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The Natufian: Settlement Variability and Economic Adaptations in the Levant at the End of the Pleistocene Author(s): Brian

F. Byrd Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of World Prehistory, Vol. 3, No. 2 (June 1989), pp. 159-197 Published by: Springer Stable URL: . Accessed: 09/01/2012 14:42
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Journal of World Prehistory,

Vol. 3, No.

2, 1989

The Natufian: Settlement Variability and Economic Adaptations in theLevant at theEnd of the Pleistocene
Brian F. Byrd1

The relationship between current interpretations of Natufian settlement and subsistence and available archaeological data are examined in light of recent research, particularly inJordan. Regional variability in adaptive strategies is discernible, particularly between forest and coastal sites versus steppe and desert sites. Greater evidence of plant processing and more intensive occupation characterize settlement in the former, although year-round occupation has yet to be conclusively demonstrated. Patterned variability also exists between two classes of steppe and desert area settlements. One set of steppe and desert sites is characterized by a broad range of activities and moderate settlement perma nence and activity intensity, while lesspermanent occupation and more specialized activities focused primarily on hunting typifythe other set of sites. Evidence for food production in theNatufian is examined and, although the domestication process may have begun, no morphological evidence existsfor thedomestication of plants or herd animals. Finally, worthwhile areas for future research are outlined.
KEY WORDS: Natufian; settlement patterns; subsistence; domestication; sedentism; seasonally.

The end of the Pleistocene and the onset of the Holocene (between 12,500 and 10,200 B.P.) were a time of considerable change in environment and human adaptation (e.g., Hayden, 1981). In the Levantine Near East this period has been the focus of considerable research over the last 50 years (e.g., Garrod, 1958, Perrot, 1962; J. Cauvin, 1978; Bar-Yosef, 1983; Valla, 1984;
1 Department of Anthropology, University ofWisconsin?Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.


PlenumPublishing ? 1989 Corporation 0892-7537/89/0600-O159506.00/0



ment inhuman adaptation has been the subject of intense debate unfettered by the limitations of the archaeological data. These models have variously empha sized changes in the environment, population size, settlement patterns, eco nomic strategies, or social organization in attempting to explain the initial steps towards fully sedentary villages depending substantially upon domesticated 1960; Binford, 1968; Flannery, 1969, plants and animals (e.g., Braidwood, This debate has focused primarily on the late Epipaleolithic complex" of theNatufian, due to the apparently pivotal position

Henry, 1985). Investigations have emphasized the sequence and underlying causes of events leading to the emergence of sedentary communities and domestic plants (particularly cereals and legumes) and animals (especially sheep and goat). The role of particular variables in this fundamental develop

1982; Bar-Yosef, 1983; Henry, 1985; sedentary food production (see Moore, Perrot, 1962; J.Cauvin, 1978; Cauvin and Cauvin, 1983). Recently, the pace of fieldwork on the late Epipaleolithic of theLevant has increased dramatically, particularly in Jordan and theNegev. The initial results of these research projects, many of which are still in progress, reveal a richmosaic of varying settlement and subsistence strategies. Indeed, they have called into question the applicability of the term "Natufian" to all these subsistence and settle

"cultural it holds in the developmental sequence frommobile hunting and gathering societies to sedentary village communities. Interpretations of Natufian adaptations have varied widely, from models of semisedentary hunting and collecting to

Moore, 1982; 1973; Bender, 1978; Redding, 1988). Wright, 1971; Henry, 1981;

ment systems (Belfer-Cohen, 1988; Byrd, 1987; Olszewski, 1986). The goals of this review are to examine the relationship or "goodness of fit" between current interpretations of Natufian settlement and subsistence data, to suggest alternative strategies and the available archaeological more areas to where and indicate research is needed. For the hypotheses, purposes of this discussion, I utilize a broad interpretation of the geographic Natufian which includes Palestine, Jordan, theNegev, and distribution of the term the Natufian essentially as a temporal label forLevantine Syria.2 By using occupation between 12,500 and 10,200 B.P., regional patterning can be examined.

