Archaeozoology of the Near East by Mark Beech and Marjan Mashkour by Mark Beech and Marjan Mashkour - Read Online

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Foreword: Introduction to ASWA

The Archaeozoology of the Southwestern Asia and Adjacent Areas research group, known as ASWA, was founded in 1990 during the VIth International Council for Archaeozoology – ICAZ congress at Washington DC in the United States. This group was created because of the growing number of archaeozoologists working in the Near and Middle East. Archaeozoology (also called zooarchaeology) is the study of the relationships between humans and non-human animals over time. It usually involves the study of animal remains (often called faunal remains) from archaeological sites.

The aim of creating the ASWA working group was to promote communications between researchers working on the faunal material of the Near and Middle East, as well as neighbouring spheres. These specialists often have common similar and complementary methodological research questions in relation to the different cultures that settled and succeeded in the region.

The ASWA group does not propose any particular theme for the meeting since it echoes on-going research in the specific field of archaeozoology and man–animal relationships (anthropozoology). The papers collected here cover a geographic area from India to the Balkans and from north Africa to the Caucasus, with the Near and Middle East as the central focus region. Chronologically they span from the Palaeolithic to pre-modern times.

Archaeozoological studies in the Near and Middle East have examined a number of themes of interest such as: the implication of faunal studies in the reconstitution of landscapes, climates and past environments, the identification and description of species and their variety in time and space, an understanding of animal domestication, analysing ancient food economies, hunting strategies and the socio-cultural aspects of faunal exploitation by past societies.

The first ASWA meeting was held in June 1992 at Groningen in the Netherlands uniting 37 specialists. The proceedings were published the next year, and since that time the ASWA group has met on a regular basis every 2 years, once in a European country and when possible once in an Eastern European or Near/Middle Eastern country. The publication of papers presented at ASWA meetings is generally taken in charge by the editorial house ARC in Groningen.

The success of these meetings and the important work of these specialists is demonstrated by the fact that during the course of the past 14 years there has been no gap in these meetings and in their subsequent publication (see below for details). Moreover, internationally, the ASWA group has mirrored the major advances in research on Near and Middle Eastern archaeozoology.

Between 30 and 70 specialists from 14 different countries of the region usually gather to attend ASWA meetings. One of the most important aims of these meetings is to encourage scholars from developing countries, students and young researchers to participate in these meetings. It is the duty of the organisers to find funding for helping partially or totally funding these latter mentioned researchers.

ASWA working group meetings

1st ASWA: Groningen, Netherlands (organized by Hijlke Buitenhuis & A.T. Clason), June 1992.

2nd ASWA: Tübingen, Germany (Hans-Peter & Margarethe Uerpmann), September 1994.

3rd ASWA: Budapest, Hungary (Laszlo Bartosiewicz & Alice Choyke), September 1996.

4th ASWA: Paris, France (Marjan Mashkour & François Poplin), June 1998.

5th ASWA: Irbid, Jordan (Abdel Halim al-Shiyab), April 2000.

6th ASWA: London, England (Louise Martin), August 2002.

7th ASWA: Ankara, Turkey (Evangelia Piskin Ioannidou), June 2004.

8th ASWA: Lyon, France (Emmanuelle Vila & Lionel Gourichon), June 2006.

9th ASWA: Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (Marjan Mashkour & Mark Beech), November 2008.

10th ASWA: Brussels, Belgium (Beatrice De Cupere, Veerle Linseele, Wim Van Neer), June 2011.

11th ASWA: Tel Aviv, Israel (Irit Zohar & Guy Bar-Oz), June 2013.

12th ASWA: Groningen, Netherlands (Canan Cakirlar, Rémi Berthon & Jwana Chahoud), June 2015.

Publications of the ASWA working group (in chronologcal order)

Buitenhuis, H. & Clason, A. T. (eds). 1993. Archaeozoology of the Near East. Universal Book Services/Dr W. Backhuys, Leiden.

Buitenhuis, H. & Uerpmann, H.-P. (eds). 1995. Archaeozoology of the Near East II. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden.

Buitenhuis, H., Bartosiewicz, L. & Choyke, A. M. (eds). 1998. Archaeozoology of the Near East III. ARC Publication 18, Center for Archeological Research and Consultancy, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands.

Mashkour, M., Buitenhuis, H., Choyke, A. M. & Poplin, F. (eds). 2000. Archaeozoology of the Near East IV. ARC Publication 32, Center for Archeological Research and Consultancy, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands.

Buitenhuis, H., Choyke, A. M., Mashkour, M. & Al-Shiyab, A. H. (eds). 2002. Archaeozoology of the Near East V. ARC Publication 62, Center for Archeological Research and Consultancy, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands.

Buitenhuis, H., Choyke, A. M., Martin, L., Bartosiewicz, L. & Mashkour, M. (eds). 2005. Archaeozoology of the Near East VI. ARC Publication 123, Center for Archeological Research and Consultancy, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands.

Vila, E., Gourichon, L., Choyke, A. M. & Buitenhuis, H. (eds). 2008. Archaeozoology of the near East VIII. Travaux de la Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée 49, Lyon.

De Cupere, B., Linseele, V. & Hamilton-Dyer, S (eds). 2013. Proceedings of the 10th Meeting of the ICAZ Working Group ‘Archaeozoology of southwest Asia and adjacent Areas’. Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement Series 44. Peeters Publishing, Leuven.

Mashkour, M. & Beech, M. J. (eds). 2015. Archaeozoology of the Near East IX. Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium on the Archaeozoology of South-Western Asia and Adjacent Areas. Oxbow Books, Oxford.

Why Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates?

Abu Dhabi is fast becoming the cultural centre of the region, and the former Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), now known as the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), is playing an important role in promoting national culture and identity. Abu Dhabi today hosts many important international meetings, making a vital contribution towards research on the culture of the Middle East. The only previous ASWA meeting to be held in south-west Asia was that which took place in Jordan in 2000. It therefore seemed an opportune moment to hold such an event.

Why Al Ain?

Al Ain is one of the richest archaeological regions of the United Arab Emirates, being located on the edge of the great Empty Quarter or Rub Al-Khali Desert and the mountains of the Oman peninsula. The Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and the Oases Areas) in 2011 became the first UNESCO World Heritage site to be established within the United Arab Emirates. The sites constitute a serial property that testifies to sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period with vestiges of many prehistoric cultures. Remarkable vestiges in the property include circular stone tombs (ca. 2500 BC), wells and a wide range of adobe constructions: residential buildings, towers, palaces and administrative buildings. Hili moreover features one of the oldest examples of the sophisticated aflaj irrigation system, which dates back to the Iron Age. The property provides important testimony to the transition of cultures in the region from hunting and gathering to sedentarisation.

