Geographical range Fertile Crescent
Period Neolithic
Dates c. 10200 – c. 8800 BCE
Type site El Khiam
Major sites Azraq, Abu Madi, Mureybet
Preceded by Natufian culture
Followed by Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
Map of Israel showing the typesite El Khiam that was occupied in the Khiamian (clickable map)
A shepherd with sheep on a mountainside. Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated by humankind; the domestication date is estimated to fall between nine and eleven thousand years ago in Mesopotamia.[1][2][3][4]
The Mesolithic
The Epipaleolithic
Mesolithic Europe
Epipaleolithic Europe
Fosna–Hensbacka culture
Komsa culture
Maglemosian culture
Lepenski vir culture
Kunda culture
Narva culture
Komornica culture
Swiderian culture
Epipaleolithic Transylvania
Mesolithic Transylvania
Schela Cladovei culture
Mesolithic Southeastern Europe
Levantine corridor
Stone Age

The Khiamian (also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam) is a period of the Near-Eastern Neolithic, marking the transition between the Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A. Some sources date it from about 10,000 to 9,500 BCE.[5] It currently dates between 10,200 and 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology.


The Khiamian owes its name to the site of El Khiam, situated on banks of the Dead Sea, where researchers have recovered the oldest chert arrows heads, with lateral notchs, the so-called "El Khiam points".[5] They have served to identify sites of this period, which are found in Israel, as well as in Jordan (Azraq), Sinai (Abu Madi), and to the north as far as the Middle Euphrates (Mureybet).

Aside from the appearance of El Khiam arrow heads, the Khiamian is placed in the continuity of the Natufian, without any major technical innovations. However, for the first time houses were built on the ground level itself, and not half below ground as was previously done. Otherwise, the bearers of the El Khiam culture were still hunter-gatherers, and agriculture at that time was then still rather primitive, based on what has been reported on sites of this period.[6] Newer discoveries show that in the Middle East and Anatolia some experiments with agriculture were being made by 10,900 BC.[7] and that there may already have been experimenting with wild grain processing by around 19,000 BC at Ohalo II.[8][9]

The Khiamien also sees a change occur in the symbolic aspects of culture, as evidenced by the appearance of small female statuettes, as well as by the burying of aurochs skulls. According to Jacques Cauvin, it is the beginning of the worship of the Woman and the Bull, as evidenced in the following periods of the Near-Eastern Neolithic.[10]


  1. Ensminger
  2. Weaver
  3. Simmons & Ekarius
  4. Krebs, Robert E. & Carolyn A. (2003). Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions & Discoveries of the Ancient World. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31342-3.
  5. 1 2 C. Calvet. 2007. Zivilisationen – wie die Kultur nach Sumer kam. Munich. p. 126.
  6. K. Schmidt. 2008. Sie bauten die ersten Tempel. Das rätselhafte Heiligtum der Steinzeitjäger. Munich. pp.283.
  7. Turneya, C.S.M. and H. Brown. 2007. "Catastrophic early Holocene sea level rise, human migration and the Neolithic transition in Europe." Quaternary Science Reviews 26: 2036–2041.
  8. Research pushes back history of crop development 10,000 years
  9. "Evidence for plant cultivation at 23,000-year-old site in Galilee". 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  10. J. Cauvin. 2000. The birth of the gods and the origins of agriculture. Cambridge. p. 25. Cf. C. Calvet. 2007. Zivilisationen – wie die Kultur nach Sumer kam. Munich. p. 127.
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