the full range and diversity of

2 should Recently, there has been discussion of the geographic range to which the termNatufian be applied, particularly whether sites in northern Syria should be termed Natufian (M. Cauvin, 1986, 1988). However, 1981; Perrot, 1983; Bar-Yosef, 1983; Olszewski, 1983) or not (Moore, to it appears more germane with the rapid increase in research in Jordan and the Negev, forest consider whether the term Natufian should be restricted to sites in the Mediterranean zone of northern Palestine and northwestern Jordan or whether sites with lunates in the more arid portions of Jordan, Syria, and the Negev should also be termed Natufian (Belfer-Cohen, of this topic see Byrd 1988; Byrd, 1987; Goring-Morris, 1987). For more detailed consideration (1987, pp. 310-313) and the publication of the International Symposium, "The Natufian culture. The origins of sedentism and Neolithic societies of the Levant," Sophia Antipolis, France (1989).


Settlement Variability

and Economic




The discovery and systematic investigation of late Pleistocene microlithic World War I. Garrod (1932,1942), assemblages did not take place until after Wadi en-Natuf and Mugharet based on excavations at Shukbah Cave in the Mount Carmel (Fig. 1), defined theNatufian as a distinct prehistoric el Wad in

cultural assemblage. Additional investigation in the 1920s and 1930s, by Turville-Petre (1932) at Kebarah Cave, Neuville (1934, 1951) in the Judean desert, and Rust (1950, pp. 119-121) in western Syria, confirmed the dis tinctiveness of the Natufian complex and also revealed stratigraphically earlier microlithic industries. In characterizing theNatufian, Garrod used the terms "industry" and "culture" interchangeably. Microlithic backed lunates were the key "fossil indicators" for theNatufian chipped stone industry and other characteristic chipped stone tools included triangles, burins, perforators, end scrapers, core

scrapers, and backed blades, which often displayed sickle polish (Garrod, 1932, p. 258). The use of themicroburin technique to segment bladelets and of Helwan (bifacial) retouch subsequently to blunt or back these bladelets was viewed as distinctive of the industry.3 In addition, large chipped stone tools (made of chert) such as picks, choppers, and round scrapers were also characteristics of Natufian assemblages included bone tools (particularly points, harpoons, gorgets, sickle hafts, and pendants), basalt ground stone vessels and pestles, limestone mortars, sculpture in stone and bone, burials, and construction features such as walls and pavements. These early researchers characterized the Natufian as the first agri culturalists based on the presence of sickles (to harvest the cereals) and recovered. Additional p. 268; Neuville, available. Most results from the

mortars and pestles (to process the grain) (Garrod, 1932, 1934, p. 254). However, no direct botanical evidence was scholars accepted these assertions until the 1950s, when excavation of new Natufian sites called for a reevaluation

of these ideas. In the 1950s and 1960sNatufian settlements were identified in a broader range of geographical and environmental settings including the Jordan Valley, the hills of northern Palestine, southern Syria, and southwestern Jordan 1967;M. Cauvin, 1974; Kenyon, 1981; Kirkbride, (Bar-Yosef andTchernov, 1966; Stekelis and Yizraely, 1963). Of particular importance were the exca Since a large vations at the large open-air Natufian site of Ain Mallaha. number of stone structures were exposed at Ain Mallaha, Perrot (1966, p. 447) suggested that the site was an extensive permanent settlement, with subsistence based entirely on wild plants and animals. Perrot's views strongly
3 The microburin technique is now known to occur in a variety of earlier Epipaleolithic stone industries in the Levant (e.g., Bar-Yosef, 1981). chipped




1. Map

of the Levant

showing modern


zones and major




Settlement Variability

and Economic



influenced subsequent models of the development of sedentary villages and the relationship between sedentism and the origins of food production. Specifically, a model positing sedentary hunting and gathering as a prelude to early food production gained wide currency in the late 1960s and early syntheses of theNatufian were also produced (Valla, 1975), with particular emphasis on the chipped stone industries (Bar-Yosef, 1970; Henry, 1973a). For the first time, extensive discussion was given to the details of Natufian settlement and subsistence patterns (e.g., Bar-Yosef, 1970; Bar-Yosef and

