Sickle construction technologies at Middle Chalcolithic Tel Tsaf, Jordan Valley, Israel

Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Katerina Barshay, Florian Klimscha, Yossi Garfinkel, Danny Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study combines typology and use-wear analysis applied to a large sample of flint sickle blades from Tel Tsaf, Jordan Valley, Israel, dated to the Middle Chalcolithic period (ca. 5200–4700 cal BC). The dominant backed, bi-truncated rectangle sickle blade, typical of the Chalcolithic period, was analyzed, revealing new types that are identified through shaping nuances which, based on the results of the use-wear analysis, are associated with different construction principles of the composite sickle. Considering that the archaeological record is scarce with evidence of the sickles themselves, the use-wear analysis provides detailed information, where a variety of techniques are defined, looking at the shape of the hafts, the positioning of the sickle inserts, and the method of using the adhesive material. A versatile system of sickle construction is introduced, where a range of hafting options is possible, in straight or curved hafts and with inserts positioned parallel or obliquely. But there are also particular types that were clearly designed in a special way, to fit unique types of sickles. Furthermore, the identification of post-use operations through breakage patterns also connects the Tel Tsaf sickles to activities identified in sickle blade workshops from other Late Chalcolithic sites, indicating that these were valued products that were repaired and re-shaped for subsequent use. We provide several lines of evidence, deriving from harvesting experiments, archaeological research of sickles and sickle blades, and by drawing on ethnography to explain the significance of these differences in sickles at Tel Tsaf. It is associated with varying harvesting techniques to deal with variations in field settings, types of sickle users, and intense consumption. Compared to the previous Late Pottery Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic sickle types, where sickle blades are different in shape, the analysis of the Tel Tsaf sickle blades presents a development in sickle harvesting technology and its complexity during this time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Flint sickle blades
  • Harvesting techniques
  • Jordan Valley
  • Middle Chalcolithic
  • Sickle construction technology
  • Tel Tsaf
  • Typology and production technology
  • Use-wear analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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