédomestique'.



El Khiam point, schematic drawing

The settlements consist of round semi-subterranean houses with stone foundations and terrazzo-floors. The superstructures were constructed of unbaked mudbricks with plano-convex cross-sections. The hearths were small and covered with cobbles. Heated rocks were used in cooking, which led to an accumulation of fire-cracked rock in the buildings. Almost every settlement contains storage bins made either stones or mud-brick. The sites are much larger than in the preceding Natufian and contain traces of communal structures, like the famous wall of Jericho, probably built against floods.


The lithic industry is based on blades struck from regular cores. Sickle-blades and arrow heads continue traditions from the late Natufian culture, transverse-blow axes and polished adzes appear for the first time.

Regional variants

With more sites becoming known, the archaeologists have defined a number of regional variants:

  • 'Sultanien' in the Jordan valley and southern Levant with the type site of Jerich. Other sites include Netiv Hagdud , El-Khiam, Hatoula and Nahal Oren .


Aswad-point, schematic drawing
  • 'Mureybetian' in the Northern Levant. Defined by the finds from Mureybet IIIA, IIIB, typical: Helwan points , sickle-blades with base amenagée or short stem and terminal retouch. Other sites include Sheyk Hasan and Jerf el-Ahmar.
  • 'Aswadien' in the Damascus Basin. Defined by finds from Tell Aswad IA. Typical: bipolar cores, big sickle blades, Aswad-points .
  • sites in 'Upper Mesopotamia' include Cayönü and Göbekli Tepe.

Further reading

  • O. Bar-Yosef, The PPNA in the Levant – an overview. Paléorient 15/1, 1989, 57-63.
  • J. Cauvin, The birth of the Gods and the origins of agriculture (Cambridge 1994).
Last updated: 05-12-2005 20:19:46
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04