1970s(Binford, 1968; periodnew During this Wright, 1971). Flannery,1969;

Tchernov, 1970; Vita-Finzi and Higgs, 1969). The pace of field research on theNatufian during the last 20 years has increased sharply, producing data on many new sites in a diversity of geo graphical settings. Excavations and surveys have continued in the highlands and coastal regions of northern Palestine (e.g., Bar-Yosef, 1983; Henry and Leroi-Gourhan, 1976; Noy et aL, 1973; Lechavallier and Ronen, 1985). In the have in Jordan been conducted addition, projects Valley (Crabtree et aL, et al, 1988), and in the northern Levant (J. Cauvin, 1977; Moore, 1982). Further afield, projects have been undertaken in the steppe and desert areas of theNegev and Sinai in the south (Goring-Morris, 1987; Goring-Morris

Muheisen 1987;Edwards, 1987), in thehighlandsof Jordan(Byrd, 1988;

Epipaleolithic settlement and subsistence strategies, distinct regional variants are emerging which challenge previous interpretations of Natufian economy and organization.

and Bar-Yosef, 1987; Henry, 1973b, 1976; Marks and Larson, 1977) and eastward along the edge of the Syrian-Arabian desert (Betts, 1986,1987; Byrd and Rollefson, 1984; Clark et al, 1988; Garrard et ai, 1987, 1988; Henry, 1982). With this increased depth and diversity of data on variability in late

The recent development of accelerator mass spectrometer radiometric dating has allowed most Natufian sites excavated in recent years to be dated. This technique also permits the dating of specific subsistence remains (i.e.,

plant and animal species), providing direct evidence for the antiquity of these remains (Legge, 1986; Legge and Rowley-Conwy, 1986). Furthermore, the large sample of dates now available makes possible independent evaluation of chronological models regarding phases within the Natufian which were based on changes in tool form (Bar-Yosef and Valla, 1979; Valla, 1984;

Olszewski, 1987). The most detailed model of temporal sub-divisions for theNatufian is in the average length of Valla's (1984, 1987a) three-phase model. Decreases

Lab No.

*OxA-543* SMU-231 SMU-803 SMU-806 SMU-805 BM-1407 OxA-742 OxA-393 *AA-1461 AA-1465 AA-1463 AA-1462 OxA-507 OxA-743 OxA-394 Ly-1661 Ly-1662 SMU-10 UCLA-? UCLA-? *GL-69*GL-72 Ly-1660 P-376 GL-70 UCLA-? AA-1464 1-5496 SMU-9


Mann-Whitney Results Means of and Tests


Charred pulses pulses Charcoal, ash Charred seeds seeds Charred seeds Charred seed Charred Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charred Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Bone Bone Bone Bone

1000 ? ? 520 ? 4180 ? 160 ? 250 ? 190 ? ? 10790 ? 160 ? 240 39090 ? ? ? 160 ? 170 ? 400 ? 659 ? 150 ? 540 ? 100 240? ? 880 ? 570 ? 800 660 ? 600 ? 180 Radiocarbon age 9,795 600 ? 10,880 280 ? 10,490 ? 430 ? 13,090 200 330 8,390 9,800 11,09012,090 11,920 10,910 12,750 11,950 11,920 12,200 10,800 12,010 11,92011,310 11,740 11,5909,850 12,360 12,910 12,450 12,784 12,130 11,166 11,150 11,475

Natufian Radiocarbon Table by (Early, Organized Dates I. Period Final) Late, Layer

131 IVHouse l.ii l.ii H2 C-01-24:2 C-01-23:4, XXD Plot 8.1 C-01-24:4 Ill-House 51 Loc. Meso l.ii Meso l.ii l.ii Meso 4/74/5 51 C-00-l6:2 PlotXXD Loc. PlotXXD House D B C C C 8.1 8.1 IIIB2 B2 Meso Meso C-00-l6:4


15/16 Fea 24-40 cm 13 Fea

El Wad Terrace Ain El Wad Cave Mallaha Early Natufian Jericho

Judayid Wadi 2 Cave Kebara

Wadi Hammeh 27 Beidha

El Terrace Wad Rosh Horesha Hayonim Terrace Cave Hayonim Hayonim Cave Natufian Late

Lab No.

