Chalcolithic Period

People in Jordan discovered how to extract copper its ores around 5000 BC. At this early beginning, this extraction was not a mining activity but a surface collection. Copper was abundantly found in the Wadi Araba around Wadi Feynan and Aqaba area. 

From 5000 - 4500 BC, villages develop in the Jordan Valley. The Chalcolithic is a transition between the small villages of the Neolithic and the urban societies of the Bronze Age. The social groups start sharing their activities between the sedentary lifestyle and pastoralism. The agriculture expands rapidly and in parallel, the manufacturing of huge storage jars, as those we found in Abu Hamid (left photo). Beside cereals and vegetable, people grow trees, and especially the olives. We find the first evidence of the manufactures of dairy products. 

The society becomes more ranked, and we see the emergence of a sacerdotal class. The rituals develop, as testify the wall painting of Tuteilat Ghassul (photos below). This painting is the earliest known depiction of full-length human figures with decorated costumes and the earliest known scene of ritual procession.
exp. Jordan Museum
The deceased are no more buried in the vicinity of the dwellings, but outside of the inhabited zones: this is the emergence of the first cemeteries, which certifies of the strong increase of the population.

The settlement of the human groups in villages, the agricultural development, the population increase, the pastoralism in the upper lands, all those factors are responsible of the deforestation of the hillsides overlooking the Jordan Valley, which never could renew their vegetal cover since that time.

The dolmens are the only preserved remains of this period, but heavily threatened. Jordan has many dolmens, located on a line extending from North to South, and integrated in a wider network which expands from Turkey till Yemen. Dating the dolmen is difficult, but we estimate roughly that the oldest dolmens date back to the Chalcolithic and seem to be used till the end of the Bronze Age at least.

The dolmens are tombs or ritual places, that may have been built by nomadic groups coming on regular basis from the eastern steppes to the greener and more inhabited areas, for burying their deceased, performing rituals and probably exchange goods with the villagers. We can still see today some beautiful dolmens, especially in Madaba and Ma’in areas. Unfortunately, they are seriously threatened by the human activity. For more, click here.