The Chalcolithic Period in the Levant


The Chalcolithic Period in the Levant is that period between the late fifth and late fourth millennia BCE (approximately 4300 – 3300 BCE), during which human material culture consolidated on the advances of the Neolithic Period, utilising new metal technologies, in order to find expression in a variety of inter-related cultures trhoughout the region. Variety and innovation seem to be the by-words for the period, so much so that Ami Mazar [1990: 59ff] has aptly sub-titled the Chalcolithic period as “Innovative Communities of the Fourth Millennium”.

Periodisation and Terminology

The term ‘Chalcolithic’ (pronounced kælkol, meaning “copper-stone”) derives from the Greek χαλκος chalcos (‘copper’) and λίθος lithos (‘stone’) and was first coined in by to describe the period of development transitional from the use of stone tools to the use of metals. Outside of the “three age” system, positioned between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. As such, within the Levant the term designates that general period in which copper (Cu) – the first metal widely utilised by mankind – made its technological advent alongside the continuing extremely wide use of stone tools and implements.

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NB: Journal, serial and monograph abbreviations may be consulted on the Abbreviations page.

Algaze, G.

1993 The Uruk World System: The Dynamics of Expansion of Early Mesopotamian Civilization, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Alon, D.

1976 “Two Cult Vessels from Gilat”, Atiqot 11 (1976), pp.116-118.

1977 “A Chalcolithic Temple at Gilath”, BA 40 (1977), pp.63-65.

1988 “The Spatial Distribution of Chalcolithic Settlements in the Southern Shefelah”, in Urman, D. & Stern, E. (eds), Man and the Environment in the Southern Shefelah, Ramat gan: Massada, 1988, pp.66-73 (Hebrew).

Alon, D. & Levy, T.

1989 “The Archaeology of Cult and the Chalcolithic Sanctuary at Gilat”, JMA 2 (1989), pp.163-221.

Amiran, Ruth

1978 Early Arad: The Chalcolithic Settlement and Early Bronze City I – First Five Seasons of Excavations, 1962 – 1966, Jerusalem: IES, 1978.

Bourke, Stephen

2001 “The Chalcolithic Period”, in MacDonald, B., Adams, R. & Bienkowski, P. (eds), The Archaeology of Jordan, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001, pp.107-162.

2004 (et alii) “The End of the Chalcolithic Period in the South Jordan Valley: New 14C Determinations from Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan”, Radiocarbon 46.1 (2004), pp.315-323.

Braun, Eliot

2000 “Area G at Afridar, Palmahim Quarry 3 and the Earliest Pottery of Early Bronze I: Part of the ‘missing link'”, in Philip, G. & Baird, D. (eds), Ceramics and Change in the Early Bronze Age of the Southern Levant, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000, pp.113-128.

2001 “Proto, Early Dynastic Egypt and Early Bronze I-II of the Southern Levant: Some Uneasy 14C Correlations”, Radiocarbon 43.3 (2001), pp.1279-1296.

Bruins, H. & van der Plicht, J.

2001 “Radiocarbon challenges archaeo-historical time frameworks in the Near East: the Early Bronze Age of Jericho in relation to Egypt”, Radiocarbon 43.3 (2001), pp.1321-1332.

Dunand, M.

1973 Fouilles de Byblos Volume 5, Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve, 1973.

Eisenberg, E.

1989 “The Chalcolithic and Early Bronze I Occupations at Tell Teo”, in de Miroschedji, P. (ed.), L’urbanisation de la Palestine à l’âge du Bronze ancien: Bilan et perspectives des recherches actuelles, [British Archaeological Reports International Series 527] Oxford: BAR, 1988, pp.29-40.

Epstein, Claire

1977 “The Chalcolithic Culture of the Golan”, BA 40 (1977), pp.57-62.

1985 “Laden Animal Figures from the Chalcolithic Period in Palestine”, BASOR 258 (1988), pp.53-62.

1988 “Basalt Pillar Fugures from the Golan and Huleh Region”, IEJ 38 (1988), pp.205-223.

Gilead, I.

1988 “The Chalcolithic Period in the Levant”, Journal of World Prehistory 2 (1988), pp.397-443.

Hennessey, J. Basil

1969 “Preliminary Report on the First Season of Excavations at Teleilat Ghassul”, Levant 1 (1969), pp.1-24.

1982 “Teleilat Ghassul and its place in the Archaeology of Jordan”, in Hadidi, A. (ed.), Studies in the Archaeology and History of Jordan, Amman: Department of Antiquities, 1982, pp.55-58.

Joffe, A. & Dessel, J.-P.

1995 “Redefining Chronology and Terminology for the Chalcolithic of the Southern Levant”, Current Anthropology 36 (1995), pp.507-518.

Kerner, Susanne

2001 Das Chalkolithikum in der südlichen Levante: Die Entwicklung handwerklicher Spezialisierung und ihre Beziehung zu gesellschaftlicher Komplexität, [Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Orient-Abteilung Orient-Archäologie Band 8], Rahden / Westfalen: Verlag Marie Leidorf GmBH, 2001. [review: van den Brink, E.C.M., BASOR 330 (2003), pp.83-85.]

Levy, Thomas E.

1986 “Archaeological Sources for the Study of Palestine: the Chalcolithic Period”, BA 49 (1986), pp.82-108.

Moorey, P. Roger S.

1988 “The Chalcolithic Hoard from Nahal Mishmar, Israel, in Context”, World Archaeology 20 (1988), pp.171-189.

Prag, Kay

1978 “Silver in the Levant in the Fourth Millennium”, in Moorey, P.R.S. & Parr, P. (eds), Archaeology in the Levant – Essays for Kathleen Kenyon, Warminster: Aris & Philips, 1978, pp.36-45.

1986 “Byblos and Egypt in the Fourth Millennium BC”, Levant 28 (1986), pp.59-74.

Rosen, S.A.

1984 “The Adoption of Metallurgy in the Levant: A Lithic Perspective”, Current Anthropology 25 (1984), pp.504-505.

Ussishkin, David

1980 “The Ghassulian Shrine at En-Gedi”, Tel Aviv 7 (1980), pp.1-44.

Zori, N.

1958 “Neolithic and Chalcolithic Sites in the Valley of Beth Shan”, PEQ 90 (1958), pp.44-51.


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