OxA-883 OxA-473 OxA-170 OxA-397 OxA-408 OxA-407 OxA-172 OxA-171 OxA-474 OxA-430 OxA-435 OxA-386 OxA-471 OxA-387 OxA-431 OxA-397 OxA-468 OxA-434 OxA-470 OxA-472 OxA-469 BM-1719 *OxA-475 Mc-635 BM-1718 BM-1121 *OxA-882 Mc-733 BM-764

Humic OxA-473 Humic OxA-407 fraction Humic OxA-407 HumicOxA-430 Humic OxA-468 fraction Humic OxA-473fraction Humic OxA-468 Humic OxA-434 Material fraction fraction fraction bone Burned redate fraction fraction Bone collagen grain grain grain grain Charred grain grain Charred grain grain Burned Burned Burned bone Burned bone Charred Charcoal Charred bone Charred Charred Charred Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal bone Charred bone bone Burned Burned

160140150160 150150200180150140140150170170160150160180200140110 + 50 82 300200 200 age 10,820 10,800 10,620 10,600 Continued Radiocarbon 6,100 9,060 9,120 10,000 10,250 10,050 10,60011,16010,792 10,900 10,420 10,750 11,450 11,070 10,680 11,02010,450 10,930 10,420 10,920 11,090 10,490 I. ? 10,030 ? 200 10,046 318 ? 150 10,170

Layer E-264-307 V E-261 E-281 E-324 E-275 E-303 E-281 E-252 E-326 E-286 E-285 E-254 E-326 E-326 E-326 E-286 E-286 E-276 E-275 E-326 E-316 E-316 E-313 E-286 E-326 E-275

Bla B4 IA-R34, IA-Q33,

Nahal Oren Terrace Abu Hureyra Natufian Final Mureybet

No. Lab

*OxA-541 Mc-675 Mc-73I Mc-674 1-7030 Lv-607 *I-7032


Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Charcoal Material Bone Bone Charcoal Seed

170170170150140 Radiocarbon age 2,760 200 ?

260 10,980 ? ? 10,380 140 Continued I. Table ? ? 10,590 10,230 ? 10,350 10,090 ? ? 10,230

Layer B4 B4 Elc "Asterisk

B4 IB-P32, that dates radiocarbon were not used in the dating TA-Q33

IA-Q33, IA-Q32,indicate IA-Q33, superscripts


10,649, Natufian: SD 24 Late N mean ? = 608.2, Early 11,847, N Natufian: SD 22 ? mean = 357.5, Final Natufian: SD = 10,217, mean (1987) by Unclassified Valla Cave Cave Rakefet Rakefet Cave Rakefet = 185.0, N ? &



Settlement Variability

and Economic



lunates and the frequency of bifacial retouch were used to distinguish phases. sites are presented in The 67 dates available from 13 different Natufian Table I, organized into the early, late, and final Natufian phases of Valla. Asterisk superscripts indicate unreliable dates (9)?samples analyzed using the early solid carbon method (Henry and Servello, 1974) and samples with tests of the radiocarbon samples extremely disparate dates. Mann-Whitney indicate that the samples from each phase are from separate populations (Table I; P < 0.005). These results, however, must be viewed with some caution, as only two sites classified as final Natufian have been dated and further dates are needed to confirm the discreteness of this temporal phase. For the purposes of this review the late and final Natufian are considered together. The overall distribution of dates indicates that theNatufian may have begun by 12,500 B.P. and persisted until almost 10,000 B.P., a somewhat

longer time range than previously suggested (Bar-Yosef, 1981, Fig. 1). The two well-dated sites in northern Syria, Abu Hureyra and Mureybet, were occupied only during the latter half of theNatufian, while recently dated sites in Jordan are among the earliest Natufian sites. These early dates prompted Henry (1982, p. 438, 1987a, p. 19) to suggest that the Natufian may well

have originated on the Jordanian plateau. It is probable, however, that the "Natufian complex" developed out of a series of local traditions (e.g., 1987, p. 434).


