Dating and Interpreting Desert Structures: The Enclosures of The Judean Desert, Southern Levant, Re-Evaluated



Enclosures, single large curvilinear structures, constitute ubiquitous relics of past human societies in marginal environments. Many enclosures suffer from severe scarcity of related artefactual and ecofactual remains, allowing only tentative assessments of their date and function. A case in point comes from the Judean Desert, Southern Levant, where several dozen enclosures were surveyed and described as Chalcolithic cult sites. Using new research strategies, incorporating critical evaluation of previous surveys, test excavations and optically stimulated luminescence dating, we were able to date enclosures to a much broader time span than previously suggested, and reject their proposed ritualistic function.