It is therefore a very appropriate place to organise such a conference. The city is home to the only Federal university in the UAE, the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). It also houses an important archaeological museum and many historic forts and buildings. The city of Al Ain is located in an exceptional landscape. From the Mercure Hotel, located on the summit of the mountain Jebel Hafit, where the conference will take place, the magnificent desert and its surroundings can be admired. Excursions to different destinations in the immediate proximity of Al-Ain or to other Emirates can easily be organised via various tourist companies. Al-Ain has a long history of involvement with nature conservation in terms of preservation of the unique oasis environments, and their surrounding desert areas. Al Ain zoo houses an important collection of rare Arabian animals including Arabian oryx and gazelle.

Honouring two pioneers of Archaeozoological research

Two important personalities in the field of Archaeozoology were honoured at the 9th ASWA meeting, Professor Hans-Peter Uerpmann (Germany) and Dr François Poplin (France). These are both pioneers in the discipline of Archaeozoology. Both have worked in the United Arab Emirates or on material coming from this region.

Hans-Peter Uerpmann (University of Tübingen, Germany) is a specialist of animal domestication. His research has focused on the Northern Emirates and Oman and on the investigation of prehistoric economies and environments, including the archaeology of the dromedary camel.

François Poplin (Natural History Museum of Paris, France) is the founder of anthropozoology and a specialist of hard animal material (bone, teeth and ivory). He is particularly interested in man–animal symbolic relationships through the production of artistic objects made of dugong, rhinoceros and elephant ivory.

Conference programme

Following the papers given on the first day, we were kindly hosted for dinner by Mohammed Amer Al-Neyadi (Director of the Historic Environment Department at the former ADACH, now known as TCA Abu Dhabi) at the Al Ain Palace Museum. All the conference delegates enjoyed a traditional Arabian buffet style feast sitting outside in the courtyard of the old palace where the late President of the UAE had once lived. After three days of conference papers and poster presentations, the concluding conference dinner took place at Al Ain Zoo. A sumptuous Arabian banquet was held in the open air, right next to the enclosure holding the Arabian oryx and gazelle. Live oud music provided a charming and atmospheric finale to the conference.

During the conference several visits and excursions were organised to the Al Ain National Museum and Al Ain Palace Museum, to the Oases around the city and a one-day excursion to the Hili Archaeological Park and Mezyad Hafit tombs at Jebel Hafit. This was followed by a visit to the Sharjah Archaeology Museum and the Arabian Wildlife Centre in Sharjah. The excursion concluded on the way back to Al Ain by stopping for a desert walk just before sunset in the sand dune area at the south of the Al Madam plain, where some delegates could not resist collecting some modern camel bones they discovered between the dunes!

A total of 51 delegates including European (France, England, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Romania), North American, and south-west Asian countries (UAE, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Palestine), and Japan participated in the 9th ASWA conference in Al Ain. The papers delivered at the conference covered a wide geographic from Central Asia, the Near East, Caucasus, and Arabia to Egypt. The topics of the conference included Hunter-gatherers subsistence, domestication, herd mobility, animals in rituals, bone industry with the integration of new analytical techniques such as stable isotopes.

More than 70 persons attended the conference. These included representatives from the former Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (now known as the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority), United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University, and Emirates Natural History Group.

The proceedings of the conference

The present volume includes 31 papers. Following a foreword by the official authorities in Abu Dhabi, there are tributes to two pioneering researchers in Archaeozoology. Nicolas Conard (University of Tübingen) writes a foreword in honour of Hans-Peter Uerpmann and his contribution to the Archaeozoology of the Near East. Christine Lefèvre (Natural History Museum of Paris) then writes a tribute concerning the contribution of François Poplin to Archaeozoological studies. The following major themes were discussed during the conference: Palaeolithic and Neolithic Subsistence in Northern Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Iranian Plateau; Caucasian Zooarchaeology; Animal Exploitation on Urban Sites During the Bronze Age; Pastoralism, Nomadism and Mobility; Exploitation of Animals in the Arabian Peninsula; Rituals and Animal Deposits and finally – Animal Exploitation During Antiquity.


The ASWA conference in Al Ain could have not taken place without the help and support of the following people: the late H. E. Mohammad Khalaf al Mazrouei (former Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage – ADACH), H. E. Zaki Nusseibeh (former Deputy Chairman of ADACH), and Dr Sami El Masri (Deputy Director-General of ADACH), as well as Mohammad Amer Al-Neyadi (Director of the Historic Environment Department at ADACH). The following personnel from the Historic Environment Department at ADACH should also be thanked for their contribution: Jaber Al-Merri, Mohammed Matar Al-Dhaheri, Tariq Al Baloushi, Mohammed Al Harmoudi, Hamdan Al-Rashidi, Ali Al-Meqbali, Ahmed El-Haj and Dia’eddin Tawalbeh.

The ASWA conference was sponsored by Service de Cooperation et d’Action Culturelle (SCAC) at the French Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Bank of Sharjah. Special thanks are due to Didier Gazagnadou and to Varouj Nerguizian. Our thanks go also to the Mercure Hotel – Jebel Hafit and the Thales group that sponsored the conference.

Thanks go to Dr Anjana Reddy Lingareddy for her unstinting patience and hard work in dealing with a lot of the administration and daily duties during the conference and field trip. Anjana also assisted with a lot of the copy editing of papers in this volume.

We would like to thank and acknowledge the work and assistance of our many research colleagues who assisted with the reviewing of all the papers in this volume.

Also, thanks go to Oxbow Books, and in particular to Sarah Ommanney, Julie Gardiner, Mette Bundgaard and Clare Litt for their patience and diligence in dealing with the publication of this volume. Finally, thanks to Julie Blackmore of Frabjous Books for the typesetting services provided.

Marjan Mashkour and Mark J. Beech

Foreword: Introduction to ASWA

Mohamed Al-Neyadi

Director of the Historic Environment Department at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage

Ladies and Gentlemen

Building upon its strategy of protecting and promoting cultural heritage, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) is proceeding with the implementation of a number of current and future projects. These concern the organisation and development of the means necessary to oversee archaeological restoration, survey and exploration in accordance with scientific methods based on approved global standards.

This strategy has resulted in the achievement of a variety of the Authority’s objectives, including the discovery of many new archaeological sites in a short period of time. Examples include new discoveries at the fossil site at Ruwais in the Western Region, which dates back to the late Miocene Period 6–8 million years ago, as well as previously unknown Neolithic sites dating back to over 7000 years ago.

