Chalcolithic groundwater mining in the southern Levant: open, vertical shafts in the Late Chalcolithic central coastal plain settlement landscape of Israel

Edwin C.M. van den Brink*, Oren Ackermann, Yaakov Anker, Yeshua Dray, Gilad Itach, Eriola Jakoel, Reuven Kapul, Joel Roskin, Steve Weiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Levantine adaptive water subsistence and exploitative water management studies concerning late pre- and proto-history have intensified since 2000. This comes in the wake of findings concerning domestic water (e.g., groundwater wells and surface irrigation systems) in particular in the eastern Mediterranean basin. Excavations conducted over the last 15 years on Israel's central coastal plain revealed several clusters of anthropogenic, vertical, narrow, deep shafts, apparently disassociated from contemporary settlement or burial localities. The shafts were cut through local kurkar and/or hamra soils. Despite their seemingly isolated, open-space locations within the settlement landscape, the shaft fills yielded a rich, albeit secondary source of typical settlement waste, consisting mostly of discarded pottery vessels, chipped- and ground-stone tools, and faunal remains. All these remains date exclusively to within the Late Chalcolithic period (LC1), contemporary with and relatable to the Beer Sheva aspect of the period (c. 4200 cal BC-3900 cal BC). This paper reviews the current state of research vis à vis these shafts in the eastern Mediterranean basin, in an attempt to integrate the recently recorded phenomenon of Late Chalcolithic shaft clusters in Israel's central coastal plain, into the framework of artificial groundwater wells from the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic through the Late Chalcolithic periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-270
Number of pages35
JournalLevant
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Late Chalcolithic
  • aquiclude
  • cool storage
  • groundwater
  • shafts
  • underground storage
  • water management
  • wells

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