A number of monumental lime plaster and reed statues dated to the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period have been discovered in Jordan, at the site of Ayn Ghazal. A total of 15 statues and 15 busts were discovered in 1983 and 1985 in two underground caches, created about 200 years apart.
Dating to between the mid-7th millennium BC and the mid-8th millennium BC, the statues are among the earliest large-scale representations of the human form, and are regarded to be one of the most remarkable specimens of prehistoric art from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period.
Although it is held that they represented the ancestors of those in the village, its purpose remains uncertain.
|Ayn Ghazal statues|
Closeup of one of the bicephalous statues.
|Material||plaster and reed|
|Created||c. 6500 BC - 7200 BC |
Ayn Ghazal, Amman, Jordan
|Present location||The Jordan Museum|
The figures are of two types, full statues and busts. Some of the busts are two-headed. Great effort was put into modelling the heads, with wide-open eyes and bitumen-outlined irises. The statues represent men, women and children; women are recognizable by features resembling breasts and slightly enlarged bellies, but neither male nor female sexual characteristics are emphasized, and none of the statues have genitals, the only part of the statue fashioned with any amount of detail being the faces.
The statues were formed by modelling moist plaster from limestone on a reed core using plants that grew along the banks of the Zarqa River. The reed decayed over the millennia, leaving plaster shells with a hollow interior. Lime plaster is formed by heating limestone to temperatures between 600 and 900 degrees celsius; the product, hydrated lime is then combined with water to make a dough, which was then modelled. Plaster becomes a water-resistant material when it dries and hardens. Heads, torsos and legs were formed from separate bundles of reeds which were then assembled and covered in plaster. The irises were outlined with bitumen and the heads were covered with some sort of wig.
They are comparatively tall, but not human-sized, the tallest statues having a height of close to 1 m. They are disproportionately flat, about 10 cm in thickness. They were nevertheless designed to stand up, probably anchored to the floor in enclosed areas and intended to be seen only from the front. The way the statues were made would not have permitted them to last long. And since they were buried in pristine condition it is possible that they were never on display for any extended period of time, but rather produced for the purpose of intentional burial.
The site of Ayn Ghazal was discovered in 1974 by developers who were building a highway connecting Amman to the city of Zarqa. Excavation began in 1982. The site was inhabited during ca. 7250–5000 BC. In its prime era, during the first half of the 7th millennium BC, the settlement extended over 10–15 hectares (25–37 ac) and was inhabited by ca. 3000 people.
The statues were discovered in 1983. While examining a cross section of earth in a path carved out by a bulldozer, archaeologists came across the edge of a large pit 2.5 meters (8 ft) under the surface containing plaster statues. Excavation led by Gary O. Rollefson took place in 1984/5, with a second set of excavation under the direction of Rollefson and Zeidan Kafafi during 1993–1996.
A total of 15 statues and 15 busts were found in two caches, which were separated by nearly 200 years. Because they were carefully deposited in pits dug into the floors of abandoned houses, they are remarkably well-preserved. Remains of similar statues found at Jericho and Nahal Hemar have survived only in fragmentary state.
The pit where the statues were found was carefully dug around, and the contents were placed in a wooden box filled with polyurethane foam for protection during shipping. The statues are made of plaster, which is fragile especially after being buried for so long. The first set of statues discovered at the site was sent to the Royal Archaeological Institute in Great Britain, while the second set, found a few years later, were sent to the Smithsonian Institution in New York for restoration work. The statues were returned to Jordan after their conservation and can be seen in the Jordan Museum.
They are largely held to represent the ancestors of those in the community, or variations on this theme. One can make the argument for this based on the similar treatment of the heads of these statues and the disarticulated and buried plastered skulls. The burial of the statues is also similar to the manner in which the people of Ain Ghazal buried their dead. However, what if these statues are not representations at all, but instead are enlivened objects themselves? What if they were buried in a similar manner to humans because they were thought to have died, or have lost their animate powers? These statues bring up equally many questions as answers, and for this reason will provide a rich site for future study.