Modern Environment4

the Levant can be divided into a series of north-south Topographically zones longitudinal consisting of a narrow coastal plain along theMediter western hills and mountains, which rise gradually from the ranean; the coastal plain and then slope more steeply down to the east; the Rift system, which includes the Jordan River; and the Jordanian-Syrian Plateau, which rises abruptly from the Rift System and then gradually merges with


Syrian-Arabian desert. Due in part to these variations in topography, the Levantine climate is extremely diverse in respect to rainfall and temperature. Rainfall is restricted primarily to the winter months, with long dry summers. Average yearly precipitation ranges from an extreme of over 1400mm in themountains of
is based primarily on the research of Zohary 4This discussion Al-Eisawi (1985). (1962,1973), Horowitz (1979), and

168 Lebanon


pattern, ranging from 9?C Valley. Rainfall distribution dictate the distribution of regions are recognized in steppe, Saharo-Arabian The Mediterranean

Valley disrupting the pattern. Rainfall shadows occur on the eastern slopes of the western mountains, and in the Jordan Valley, the Beq'a, and the Syrian-Arabian desert. The mean annual temperature increases in a similar in themountains of Lebanon to 24?C in the Jordan

to less than 50mm in the desert areas. In general, rainfall decreases from north to south and, to a lesser degree, from west to east, with the Rift


and highly varied diurnal and annual temperature ranges. The vegetation consists of a steppic forest of dwarf shrubs, shrubs, and herbs. The Saharo Arabian desert has sporadic rainfall and it is often torrential in nature and varies dramatically in quantity from year to year. Annuals dominate the vegetation and plant coverage and are generally restricted to wadis where Sudanian desert contains savannalike vegetation arboreal components and low densities of a lower story of including tropical collects. The

desert, and Sudanian desert (Fig. 1). forest has rainy, mild winters with an annual pre from about 300 to greater than 1000mm. The flora consists cipitation ranging of oaks, pistachios, and pines, as well as annuals. The Irano primarily Turanian steppe, in contrast, is characterized by a more continental climate

and, to a lesser extent, temperature and elevation plant communities. Four main plant-geographical the Levant: Mediterranean forest, Irano-Turanian


Paleoenvironment to reconstruct the environment at the end of the Pleistocene and early Holocene includes deep-sea cores, pollen cores from lakes and swamps, geomorphological data from sedimentary and lacustrine sites. Each of sequences, and pollen and faunal remains from archaeological these kinds of data has inherent limitations, but those derived from archae ological sites are generally viewed with themost caution due to the biasing and disruptive effects of human activity (Turner, 1985). Despite these The evidence used

sites do have the benefit of generally being more problems, archaeological precisely dated than purely environmental data. Six pollen cores fromNear Eastern lakes cover theperiod of theNatufian. These columns come from theHuleh Basin in northern Palestine, theGhab in northwest Syria, Sogiit Golii in southwest Valley along the Orontes Turkey, Karamik Batakligi in south-central Turkey, Lake Van in southeast Turkey, and Lake Zeribar inwestern Iran (Bottema and van Zeist, 1981). The climate during theNatufian

is difficult to interpret from these columns due


Settlement Variability

and Economic



to the small number of associated radiocarbon dates (organic materials are rare in these sediments of mineral origin) and the necessity of assuming a constant rate of sediment accumulation. This makes correlation of sequences between different pollen profiles very difficult (Sanlaville, 1981; Bottema, 1987). The lack of pollen columns from the steppe and desert regions further limits broad environmental reconstructions for the Levant. Additionally, climatic reconstructions based on lake pollen columns can be skewed by the deposition of pollen carried downstream from upland areas (Leroi-Gourhan,

