HK148b Aterian Hut Site, Har Karkom, Israel, Gallery 1 -- SE Sector
c. greater than 100,000 to 24,000 BP
Har Karkom site HK148b. To the south of site 86b a large round hut floor (9 m diameter). Finds include Aterian notched points and late Middle Palaeolithic flints (E. Anati at http://www.harkarkom.com/Hkcorpus100-199.php).
The Aterian is a later Middle Paleolithic culture of North Africa and the Near East. It is characterized by tanged and foliated points, Levallois and disc cores, flake scrapers, burins, and blades at late sites. Aterian dates include western desert of Egypt (Useries and TL) greater than 100,000 BP; Morocco (C14) greater than 40,000 and 23,700.
This Gallery 1 along with the next two galleries, Gallery 2 and Gallery 3, show photos of the hutfloor and objects that occur around the inner margin of the circular hutfloor. Most of these objects are clearly worked pieces of flint, presumably taken from the surrounding hammada or from the flint quarry adjacent to HK86b. Gallery 1 shows objects along the SE and S perimeter; Gallery 2, the west sector; and Gallery 3 the N and NE perimeter. On a drawing of the site ( Rowland Smith), the in situ location of 21 numbered artifacts. Clearly, as a surface site the dating the artifacts is not secure and site disturbance is possible.
Interpretation (James Harrod). This site is awesome both in its landscape and potential palaeoart finds. Some objects are clearly worked; others may be 'nature-facts', though apparently manuported to their present location. They appear to represent zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and geometric sculptures, apparently placed inside the perimeter of the hut. Tentative interpretations of 21 artifacts follow:
Gallery 1 -- SE and S perimeter
- Rhino. Rhino head; obverse, vaguely skull-like
- Dorcas gazelle (or possibly a roan antelope, scimitar-horned oryx, ibex or barbary sheep)
- Bear (?)
- Flying bird. Possibly intended as baboon head.
- Geometric (?). Rectangular solid
- Zoomorph, elephant (?)
Gallery 2 -- W sector
8. Female figurine, with geometric form; flint
9. Geometric, pentangular, shield-like, possibly female figurine, 'goddess'; limestone
10. Horse + hippo + elephant; flint
11. Geometric, roughly pentangular, or pointed with curved base, 'goddess'; flint
12a. Geometric, pentangular, shield-like, with point ('head'), possibly female figurine, 'goddess'; flint
12b. Geometric, rhomboid with pick-like point, possibly female figurine, 'goddess'; flint
13a. Elephant + hippo; flint
13b. Geometric, rhomboid, possibly elephant; flint
14. Geometric, pentagonal or hexagonal disc core or discoidal biface, possibly female figurine, 'goddess'; flint
Gallery 3 -- N and NE perimeter
15. Geometric, shield-like, possibly abstract female torso; flint
16a. Horse or wild ass + dorcas gazelle (maybe roan antelope, oryx, ibex or barbary sheep) + rhino head (?)
........+ vague shape like a human skull; flint
16b. Geometric, possibly female figurine, 'goddess'; flint
16c. Hippo; flint
16d. Horse or wild ass; flint
17. Indeterminate, very vague head of an animal, or rotating 90 degrees, suggestion of face, hood, holding up
........something, maybe mother and infant, or hands in prayer gesture; flint
There appears a tendency for female figurines to predominate in the western sector of the hutfloor and zoomorphs toward the eastern sides of the circle. While this pattern might be judged accidental or insignificant, I thank Kristina Berggren for noting that among present day Oromo-speaking Guji of Ethiopia, their hut design follows a similar kind of patterning. The space inside the hut is miniature universe, heaven and earth, that reinvigorates the soul and life. The ideal hut is oriented to the east and sunrise. The western sector of the hut is a separate area, called 'the uterus', reserved for the wife and female things, where the husband is forbidden to enter. Here may be found a female ceremonial stick, buried placenta from childbirths, pottery and utensils, grain and orzo in baskets and bags, and water containers. It is a space for washing, cosmetics and perfumes. The center of the hut is the hearth with four poles equidistant, like the pillars that hold up the sky. The right or north side of the hut is for males, the left or south side for females. At death corpses are buried accordingly (van de Loo, J. 1991. L'universo in miniatura. Nigrizia, ottobre: 68-69). Just like the ideal hut of the Guji, whose ancestors might have been Aterians, the HK148b Aterian hut has possibly 7 female figurines on its western side, with possibly 2 such figurines on the north side and none on the south side.
Photo © James Harrod; or as otherwise cited. All James Harrod site photos taken on Emmanuel Anati Har Karkom Expedition, April 1996.