Gods, caves, and scholars: Chalcolithic cult and metallurgy in the Judean Desert

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The cultural interpretation of the southern Levant during the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4500-3700 cal B.C.E.) has been one of the most dynamic fields for nearly a century of archaeological research in this region. Since the discovery of Chalcolithic remains at Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan in the 1920s-30s, our understanding of Ghassulian culture (named after the site) has undergone numerous radical revolutions. Always highly-debated, its overall and internal chronology, social and economic configuration, settlement patterns, regionalization, cultic and religious manifestations, and technological innovations have all been subject to "extreme makeovers." The ever-growing accumulation of data has led to the rejection of the majority of the initial interpretations proposed by scholars in the 1950s and 1960s, with lively debates concerning major topics continuing from the 1980s up until today (for recent reviews and references, see Rowan and Golden 2009; Lovell and Rowan 2011: 1-11). Consequently, some of the major scholars of the period have repeatedly altered their views in an attempt to catch-up with the records. Above all, simplistic explanations and ungrounded theories of the past are now being met with skepticism in light of the obvious complexity depicted by the present state of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalNear Eastern Archaeology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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