Analysis of late Pleistocene alluvial and lacustrine sequences has been associated primarily with archaeological research in the southern Levant, the and Jordan the Sinai, particularly Negev Valley, and the highlands and arid portions of Jordan (Goldberg, 1986; Goldberg and Bar-Yosef, 1982; 1987; Clark et al, 1988; Garrard et al, 1986, 1988; Darmon, Macumber, 1987). Research has also been conducted on lacustrine deposits in large

sites indicate Palynological data from late Pleistocene archaeological that arboreal pollen counts decrease from theGeometric Kebaran through the early Natufian and the lateNatufian (Byrd, 1987, Table 2). Throughout theNatufian the percentage of arboreal pollen is generally less than 12%.


internal drainage basins, particularly the complex Jordan-Rift lakes and the sequences Azraq Basin of northeastern Jordan. The geomorphological derived from this research are often poorly dated or unrelated to archaeological sites, although this is changing (e.g., Garrard et al, 1988;Macumber, 1987). There has been a series of climatic reconstructions put forward for the late Pleistocene (e.g., Bintliff, 1982; Bottema and van Zeist, 1981; Bottema,

1983, 1985; Valla, 1987a) and several general trends are apparent. First, rose at the end of the last glacial maximum and this trend temperatures continued through theNatufian (Valla, 1987a, p. 274). This is supported by the composition of faunal assemblages at Natufian sites, in terms of both the presence of more temperate adapted species and the increase in the size of mammals (Davis, 1981, 1982; Kurten, 1965; Pichon, 1985, 1987; Valla, cores also support this reconstruction and indicate that it 1987a). Deep-sea was a worldwide trend (Luz, 1982). Second, with the retreat of the glacial ice sheets, air circulation patterns changed worldwide, and on a general level in the Levant, storm tracks began to shift northward until they reached their present day patterns (Bintliff, 1982). Third, sea levels rose during the Natufian, inundating coastal land in the Levant, and although no submerged Natufian sites have been yet located, a series of PPNB sites occurs off the present-day shore (Galili and Weinstein-Evron, 1985). Within the Levant, regional climatic differences existed between 15,000 and 10,000 B.P. and relate in part to changes in global air circulation patterns

1987; Moore, Goldberg, 1981, 1986;Sanlaville, 1981; Henry, 1983, 1987a;




(Bintliff, 1982). The northern Levant was less sensitive to changes in temper ature and rainfall, while in the southern Levant small changes seem to have had significant effects.There is, however, considerable disagreement regarding

Levantine late Pleistocene. The first of these, most clearly articulated by Henry (1983, pp. 114-116, 1987a, pp. 10-12) proposes alternating cycles of moist and dry conditions lasting from 2000 to 3000 years. The northern Levant and the northern highlands of Iran and Turkey were cold and dry until 11,000 B.P., when warm and moist conditions prevailed. However, the central and southern Levant was more varied. A dry period occurred from 14,500 to 13,000 B.P., followed by a moister intervalwhich lasted until 11,000 B.P. and was replaced by a dry warm period from 11,000 to 10,000 B.P. The in the southern warm, wetter phase prevailing during the early Natufian Levant was delayed 1000 to 1500 years in the northern Levant. This was due to a time lag in surface temperature related to the higher latitude and elevation along with a slow shift to the north inwinter storm patterns as the glacial ice sheet in Europe retreated. This reconstruction is based primarily on pollen and faunal samples from archaeological sites and on Tusukada's Basin. Huleh pollen diagram from the An alternative model suggests that theNatufian, and the early Natufian in particular, was a dry period (Goldberg, 1981; Goldberg and Bar-Yosef,

these climatic changes took place, how long they lasted (including regressions), how significant theywere, and what effect these changes had on the distribution of plant communities. At present two competing models exist of climatic variation during the

