Sites & cities that bear the name of Bir Abu Matar

Bir Abu Matar

Today in : Israel
First trace of activity : ca. 4,200 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 4,000 B.C.E
Recorded names : Bir Abou Matar, Horvat Matar

Description : Bir Abu Matar is an archaeological site in the Valley of Beersheba that contains remains dated to the Chalcolithic period. It is located on the northern bank of the Beersheba Creek, on the southern outskirts of Beersheba in the Negev desert of southern Israel, at a location where water could probably have been obtained by digging wells. The culture discovered on this site and on a number of other sites in the Valley of Beersheba was named the Beersheba Culture. The settlements existed between c-4200 and c-4000 BC. The earth in this area is soft loess. One of the characteristics of the site, during the early phase of its settlement, was the construction of underground dwellings, dug in the earth. The site was first discovered and surveyed by David Alon, an Israeli archaeologist, in 1951. It was excavated by the French archaeologist, Jean Perrot, between 1951 and 1960. Rescue excavations were carried out in Bir Abu Matar in the 1980s and in the early 1990s. A small park was later built on top of the site, which is now situated at the southernmost edge of Na'veh Ze'ev borough, in Beersheba. The Beersheba Culture is thought to be a phase, or a subculture, of the Ghassulian Culture, though other Ghassulian sites in the Negev had been settled a couple of centuries before the Beersheba Culture appeared. The settlements discovered in Bir Abu Matar belong to the Chalcolithic period, Beersheba Culture, and can be divided into 3 distinct settlement phases, each with its own particular architecture: the earliest settlers built underground dwellings, dug in the soft loess. Later, when some of these homes collapsed - their ceilings had caved in - new, semi-underground houses were built on top of the old ones. In the 3rd and final phase the settlers built their homes completely above ground. During all phases, houses usually contained one large central room connected to up to 10 other rooms located around it. The population had never exceeded 200 people. Bir Abu Matar was part of a system of settlements that had economical connections with each other. In addition to subsistence farming, each settlement tended to specialize in one particular branch of industry: in Bir Tzafad it was ivory carving and in Bir Abu Matar - copper smelting and the production of copper instruments, artifacts and jewelry.

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