Ayn Ghazal ('Ain Ghazal, ʿayn ġazāl عين غزال ) is a neolithic archaeological site located in metropolitan Amman, Jordan, about 2 km north-west of Amman Civil Airport.Amman
Amman (English: ; Arabic: عَمّان ʻammān pronounced [ʕamːaːn]) is the capital and most populous city of Jordan, and the country's economic, political and cultural centre. Situated in north-central Jordan, Amman is the administrative centre of the Amman Governorate. The city has a population of 4,007,526 and a land area of 1,680 square kilometres (648.7 square miles). Today, Amman is considered to be among the most modernized Arab cities. It is a major tourist destination in the region, particularly among Arab and European tourists.The earliest evidence of settlement in Amman is in a Neolithic site known as 'Ain Ghazal, where some of the oldest human statues ever found dating to 7250 BC were uncovered. During the Iron Age, the city was known as Ammon, home to the Kingdom of the Ammonites. It was named Philadelphia during its Greek and Roman periods, and was finally called Amman during the Islamic period. Abandoned for much of the medieval and post-medieval period, modern Amman dates to the late 19th century when Circassian immigrants were settled there by the Ottoman Empire in 1867. The first municipal council was established in 1909. Amman witnessed rapid growth after its designation as Jordan's capital in 1921, and after several successive waves of refugees: Palestinians in 1948 and 1967; Iraqis in 1990 and 2003; and Syrians since 2011. It was initially built on seven hills but now spans over 19 hills combining 27 districts, which are administered by the Greater Amman Municipality headed by its mayor Yousef Shawarbeh. Areas of Amman have gained their names from either the hills (Jabal) or the valleys (Wadi) they occupy, such as Jabal Lweibdeh and Wadi Abdoun. East Amman is predominantly filled with historic sites that frequently host cultural activities, while West Amman is more modern and serves as the economic center of the city.Approximately two million visitors arrived in Amman in 2014, which made it the 93rd most visited city in the world and the 5th most visited Arab city. Amman has a relatively fast growing economy, and it is ranked Beta− on the global city index. Moreover, it was named one of the Middle East and North Africa's best cities according to economic, labor, environmental, and socio-cultural factors. The city is among the most popular locations in the Arab world for multinational corporations to set up their regional offices, alongside Doha and only behind Dubai. It is expected that in the next 10 years these three cities will capture the largest share of multinational corporation activity in the region.Calcium
Calcium is a chemical element with symbol Ca and atomic number 20. As an alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties are most similar to its heavier homologues strontium and barium. It is the fifth most abundant element in Earth's crust and the third most abundant metal, after iron and aluminium. The most common calcium compound on Earth is calcium carbonate, found in limestone and the fossilised remnants of early sea life; gypsum, anhydrite, fluorite, and apatite are also sources of calcium. The name derives from Latin calx "lime", which was obtained from heating limestone.
Some calcium compounds were known to the ancients, though their chemistry was unknown until the seventeenth century. Pure calcium was isolated in 1808 via electrolysis of its oxide by Humphry Davy, who named the element. Calcium compounds are widely used in many industries: in foods and pharmaceuticals for calcium supplementation, in the paper industry as bleaches, as components in cement and electrical insulators, and in the manufacture of soaps. On the other hand, the metal in pure form has few applications due to its high reactivity; still, in small quantities it is often used as an alloying component in steelmaking, and sometimes, as a calcium–lead alloy, in making automotive batteries.
Calcium is the most abundant metal and the fifth-most abundant element in the human body. As electrolytes, calcium ions play a vital role in the physiological and biochemical processes of organisms and cells: in signal transduction pathways where they act as a second messenger; in neurotransmitter release from neurons; in contraction of all muscle cell types; as cofactors in many enzymes; and in fertilization. Calcium ions outside cells are important for maintaining the potential difference across excitable cell membranes as well as proper bone formation.History of Amman
Amman (English: ; Arabic: عمّان) is the capital and most populous city of Jordan, and the country's economic, political and cultural centre. Situated in north-west Jordan, Amman is the administrative centre of the Amman Governorate.