In cooperation with museums and international bodies concerned with natural history, important discoveries have continued, finding new sites dating back to ancient periods in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This was done through surveys conducted by local and international teams of experts from the Historic Environment Department at ADACH, particularly on sites in the Western Region, dating back as far as 200,000 years. This takes the earliest history of Abu Dhabi back to the Palaeolithic rather than the Neolithic as was originally thought.

Given the importance of these discoveries, ADACH has contributed to research papers in Arab and international seminars. It also organises many seminars and workshops on prehistoric technology, and on scientific methods in archaeology. All this is in keeping with the desire of ADACH to develop the skills of its archaeologists, researchers and museum workers.

We are pleased to meet you today on the occasion of the 9th meeting of the Archaeozoology of Southwest Asia and Adjacent Areas (ASWAaa), discussing projects that examine past relationships between humans and animals through study of the remains of animals at archaeological sites, giving us a deeper understanding of ancient environments.

I am pleased to extend my sincere thanks to all the sponsors of the meeting: the French Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Bank of Sharjah, Dassault Aviation, Mercure Grand Hotel Al Ain, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

We would also like to thank representatives of the media for their role in highlighting the great importance of preserving the heritage of the United Arab Emirates, and the efforts of the Authority and its quest to build local expertise to develop, maintain and research heritage.

Speech of 16 November 2008


Didier Gazagnadou

Professor of anthropology at University Paris VIII, Cooperation and cultural action counsellor French Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (2007–2010)

When the project of organising an international archaeozoology colloquium in al-‘Aïn was presented to the Service of Cooperation and Cultural Action (SCAC) of the French Embassy by Dr M. Beech (Abu Dabi Authority for Culture and Heritage – ADACH-EAU) and Dr M. Mashkour (CNRS-MNHN-FRANCE), it was with pleasure that I accepted to engage the participation of the cultural service in organising this event.

Archaeological research involves a cultural, historic, political and diplomatic dimension. Indeed, archaeological research and discoveries add depth to the history and the culture of a country. For this reason, the United Arab Emirates, who only became independent recently, encourage all activity leading to a greater understanding of the past in this region. Therefore, archaeological research in general and French research in particular, has always benefited from the support of the cultural and political Emirate authorities. Thus, M. Mohamed Khalaf al-Mazroui (Director-General of the ADACH) replied favourably to my request for support and collaboration for the organisation of this international colloquium within a week.

French archaeological research began with the excavations and the major discoveries at al-‘Aïn, led by Professor Serge Cleuziou. Today, this research is well-established in the United Arab Emirates and continues in the Sharjah, Fujeira, Ajman and Ras al Khaimah Emirates.

This colloquium is the second international ASWA (Archaezoology of Southwest Asia and Adjacent areas – ICAZ International Council for Archeozoology) archaeology colloquium to be organised in an ASWA zone, bringing together researchers from very different countries: the United Arab Emirates of course, but also Armenia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, the United States of America, Europe and Japan.

From a scientific point of view, this colloquium has helped to reveal new discoveries, to raise new questions and to rectify certain hypothesis. As an anthropologist working in the region, I was particularly interested in the papers concerning the dromedary site in the Ruwais region and the dromedary remains in the Sharjah Emirate, as they are directly related to the history of the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula. These articles raise the important question of the domestication of the dromedary in Arabia, a pivotal issue for the history of nomadism, the structure of Bedouin society and commerce in the Arabian Peninsula before and after Islam. The history of the Arabic peninsula and the région cannot be separated from the history of the dromedary domestication.

This international colloquium will also have contributed to reinforcing cooperation and friendship between France and the United Arab Emirates, as well as encouraging ongoing research in the Middle East and in southwest Asia. This colloquium also led to the publication of a scientific volume accessible to researchers in the Emirates and the rest of the world. This type of cooperation is essential for weaving links between people and produces useful archaeological and scientific material; some of which will shortly be exhibited in the new Louvre Abu Dhabi and Cheikh Zayed National Museum.

I wish to express my thanks to Mohamed Khalaf al-Mazroui, Ex-Director-General of the ADACH, Zaki Nusseibeh, Ex-Vice-President of the ADACH, Mohamed Niyadi, Representative of the ADACH (currently TCA Abu Dhabi) in al-‘Aïn and Patrice Paoli, French Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, for supporting the colloquium project, and without whom this venture would not have been possible.

I would also like to thank all the staff of the Cooperation and Cultural Action Service of the French Embassy who contributed to the success of this colloquium: Mr Jean-Philippe Rot, secretary of the SCAC, Ms Ondine Diakhaté and Aurélie Cousergues, responsible for the mission, as well as Ms Ingrid Jouette-Nagati, French cooperation attaché.

Thanks are also due to the companies who kindly accepted to sponsor this colloquium, and in particular to Mr Varouj Nerguissian, Director of the Sharjah Bank, who made a significant and decisive contribution, but also to Dassault, Thalès and the al-‘Aïn Mercury Hotel.

Paris, October, 19, 2012

Quand le projet d’organiser un colloque international d’archéozoologie à al-‘Aïn a été proposé au Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle (SCAC) de l’Ambassade de France par le Dr. M. Beech (Abu Dabi Authority for Culture and Heritage – ADACH-EAU) et le Dr. M. Mashkour (CNRS-MNHN-FRANCE), c’est bien volontiers que j’ai accepté d’engager le service culturel à participer à l’organisation de cet évènement.

Il y a dans la recherche archéologique une dimension culturelle, historique, politique et diplomatique. En effet, les recherches et découvertes archéologiques donnent une profondeur à l’histoire et à culture d’un pays. C’est pourquoi les autorités des Emirats Arabes Unis, dont l’indépendance est récente, encouragent tout ce qui permet de comprendre le passé de cette région. Pour ces raisons, les recherches archéologiques, françaises en particulier, ont toujours bénéficier du soutien des autorités culturelles et politiques émiriennes. Ainsi, M. Mohamed Khalaf al-Mazroui (Directeur Général de l’ADACH) avait répondu favorablement en huit jours à ma demande de soutien et de collaboration pour l’organisation de ce colloque international.

La mission archéologique française aux Emirats Arabes Uni est ancienne et a commencé ses fouilles sous la direction de feu le Professeur Serge Cleuziou qui a fait d’importantes découvertes à al-‘Aïn. Elle poursuit aujourd’hui encore ses travaux dans les Emirats de Sharjah, de Fujeira, d’Ajman et de Ras al Khaimah.

