The use of stone tools is largely considered to be one of the first technical achievements made by Man. While it is thought that throughout the early stone ages, people extracted stone is a disseminated and random manner, it is clear that this state of affairs changed towards the end of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Bronze age. At that time, industrial scale extraction of flint was conducted in quarries on the northern rim of the Jafr basin.
Surveys and studies by Quintro et al. (2002) show that numerous quarries were used over the entire area, some of which were quite large. Industrial scale chert extraction over 4500 ago seems to be quite an interesting issue, as it reflects not only technical sophistication, but wide spread cultural and trade links. It is obvious from the scale of the stone extracted that it was not intended for use by local inhabitants, but that this was a commodity which was used for trade.
Given this assumption, it would be extremely useful to be able to understand the nature of the stone extracted from the site, to determine identifying characteristics of this stone and to see how widely distributed it is away from it's source. From an extraction point of view, detailed mapping of some of the major quarries would give us insights into some of the techniques used to extract and treat the chert. Therefore, quarries will be well documented, and stratigraphic columns will be drawn to explain the vertical and lateral variations in the chert bands present in the outcrops of the area. Petrographic and geochemical studies will be done to identify unique characteristics by which this chert would be able to be identified away from it's source.
The chert seems to have been extracted from the Eocene Um Rijam chert limestone formation. In this formation, the predominant lithologies are bedded chert, chalk and hard limestone which produces a distinctive landform with steep slopes.
The formation begins as massive thickness of chalky limestone or marl, then repeated the sequence by chert and chalky limestone, chalk or hard limestone. The distinction between the Umm Rijam formation and the Amman Silcified limestone is that the ratio between chert to limestone in the later is very high, arrive to 1:1, whereas the ratio between chert and limestone in Umm Rijam don't reach to 1:10 (Abed, 2000). It is important to compare textural and geochemical compositions of cherts from the Amman formation and the Umm Rijam formation for the purpose of future provenance studies.
Text by Nizar Abu-Jaber
The site is included in work-package 1
Stone working area at Al Jafr quarries
Outcrop of the Um Rijam Formation
Chert bed within the Um Rijam Formation
December 2009 New book: a special volume with papers from the QuarryScapes project soon printed.
November 2008 Final workshop: the third QuarryScapes workshop was held in Aswan 12. - 15. October