The aims of this first CARE Project are a comprehensive study of the child’s burial (1), the reconstruction of the child’s necklace and of the grave (2) as well as its multi-media documentation and presentation in a Jordanian museum (3) in order to demonstrate the high relevance of the Neolithic for humanity.
1) Scientific Investigations
a) Reconstruction of the burial construction and ritual according to excavation documentation and results of scientific analyses (Dr. Marion Benz, Dr. Hans Georg K. Gebel, Ba`ja Project, ex oriente e.V. and Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology, Free University Berlin).
b) Identification of raw materials of the necklace by non-invasive X-ray fluorescence analyses (Melissa Gerlitzki M.A., Dr. Manfred Martin, State Department of Geology, Raw Materials and Mining, Freiburg). Shells, minerals and stones, that were used for the jewellery, can provide important evidence for exchange networks during the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. Thanks to former comprehensive surveys a very good database is available for the location of sources and comparison (A. Hauptmann 2009).
c) Reconstruction of the necklace: Since most beads were found in situ an authentic reconstruction was possible. Head of the scientific analyses of the ornaments and of the reconstruction is Dr. Hala Alarashi, CEPAM, Nice. She is specialized in Near Eastern Neolithic ornaments (Alarashi 2014, 2016; Alarashi et al. 2018). (Fig. 3)
d) Anthropological analyses, that are coordinated by Dr. Julia Gresky of the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin, comprise: a-DNA analyses (Dr. Wolfgang Haak, MPI for the Science of Human History, Jena), strontium/oxygen-isotopes to determine mobility patterns and provenience (Dr. Corinna Knipper; CEZ Mannheim), further stable isotope analyses (C/N) for the reconstruction of the diet (Dr. Sandra Lösch, Institute of Forensic Medicine, Bern, Switzerland) as well as morphological and histological analyses for the determination of age, sex, and pathologies (Dr. Julia Gresky, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin). Taphonomic investigations might provide further information on the burial ritual (Dr. Scott Haddow, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Copenhagen).
Fig. 3 A matter of patience: the necklace was reconstructed as authentic as possible based on the detailled excavation documentation. (Photo: M. Benz)
2) Conservation and Reconstruction of the Grave
The grave will be reconstructed in cooperation with Dr. Hussein al-Sababha, Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology from the Yarmouk University of Irbid, Jordan. The constructional elements of the grave were transferred to the Old Petra Museum in cooperation with conservator Martin Bader from the Swiss National Museum of Zurich and Julia Graf in April 2019 (Fig. 4). The most fragile and damaged beads and the mother-of-pearl ring were treated in the conservation laboratory of the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design by Alice Costes, B.A., in the frame of her Masterclass (Dr. Dipl.-Rest. Andrea Fischer) (Fig. 5). The final object was 3-D scanned for a 3-D-model to be integrated in the digital presentation by Norbert Spichtig, Department of Archaeological Research of the City of Basle, Switzerland (Fig. 6). The restored object will be handed over to the Department of Antiquities in Jordan.
Fig. 4 Preparing the constructional parts from the burial for the transfer to the museum. (Photo: M. Benz)
Fig. 5 Scientific analyses are indispensible before conservation. (Photo: M. Benz)
Fig. 6 3-D Scanning of the reconstructed necklace by N. Spichtig, Depart. of Archaeological Research of the City of Basle. (Photo: H. Alarashi)
3) Presentation of the burial and its environments
Besides the reconstruction of the grave, a virtual presentation of the Neolithic settlement and environment will be on display in the museum. College students of an Art Course (A-level) from the Goethe Gymnasium Emmendingen, Germany, drew a scene of the burial ritual and of the environment (directed by Dr. Ariane Wild and Stefano Marino; scientific support Dr. Marion Benz) (Fig. 7). To draw attention to future professions in archaeology the students visited laboratories of our cooperation partners and the Art Atelier “Bunter Hund” in Zurich, which is specialized on archaeological drawings and the IPNA of the Basle University. Many thanks to all those who made the Archaeology-meets-School Project possible!
The digitalization of the drawing will be realized by the High School of Media, Stuttgart. The drawing will be displayed on a 65“ touchscreen. Characteristic objects in the picture will serve as touch points and provide additional information by clicking on them, such as photos from the excavation, specific data on the objects, etc.
The reconstruction and presentation of the outstanding child burial from Ba`ja in the frame of the CARE Project (Fig. 8) does not only rescue a discovery of international importance, but it also permits access to Neolithic cultural heritage on various levels: It sensitizes the local public and tourists for the relevance of the prehistoric past. The cooperation with the students meant for them a new experience of alterity and broadened their horizon: They had to imagine life in a different period, in a different culture and environment. Thanks to the international cooperation, CARE creates mutual understanding about our common past and thus enhances networking that transgresses cultural and national borders. Farming and sedentism started in the Near East, but the Neolithic communities changed the world forever and we all still bear the consequences like overpopulation, commodification of almost everything, and increasing social differentiation. Neither living in state communities nor in mega-cities would have been possible without Neolithisation.