Mais ce colloque avait une originalité, celle d’être le premier colloque international d’archéozoologie d’ASWA (Archaezoology of Southwest Asia and Adjacent areas – ICAZ International Council for Archeozoology) a être organisé dans un pays arabe et où des chercheurs de pays très différents ont été invités : des Emirats Arabes Unis bien sûr, mais aussi d’Arménie, d’Iran, de Turquie, de Palestine, du Japon, des Etats-Unis et d’Europe.

Sur le plan scientifique, ce colloque a permis de mettre au jour de nouvelles découvertes et de poser de nouvelles questions voire de corriger certaines hypothèses. En tant qu’anthropologue de la région, je pense en particulier – car cela concerne directement l’histoire des Emirats Arabes Unis et de la péninsule arabique – aux communications qui ont été faites, l’une à propos d’un site de dromadaires trouvé dans la région de Ruwais ou l’autre, à propos d’un site où se trouvaient des restes de dromadaires dans l’Emirat de Sharjah. Ces exposés soulèvent l’importante question de la domestication du dromadaire en Arabie, question décisive puisqu’elle en rapport direct avec l’histoire du nomadisme, de la structure de la société bédouine et du commerce dans la péninsule arabique avant et après l’Islam. L’histoire de cette région ne peut être séparée de celle de la domestication de ce camélidé.

Ce colloque international a contribué à la fois à renforcer la coopération et les liens d’amitiés entre la France et les Emirats Arabes Unis ainsi qu’au développement des recherches sur la zone du Moyen-Orient et de l’Asie du Sud-Ouest. Ce colloque a permis la publication d’un ouvrage scientifique à la portée des chercheurs émiriens et du reste du monde. Ce type de coopération permet de tisser des liens entre les personnes et laisse des matériaux archéologiques et scientifiques utiles ; matériaux d’autant plus intéressants et utiles qu’ouvriront bientôt le musée du Louvre Abu Dhabi et le musée national Cheikh Zayed.

Je tiens à vivement remercier Mohamed Khalaf al-Mazroui, Directeur Général de l’ADACH, Zaki Nusseibeh, Vice-Président de l’ADACH, Mohamed Niyadi, Représentant de l’ADACH à al-‘Aïn et Patrice Paoli, Ambassadeur de France aux Emirats Arabes Unis, pour leur appui immédiat et leur soutien à ce projet de colloque, sans qui celui-ci n’aurait jamais pu se tenir.

Il me faut aussi remercier tous les personnels du Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle de l’Ambassade de France qui étaient alors en poste et ont largement contribué à la réussite de ce colloque : M. Jean-Philippe Rot, secrétaire du SCAC, les deux chargées mission, Mesdemoiselles Ondine Diakhaté et Aurélie Cousergues ainsi que Madame Ingrid Jouette-Nagati, attachée de coopération pour le français.

Doivent être également remerciées, les entreprises qui ont accepté de sponsoriser ce colloque et en tout premier lieu M. Varouj Nerguissian, Directeur de la Banque de Sharjah dont l’importante contribution a été décisive, sans oublier les sociétés Dassault, Thalès et l’Hotel Mercure d’al-‘Aïn.

Foreword in honour of the two pioneering researchers in Archaeozoology

The contribution of Hans Peter Uerpmann to the Archaeozoology of the Near East

Nicolas Conard

Although I knew of Hans-Peter Uerpmann’s research and reputation before I moved to Tübingen, it was through our work together in the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecolology that we got to know each other well. For 15 years from 1995 to 2009 Hans-Peter and I ran the affairs of the department with all its complexities, with many more successes than failures. Although Hans-Peter is now retired, we continue to work together in a wide range of scientific contexts. Over the years, we co-supervised more than 30 master’s theses and 20 doctoral dissertations. We also occasionally published together and had several joint excavations and research grants. Hans-Peter was my closest colleague at the University and my closest partner for innumerable debates, conflicts and successes that shared university life brings with it. Thus I have had many chances to work with him in all sorts of different settings.

Before turning my attention to Hans-Peter Uerpmann, I also wish to mention that I am pleased to do this in the context of a publication dedicated to both Hans-Peter and Francois Poplin. While my relationship with Francois Poplin is a very different one, I would like to mention my appreciation for his having included me on his excavation team at Roche-au-Loup near the Yonne River in Burgundy in 1986. Francois showed me much about archaeology and zooarchaeology at his field camp under a large banner bearing the name BUFFON. He also treated me with great kindness in the field and at his homes in Auxerre and Paris. The enormous pleasure I had as his sidekick and helper on numerous excursions, shopping runs and most particularly on visits to vinyards and wine cellars, belong to some of my best memories as an archaeologist. The time spent with Francois Poplin in his native countryside was a joy, for many scientific and personal reasons. Whether singing in his excavation choir or digging the transition between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic by the light of carbide lamps, the time spent in camp Buffon was unforgettable. Francois’ unusual skills and many passions have no doubt at times surprised and inspired many natural historians as they did me. This is not the place to dwell on these fond memories, other than noting my thanks to Francois Poplin for his generosity when I was a student and for our collegial interaction in more recent years.

Returning to my main topic, Hans-Peter Uerpmann was born in Hohenlimburg near Hagen in Westphalia on All Saints’ Day in 1941. His father was killed in fighting on the Eastern Front in January after his birth. Hans-Peter’s family moved to Plüderhausen near Stuttgart where he spent his early years and attended school. He, like the many other German children born during World War II and the populace in general, faced considerable adversity in his early years during the war and in the lean years after the war.

After initially completing school in Schorndorf, he entered a training course as a mechanic in Grunbach. He later enrolled in the Schorndorf Gymnasium, where he earned his Abitur and qualified for university studies. In keeping with the spirit of Jack London and Josef Conrad, he enlisted on a freighter and took to the sea. He sailed along the African coast to Senegal, the Canary Islands and to ports in northern Scandinavia. Only after satisfying his Wanderlust, did he turn his attention to science. This being said, he chose a career that was compatible with his longing to travel to remote and exotic places.

Hans-Peter Uerpmann enrolled in a leading program for veterinary medicine at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich. Here he worked closely with Prof. Joachim Boessneck and earned a doctoral degree in 1968 with a dissertation about prehistoric faunal economies and paleoenvironments of Mallorca. After finishing this degree he decided that archaezoology was impossible without archaeology and went to the University of Freiburg to study Pre- and Protohistory with Edward Sangmeister and Wilhelm Schüle. Much of Hans-Peter’s early research drew upon data from prehistoric Spain and focused on a wide range of methodological issues.