The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is a Neolithic site known as 'Ain Ghazal. Its successor was known as "Rabbath Ammon", which was the capital of the Ammonites, then as "Philadelphia", and finally as Amman. It was initially built on seven hills but now spans over 19 hills combining 27 districts, which are administered by the Greater Amman Municipality headed by its mayor Aqel Biltaji. Areas of Amman have either gained their names from the hills (Jabal) or valleys (Wadi) they lie on, such as Jabal Lweibdeh and Wadi Abdoun. East Amman is predominantly filled with historic sites that frequently host cultural activities, while West Amman is more modern and serves as the economic center of the city.Jordan
Jordan (Arabic: الْأُرْدُنّ Al-ʾUrdunn [al.ʔur.dunː]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnīyah Al-Hāshimīyah), is an Arab country in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel and Palestine (West Bank) to the west. The Dead Sea is located along its western borders and the country has a small coastline to the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city as well as the country's economic, political and cultural centre.What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The sovereign state is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.
Jordan is a relatively small, semi-arid, almost landlocked country with an area of 89,342 km2 (34,495 sq mi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan and coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an "oasis of stability" in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed by the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010. From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL. While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.Jordan is classified as a country of "high human development" with an "upper middle income" economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce. The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector. Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.Jordan Archaeological Museum
The Jordan Archaeological Museum is located in the Amman Citadel of Amman, Jordan. Built in 1951, it presents artifacts from archaeological sites in Jordan, dating from prehistoric times to the 15th century. The collections are arranged in chronological order and include items of everyday life such as flint, glass, metal and pottery objects, as well as more artistic items such as jewelry and statues. The museum also includes a coin collection.
The museum formerly housed some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the only copper scroll, which are now on display in the newly established Jordan Museum, along with the Ain Ghazal statues, which are among the oldest statues ever made by human civilization..Jordanian art
Jordanian art has a very ancient history. Some of the earliest figurines, found at Aïn Ghazal, near Amman, have been dated to the Neolithic period. A distinct Jordanian aesthetic in art and architecture emerged as part of a broader Islamic art tradition which flourished from the 7th-century. Traditional art and craft is vested in material culture including mosaics, ceramics, weaving, silver work, music, glass-blowing and calligraphy. The rise of colonialism in North Africa and the Middle East, led to a dilution of traditional aesthetics. In the early 20th-century, following the creation of the independent nation of Jordan, a contemporary Jordanian art movement emerged and began to search for a distinctly Jordanian art aesthetic that combined both tradition and contemporary art forms.Neolithic
The Neolithic ( (listen), also known as the "New Stone Age"), the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first development of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world.
The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago (4500 BC), marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world (including the New World) remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development, although this term may not be used, until European contact.
The Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.The term Neolithic derives from the Greek νέος néos, "new" and λίθος líthos, "stone", literally meaning "New Stone Age". The term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system.Pre-Islamic Arabia
The phrase Pre-Islamic Arabia refers to the Arabian Peninsula prior to Muhammad's preaching of Islam in the early 7th century CE.
Some of the settled communities developed into distinctive civilizations, and are limited to archaeological evidence, accounts written outside of Arabia and Arab oral traditions later recorded by Islamic scholars. Among the most prominent civilizations were the Thamud which arose around 3000 BCE and lasted to about 300 CE and Dilmun which arose around the end of the fourth millennium and lasted to about 600 CE. Additionally, from the beginning of the first millennium BCE, Southern Arabia was the home to a number of kingdoms such as the Sabaeans and Eastern Arabia was inhabited by Semitic speakers who presumably migrated from the southwest, such as the so-called Samad population. A few nodal points were controlled by Iranian Parthian and Sassanian colonists.
Pre-Islamic religion in Arabia included indigenous polytheistic beliefs, various forms of Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.The Jordan Museum
The Jordan Museum is located in Ras Al-Ein district of Amman, Jordan. Built in 2014, the museum is the largest museum in Jordan and hosts the country's most important archaeological findings.The museum presents artifacts from various prehistoric archaeological sites in Jordan, including the 7500 BC 'Ain Ghazal statues which are regarded as one of the oldest human statues ever made by human civilization.The collections in the museum are arranged in chronological order and also features lecture halls, outdoor exhibitions, a library, a conservation centre and an area for children's activities. The museum was established by a committee headed by Queen Rania, which became the only museum in Jordan to implement modern artifact preserving technologies.