Lapidary technology revealed by functional analysis of carnelian beads from the early Neolithic site of Nahal Hemar Cave, southern Levant

Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Daniella E. Bar-Yosef Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Use-wear analysis applied to two carnelian beads from Nahal Hemar Cave, southern Israel, and dated to the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, revealed a manufacturing procedure that corresponds to genuine lapidary technologies of contemporary traditional societies. Based on ethnographic observations combined with experiments in working carnelian, wear patterns were interpreted to be produced by a multi-stage manufacturing sequence that includes abrasion against varying abrasion surfaces, drilling probably with a splinter drill equipped into a rod and finally, tumbling. These beads are one of the earliest examples of carnelian beads and thus represent a lapidary technology with roots from over 9000 years ago.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ofer Bar-Yosef (Harvard University), Debby Hershman (Israel Museum), and Orit Shamir and Natalia Gubenko (Israel Antiquities Authority) for making the stone beads of Nahal Hemar Cave available for this study. We also thank Naomi Porat (Geological Survey of Israel) for identification of the raw material and Vitaly Gutkin (The Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) for SEM analyses. Thanks go to the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and The Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa for use of their microscopes and to Leore Grosman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) for her assistance. We thank Nigel Goring-Morris for allowing the use of his Near East basemap. We also want to thank Roee Shafir and Jonathan Gottleib for technical advice and support and Reuven Kapul for his assistance in the experimental program. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 62/05 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Abrasion
  • Carnelian beads
  • Lapidary
  • Nahal hemar cave
  • Polishing
  • Pre-pottery neolithic B period
  • Splinter drill
  • Tumbling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


Dive into the research topics of 'Lapidary technology revealed by functional analysis of carnelian beads from the early Neolithic site of Nahal Hemar Cave, southern Levant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this