In 1971 Hans-Peter and his wife Margarethe moved to Tübingen for studies with Prof. Hansjürgen Müller-Beck, Wolfgang Taute and other members of the Institute for Prehistory. On many occassions both Margarethe and Hans-Peter have told me of the enthusiasm for prehistory and scientific archaeology that permeated Schloß Hohentübingen in those days. Müller-Beck had a passion for the archaeology of hunters and gatherers, and unlike most of his peers and contemporaries embraced many innovations and welcomed researchers working at the interface between archaeology and the natural sciences.

Later the Uerpmanns returned to Freiburg for a short time, where Hans-Peter continued his studies with Prof. Sangmeister, a leading scholar for the Neolithic. Sangmeister was an open-minded teacher and Doktorvater, who gave Hans-Peter the freedom he needed to start work on his second doctoral dissertation, this time in prehistory. It was conceived as dealing with the spread of Neolithic economy in the Mediterranean Region, at first focusing on the western part of it. This soon changed when Uerpmann was offered a research position in the Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO), which brought the Uerpmanns back to Tübingen, where subsequently their three children were born. Working for the ‘Tübingen Atlas’ under the direction of Wolfgang Röllig gave him a wide range of opportunities to extend his research into the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. In his archaeological thesis focusing on faunal assemblages from the Near East, Hans-Peter presented a wealth of new data on the domestication of animals, and postulated that rapid expansion of grasslands in connection with climatic amelioration at the end of the Pleistocene served as a trigger that gave raise to large-scale agriculture. Only with the subsequent domestication of animals were the economies of the Near East able to sustain larger villages, which eventually evolved into cities. This research and Hans-Peter’s ongoing work on these questions represent one of his most important contributions to archaeology.

At this time in the late 1960s and the 1970s zooarchaeology was not yet an established discipline, and Hans-Peter Uerpmann’s research often addressed fundamental questions of recording data, quantifying patterns of variation, and defining ways to identify domesticates. These publications helped to lay the foundation for the new field and continue to be used by many colleagues and former students. It is particularly this work that led Uerpmann to be seen as the leading figure in German zooarchaeology and as one of the leading voices of international zooarchaeology. This characterization is warranted, since the other German scholars working on faunal remains from archaeological contexts invariably came from backgrounds in zoology, paleontology or veterinary medicine. They usually lacked knowledge of archaeology and did not view themselves as archaeologists. This also applies to the long and rich tradition of researchers on archaeological faunas in central Europe, who worked on many questions related to past subsistence practices, paleoenvironments, taphonomy, and animal domestication. Prior to Uerpmann’s work the terms zooarchaeology and archaeozoology did not exist in Germany, and nowhere in German speaking Europe were archaeologist trained to analyze animal bones.

Given Hans-Peter’s standing in the field, it came as no surprise that he was one of the founding members of the International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) at the UISPP meeting at Nice in 1976 and that he continues to shape this leading organization until the present.

Hans-Peter played a central role in three special research centres (SFBs) funded by the German Research Council in Tübingen. These included the renowned Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO), another SFB on paleoecology and one on climate coupled processes. In each of these and in many other contexts, Hans-Peter’s research addressed the ways environmental and climatic change helped to shape human history.

Although Hans-Peter’s research led him to travel widely, he often worked locally in central Europe on all periods from the Paleolithic to the medieval period. This being said, extreme settings interested him the most. This explains his long commitment to research in Arabia. In this arid region, the slightest environmental change had the potential to shift the tentative equilibrium between nature and the human societies that had found ways of inhabiting this vast region. This interest led Hans-Peter, who was often accompanied by Margarethe and his sons Bjorn and Urs and daughter Adelina to places including Oman, and the UAE. Since 1996 Hans-Peter has excavated every year in Emirate of Sharjah. This work has documented a vast cemetery of early nomadic herders from the 6th and 5th millennium BC in Jebel al-Buhais and what is probably the best evidence for Paleolithic occupations in southern Arabia at Jebel Faya. One point that the work in Sharjah makes clear is that Hans-Peter is not ‘only’ a zooarchaeologist, but in every sense an archaeologist skilled at running and publishing major excavations. In fact over the years, it has become clear to me that colleagues, who pigeon-hole Hans-Peter as a specialist in zooarchaeology are often unaware of his many contributions to archaeology as a whole.

Another aspect of Hans-Peter’s work was his willingness to embrace new methods and new technologies. He was always interested in having fast computers and excellent computer programs. If necessary he was happy to write software himself to obtain his goals. He also actively supported all kinds of research using stable isotopes and biomolecules. He was always quick to recognise the importance of new methods and, while still supporting the goals and teaching the methods of traditional zooarchaeology, he often seemed more interested in testing the limits of experimental methods. On many occasions, Hans-Peter made it clear to me that he had no objection to our using our small number of job-lines for hiring researchers working on stable isotopes, paleogenetics or other new fields. Often, I found myself as the younger member of our partnership being more cautious or skeptical of new methods than my senior colleague, who always wanted to work on the cutting edge of research using new methods.

I will not present the many contributions that Hans-Peter Uerpmann made to zooarchaeology and archaeology in general here. This would take too much space, and it might even be taken to imply that one does not have to read his publications. The contrary is true. Students of archaeology should read his publications more than they do. His prose is characterised by a concise, crisp logic and an economy that makes it a model of scientific style in both senses of the world. Hans-Peter’s greatest strengths are his clarity of thought and his skill in explaining his observations. These aspects of his writing make his papers, regardless whether they were written in German or English a pleasure to read and to reflect upon.

A teacher’s legacy is usually defined by the work of his students. Since I have been in Tübingen Hans-Peter has contributed to the training of scores of students. His teaching evaluations were always remarkably favorable and in recent years one could notice an affinity between him and his many students that was much like that between a grandfather and his grandchildren. Students instinctively knew that they could trust him, and he was often an advocate for the causes of the students. He would take on this role with such grace that solutions to nearly every problem could be found, without anyone loosing face or being compromised in his or her position.

Hans-Peter trained students in all periods from the Lower Paleolithic to Middle Ages on topics that ranged from all aspects of traditional archaeology to the newest and at times experimental methods of zooarchaeology. Hans-Peter trusted his students and let them work in peace. His students trusted Hans-Peter to be there when he was needed and to help with all matters of science. Dozens of Hans-Peter’s students are active in the field in Germany, but also in England, Japan, Turkey, Syria and Armenia.

Aside from his formal teaching of students in Tübingen, or as a guest professor at the University of Alaska, Harvard, MIT, or Kyoto, I often heard from colleagues, that they had learned ideas or techniques from Hans-Peter. This certainly applies to me. Since Hans-Peter never followed a cookbook in teaching or in research new ideas arose constantly and one always learned from him. Often I heard praise of Hans-Peter’s teaching coming from unexpected places, and I am sure that his influence is greater than most people and indeed Hans-Peter himself knows. Unlike many academics, who just go through the motions of routine activities, behind his facade of calm and mature wisdom Hans-Peter was always developing and testing ideas.

Regardless of what came and went in the field, Hans-Peter never got caught up in the changing scientific fashion of the day. Instead he was his own man in matters of science. I think it is ultimately this characteristic that gave him his credibility and make him one of the great minds in zooarchaeology as well as in the other areas of archaeology in which he conducted his research. It is entirely fitting that this volume be dedicated to him.

The contribution of François Poplin to Archaeozoological studies

Christine Lefèvre

In December 1980, at the beginning of one of his bachelor’s degree classes at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, François Poplin asked the students if someone would be interested in going to Corsica the following summer, to help a PhD student of his preparing cow skeletons for a local comparative anatomy collection. My brain selectively registered ‘Corsica’ and ‘summer’, with visions crossing my eyes of beautiful beaches and hot sunny days (remember this was December in Paris …). Thus, at the end of the class, I found the courage to approach him and tell him that I would be interested in the job. François Poplin asked me if I had cleaned a skeleton before and if I knew how to do it. After my negative answer, he invited me to come to the Museum the next Saturday, where I boiled and cleaned my first bison skeleton.

In July 1981, I indeed spent a month in Corsica, cleaning eight cows (and unfortunately also burning a fox!) for Jean-Denis Vigne (who was the above mentioned ‘PhD student’ of François Poplin). We worked long days, the ‘osteological lab’ was in a dark basement, and when I came back to Paris, my mother’s first words were: ‘you look so tired and pale, my darling!’ Well, I had learned not to confuse archaeological or osteological training courses with holidays!

That day in December 1980 marked my first visit to the Comparative Anatomy building of the Paris National Museum of Natural History. I was hooked: by the Museum, its collections, and of course by François Poplin’s personage. After a very brief detour in a Physical Anthropology laboratory for my Masters degree, I came back to the Museum in 1983 for my Doctoral research and obtained a permanent position there in 1989. I have been fortunate to spend all those years near François Poplin, to be a close witness of the birth and development of the research team he created and which now numbers over 60 scientists, and to benefit from his permanent intellectual ferment and creativeness.

François Poplin was born in Auxerre, Yonne, in 1943. Yonne is one of the four departments constituting the Burgundy region and being an ‘Icaunais’ (a native of Yonne) is a strong component of François Poplin’s individuality. There lie his deep roots: his youth and school years, his father who was Professor of History, the family house in Auxerre, the Irancy wine, and a series of local figures whose names have passed into posterity with different degrees of fame. He has written some beautiful papers on topics related to this area, which, to some scholars, may seem marginal to his major research lines but are in fact splendid pieces of work showing the extraordinary knowledge of the man and his strong attachment to his countryside, and which, when one reads them with the rest of his oeuvre, are plainly part of his mental construction.

The Yonne department also hosts some archaeological sites which will definitively orientate his life. In 1955, the young François spent the summer holidays excavating at the site of Escolives, then directed by André Leroi-Gourhan. In 1958, he participated for the first time at the excavations at Arcy-sur-Cure. This encounter with the great Prehistorian was a decisive step: François Poplin learnt a lot from the man from whom he later said ‘combien j’en ai reçu de culture’. Later in his career, he wrote several papers dedicated to André Leroi-Gourhan, analysing his perception of the animal world and its relation with men through time. In one of them, François Poplin narrates how, during the excavation he conducted at the beginning of the 1980s at La Roche au Loup, a Prehistoric cave near Merrysur-Yonne, he used to take young students unfamiliar with the region for a walk. During these expeditions in his old 2CV (which sometimes ended earlier than expected due to running out of gas!), he would focus their attention on the flora and soils of the slopes they were wandering through until he would reach a certain spot and have them turn around to discover the basilica of Vezelay on the eternal hill … I was lucky enough to be one of these students and it was a moment in my life I will never forget.

Despite his interest for archaeology, François Poplin studied veterinary medicine in Lyon, a safer way ‘to earn his daily bread’ and a good way to unite scientific research and animals. There, he had for teacher another great man, Professor Robert Barone. In a moving homage to his former professor, François Poplin dwelt on the clarity of his exposition and the importance of his ‘perceiving the unity of nature as well as its diversity, which is richness’. Under his supervision, François Poplin completed in 1966 a Doctoral Thesis entitled Research on the biometry of the ocular globe of domestic mammals. Working as a veterinary doctor in the Berry region, François Poplin did not renounce his interest in Palaeontology and Archaeology and entered the University of Paris 6 Pierre and Marie Curie, where he studied Palaeontology and defended in 1972 a Doctoral Thesis entitled Contribution to the morphology and biometry of Alopex lagopus (Linné) and Vulpes vulpes (Linné). The foxes of Arcy-sur-Cure.

This double education gave François Poplin a very special dual vision and approach: the animal alive, with which he has a sensitive, empirical relation, and its skeleton, witness of the past and of the relationship between human beings and animals.

In 1972, François Poplin was hired at the Laboratoire d’Anatomie comparée of the Paris Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, owing to the kindness of Professor Jean Antony. Created in 1793, the Chair of Animal’s Anatomy was first directed by Jean-Claude Mertrud, then, from 1802, by Georges Cuvier. The name of Comparative Anatomy was given by Henri Ducrotay de Blainville who succeeded Cuvier in 1832. When François Poplin arrived in the place, he was the only one interested in ‘old bones’, prehistory, or archaeology. The epoch was more favourable to new techniques such as genetics, and the rich osteological collections assembled by Buffon, Daubenton, Cuvier and many other more anonymous collectors, and hosted in Comparative Anatomy, were suffering from a lack of interest: money was short, and so were the curatorial staff. Aware of the richness and importance of such a tool for archaeozoology, François Poplin spent long lonely hours in the dark basement of the building, inventorying skeletons, employing his anatomical skills to reconstruct mixed up specimens and re-identifying what he called (and we still use the term …) ‘lost children’.

During these early years at the Laboratoire d’Anatomie comparée, François Poplin’s research was dedicated to numerous studies of faunal assemblages from Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Iron Age sites. These works are far from being simple quantified lists of bones. As he had learnt alongside André Leroi-Gourhan, François Poplin always questioned the significance of the bones in the sites, never forgetting that the assemblages are the results of human actions, and advocating for the ‘palethnological interpretation of animal remains’. He also published some avant-garde and fundamental works on quantification methods or taphonomy, still used by young French archaeozoologist beginners, but which were unfortunately ignored by most non-French-speaking archaeozoologists.

Shortly after 1972, a few students and young colleagues started to gather around François Poplin. They would come with a box of bones to identify, asking for advice, looking for comparative specimens, and finding in François Poplin an attentive interlocutor, eager to transmit his deeply interdisciplinary approach to the next generation. Their names were Patrice Méniel, Jean-Denis Vigne, Sophie Beckouche, Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, Joëlle Pichon … Some of them are probably familiar to readers.

The 1970s were also a time period during which archaeozoology took an expanding place in archaeological studies, among the French as well as in the international community. In 1976, at the meeting of the Union internationale des sciences préhistoriques et protohistoriques (UISPP) held in Nice, the creation of the International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) was decided and François Poplin was among its first members. In August 2010, Jean-Denis Vigne and myself were extremely happy and proud not only to co-organise with other colleagues the 11th ICAZ International Conference in Paris, but above all to have François Poplin as President of the Honour Committee. Afterwards, when he expressed to me how much he had enjoyed the event and told me that this was the best homage we could pay to him, all the efforts we had put into the preparation of the Conference were rewarded.

The 1980s see increasing activity for François Poplin and the growing group of young archaeozoologists around him. In 1982, the proposal of the creation of the Cooperative Research Program ‘Animal, os et archéologie’ (RCP 717) was granted by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The financial support and scientific recognition helped the still quite informal group in equipping the archaeozoological laboratory, participating in field work, travelling to study material, attending conferences, and so forth.

At the same time, François Poplin’s intellectual process kept progressing toward Anthropozoology, questioning the relations between human beings and animals not only through bones but also through bestiaries, texts, languages ... In 1983, an informal meeting of seventeen French ‘archaeologists specializing in bones’ was organised by François Poplin and the RCP 717 at Avallon (Yonne), and hosted by Thérèse Poulain, the first ‘faunal archaeologist’ hired at the CNRS in the early ’60s. The group pointed out and regretted the lack of links with other researchers interested by the relationships between men and animals, such as historians, anthropologists, philologists, veterinarian doctors, zoologists... It was decided to create the international association ‘L’Homme et l’animal, société de recherche interdisciplinaire’ (HASRI) and to launch a new journal, Anthropozoologica. Starting modestly, the journal took a new step in 1990, with the setting up of an international referee committee and the support of the CNRS. It is now published by the Scientific Publications of the French National Museum of Natural History and distributed in many countries through exchanges with the Central Library of the MNHN. François Poplin is still an active member of the referee committee.

In 1990, another stage of recognition was reached for François Poplin’s team, with the creation of a true CNRS-MNHN Research Unit, the URA 1415 ‘Animal, os et archéologie’. In the meantime, several members of the original core obtained permanent positions either at the CNRS or the MNHN, others chose different paths, and newcomers joined the group. François Poplin directed the group for 12 years, until J.-D. Vigne took over the direction in 2002. The names of the team have fluctuated at the whim of the quadrennial contracts with the CNRS, the group has expanded, the research topics have been recently enlarged to archaeobotany but the spirit and goals have remained the same: documenting the history of human societies through their relationships with animals and plants.

1990 also marked the creation of a new Master programme specialization called ‘Environment and Archaeology’, accepted by the MNHN and various French universities. François Poplin took an active part in the organisation of this programme, which was aimed at developing the interface between human and natural sciences for the benefit of archaeology and in which he taught for many years. He had taught at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne since the early ’70s but as his research moved on from archaeozoology to anthropozoology, François Poplin felt the need to organise a seminar in which scholars and researchers from various disciplines could share their common interest in the history of the relationship between human beings and animals. In 1994, he thus launched a series of seminars on the ‘Natural and cultural history of true animals’ at the National Museum of Natural History. The seminar has become a regular rendezvous and each session is an occasion of personal enrichment.

During those years, François Poplin kept writing numerous papers. I do not intend to present a detailed and exhaustive analysis of his many contributions to a wide range of topics. I would rather let people consult his publications list available on the website of our team and encourage them to read them. Some will argue that most of the titles are in French: yes, indeed, but what French! The style is remarkable, each word carefully chosen to fit at best the author’s mind and extract and reveal its various meanings. The studies of animal remains become less directly present in his oeuvre, but bones, teeth, shells, hair, feathers, scales, milk and even wood, seeds and stones are never very far away. His natural and cultural approach is nourished by the synthesis between those material signs of animals and their appearances in texts, languages, bestiaries, and art. The analysis of animal remains becomes the means to go back to the thought and mind of long gone human societies and not only to their material life. From Anatomy to Palaeontology and Prehistory, François Poplin’s work spreads to History, Ethnology, Anthropology, from Archaeozoology to Anthropozoology. Long before the fusion of our group of archaeozoologists with a group of archaebotanists, François Poplin did not ignore the vegetal world, and included some of them in his works on animal and vegetal cultural history.

Perhaps more easily accessible to the archaeological community are François Poplin’s works on ivory and other hard materials of animal origins. His incredible skills in recognising both the anatomical and taxonomic substances are fascinating. He travelled extensively to visit numerous collections and museums, (re)identifying substances, explaining the techniques used to create the objects from a piece of tooth or tusk. The Louvre Museum has appealed to his expertise many times, and his name should have appeared as the main author of the catalogue of the 2004 exhibit on Ivories, from Ancient Orient to Modern Times, as well as on numerous museum exhibit cards. The biogeographical implications of the presence of objects in certain places at certain times have formed the basis of profoundly valuable papers on the movements of people and animals in the past.

François Poplin is definitively an atypical researcher, teacher, and colleague. Although it is sometimes difficult to follow his extraordinary intellectual brilliance and his ‘Encyclopedist’ culture, he has been and still is a great inspirer of ideas. He is an unremitting worker and shows the same enthusiasm today as in the past, even for lesser discoveries. In that, he is still a model for the youngest and the less young scientists of our lab. He played a major role in our community in promoting a global naturalistic and anthropological approach to the relationships between men and animals. Retired since December 2008, he remains the Honorary Director of our research group and is Honorary Attaché of the National Museum of Natural History.

Beyond the researcher and the great mind, there is also a man who can reveal a great kindness and goodness. His very special take on the Art of Being a Grandfather delights the numerous little daughters and sons of the lab staff who sometimes wander in the corridor where he has his office: they know that the big book is in fact a candy box, and that François Poplin is always willing to open it for them!

Part 1

Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence in northern Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Iranian Plateau

1. Small game and shifting subsistence patterns from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Natufian at Baaz Rockshelter, Syria

Hannes Napierala, Andrew W. Kandel and Nicholas J. Conard

A joint research programme based at the universities of Munich and Tübingen focuses on primary animal domestication in the Upper Euphrates Basin. To gain a better understanding of the onset of the Neolithic, the project also examines the preceding Palaeolithic of neighbouring regions. This approach affords a fuller picture of variability among faunal accumulations in hunter/gatherer contexts and allows us to explore the changes that occurred as the Neolithic began. We studied four Palaeolithic sites in southwestern Syria: Baaz Rockshelter, Kaus Kozah Cave, Ain Dabbour Cave and Wadi Mushkuna Rockshelter. These sites are situated in the central Levant in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains 40-60 km northeast of Damascus.
Here we presents results from Baaz Rockshelter with its especially well preserved stratigraphic sequence beginning with an Early Upper Palaeolithic horizon, followed by Late Upper Palaeolithic, Natufian and Pottery Neolithic layers. In addition to the many parallels with supra-regional trends, the Natufian faunal assemblage also shows clear differences compared to the southern Levant, a region which shows higher percentages of wild sheep and hare. Shifting relative abundances of these species can be interpreted as a result of either changed human subsistence behaviour, or as a mere consequence of environmental parameters. In order to differentiate the osteomorphology, we developed new criteria during the course of the study. The identification of two different species of gazelle among the material is noteworthy. The occurrence of both Gazella gazella and G. subgutturosa reflects the location of the site in an ecologically transitional area.
Keywords Subsistence patterns, Baaz rockshelter, Syria, Palaeolithic, Natufian


Baaz Rockshelter is an archaeological site located in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains in southwestern Syria about 40km northeast of Damascus. The site is a small rockshelter situated at the base of the limestone cliffs that rim the al-Majar Depression (Figs 1.1 & 1.2). During our numerous systematic surveys in the area, many sites in a similar topographic position were recorded. However, sites with stratified deposits like those found at Baaz were the exception.

Excavations carried out between 1999 and 2004 by a German-Syrian team under the direction of Nicholas J. Conard from the University of Tübingen identified seven archaeological horizons (AH) of deposits spanning from the Early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) to the Neolithic period. The bottom of the sequence, AH VII, is EUP and dates to ca. 33ka BP (Conard 2000). While no dates are available from AH VI, AH V dates to the Late Upper Palaeolithic with an age of ca. 22ka BP. Richest in finds are the upper layers AH III to I, whose assemblages are mostly of Late Natufian age (ca. 11ka BP) (Table 1.1).

AH III proved to be especially noteworthy, containing a built-in stone mortar and a constructed hearth surrounded by the remains of a circular house structure with a packed clay floor (Stahlschmidt 2010). Only AH I contains some intrusive younger material. Nonetheless, the majority of finds from AH I appear to be of Natufian age, as suggested by the lithics (Hillgruber 2010) and botanical remains (Deckers et al. 2009). The finds in AH I span a wide interval, with an array of artefacts ranging from Khiamian points, which typologically date to ca. 10ka BP, and transverse arrowheads, which fit well with the youngest radiocarbon dates of 5241±35 and 5707±34 BP. AH I also contains a small number of ceramic fragments (Conard 2000).

Fig. 1.1. Baaz Rockshelter. View of the limestone cliffs from the cliff slope below. The white arrow indicates the site (Photograph by A.W. Kandel).

Table 1.1. Radiocarbon dates for the Baaz Rockshelter.

Fig. 1.2. Baaz Rockshelter. Sites and features mentioned in the text.

The faunal assemblages from Baaz are interesting in many respects (Napierala 2011). Above all, the long chronology of the deposits offers the opportunity to test ideas about the shift in subsistence strategies from the Upper Palaeolithic (UP) to the Epipalaeolithic (EP). Small species, such as hare and tortoise, are usually much more numerous in EP assemblages of the Levant. This trend towards the exploitation of small animals is often interpreted as an indication of dietary stress on EP people (e.g. Cohen 1977). Stiner and Munro (2002) use the relative proportions of hare and tortoise as a scale to reflect the degree of stress. In this paper we discuss these hypotheses with regard to our findings at Baaz Rockshelter.

Among the EP complexes, the Natufian in particular shows a set of economic innovations, such as the extensive exploitation of wild grains and a broadening prey spectrum (Flannery 1969). This set of innovations is often seen as a key process that culminated in the domestication of plants and animals a few centuries later.

Baaz is located in the central Levant in an area that has not received much attention despite its proximity to the famous Palaeolithic sites of Yabroud excavated by Alfred Rust (1950) in the 1930s and Ralph and Rose Solecki (1966) in the 1960s. The Natufian occupation at Baaz narrows the geographic gap between Mureybet, Dederiyeh and other EP sites of the northern Levant and what Bar-Yosef (1998) called the Natufian homeland of the southern Levant. Other interesting research questions include the zoogeography of equids and gazelles and palaeoenvironmental aspects, themes that will not be addressed in this article.

Some remarks on methodology

Reliable data about small game can only be obtained from assemblages that have been sieved during excavation, otherwise many small finds will be missed. At Baaz, sieving with 5mm and 1mm screens increased the number of small finds considerably, especially the fraction of small game. Therefore, our assemblage allows us to test existing hypotheses about small game proportions on a thoroughly and meticulously excavated collection. The total number of identified¹ small game² finds is 1544, including the finds from sieving. If we only look at the individually piece-plotted, small game finds (i.e., excluding sieved finds), the number of identified specimens (NISP) for small game is 374. By comparing the unsieved and sieved fractions of the assemblage, we can observe shifts in the relative proportions of game categories. If we examine just the unsieved, identified, piece-plotted finds, 297 large game finds are present compared to 374 small game finds, yielding a 4:5 ratio. However, if we add the sieved fraction, the ratio rises to 1:2 (770:1544), tipping the ratio more strongly in favour of the small species. The weight ratio for large to small fauna without the sieved fraction is 830g:351g (5:2) and 1159g:626g (2:1) with it. This observation indicates that investigators may have underestimated the small game fraction in older excavations where detailed screening of the material was not undertaken. It is interesting to note that the bias is not as strong when weights are compared, because sieving usually yields smaller and lighter fragments.

All faunal remains were not only counted, but also weighed to improve the comparability of find quantities between layers and to those of other sites. This is helpful because preservation varies considerably between layers and sites. In the Natufian layers