during the Natufian, development suggesting a wetter period. However, 12,000 to 10,000 B.P., therewas deposition of wind blown sands and stony colluvium indicating a drier period, particularly in the late Natufian. On the basis of her analysis of pollen from layers 1 and 4 at Ain Mallaha (located on the edge of theHuleh Lake), Leroi-Gourhan (1984, p. 103) has was wetter than whether Natufian the other questioned periods. Her recon struction of the site's immediate environment suggested a more steppic than forested situation based on the virtual absence of arboreal pollen at the site's location. This contrasted sharply with the high percentages of arboreal pollen observed in the pollen columns at Huleh Lake; there, arboreal pollen throughout the Epipaleolithic ranges in frequency from 30 to 70% (Bottema and van Zeist, 1981, pp. 114-116). Leroi-Gourhan argued that arboreal pollen in the lake samples was carried long distances downstream from the upper ele vations, biasing the relative pollen counts of arboreal and non-arboreal species.

1984, p. 103). The analysis 1982; Bar-Yosef and Vogel, 1987; Leroi-Gourhan, sites in the is based primarily on sediments associated with archaeological southern Levant. During the Geometric Kebaran A, 14,500 to 12,000 B.P., therewas an accumulation of alluvial and colluvial deposits followed by soil


Settlement Variability

and Economic



In order to resolve the contradictory evidence for the timing and character of environmental change and to determine whether environmental change played a role in the development of different settlement and subsistence strategies, as has been suggested (Bar-Yosef and Vogel, 1987, p. 232; Goring Morris, 1987, pp. 442-443), more detailed local sequences in different areas of the Levant

are needed. These sequences should be based on data from pollen columns, alluvial sequences, and pollen and faunal remains from sites integrated with radiocarbon dating of archaeological archaeological sites. Extreme caution must be exercised in using site size or the density of sites during any period to support inferences regarding the nature of climatic

these differences in interpretation, it was colder during the Despite Natufian than at present and effectivemoisture may well have been greater (Pichon, 1987, p. 147; Valla, 1987a, pp. 276-277). This would have allowed open forest and steppe areas to be more extensive than today. Furthermore, a more complex mosaic of plant communities may have existed which to modern plant included associations of species not directly analogous communities.


Wild Food Resources diverse range of nutritionally complementary edible wild includes cereals, plants legumes, nuts, and fruits (Flannery, 1965; Helbaek, The Levant's

Zohary and Spiegel-Roy, 1975). Cereals (particularly einkorn wheat, emmer wheat, and barley) often occur in dense stands (Flannery, 1973; Harlan and 1967; Helbaek, 1959; Ladizinsky, 1975a). Acorns are Zohary, 1966; Harlan, themost common nut resource, as oaks dominate theMediterranean forest embraced a variety of herd animals, their distribution varied considerably between particularly ungulates, were also quite diverse and included resources environmental regions. Avian summer visitors from year-round residents, winter visitors from Eurasia, and between Eurasia and Africa birds Africa, migrating during the spring and autumn (Alon, 1969). Residential game birds included partridge, sand and grouse, coursers, chuckar, bustard, and ostrich (Garrard, 1980; Meinertz (Zohary, 1962). Until recent times the Levant

Renfrew, 1973;Zohary, 1957, 1962, 1973;Zohary and Hopf, 1988; 1964,

hagen, 1954). Freshwater fishwere abundant in theHuleh Lake, the Sea ofGalilee, and the Jordan River and its tributaries (Alon, 1969). Fish were also available in

172 the Mediterranean Sea,


research are rare (yet bility similar to Flannery's (1965,1969) Mesopotamian see Kislev and Bar Yosef, 1988; Garrard, 1980, 1984). Bohrer (1972, p. 150) has commented that "actual diet in a pre-agricultural era would be more readily reconstructed if there were adequate studies of the wild plant foods still consumed in theNear East." Reconstructions of Natufian subsistence strategies have unfortunately focused on individual sites (e.g., J. Cauvin,

although perhaps to a lesser degree than in the system (Garrard, 1980, p. 94). Other exploitable resources coast and the adjacent included theNile crocodile along theMediterranean of the and rivers and Carmel several swamps region species of marine, and land freshwater, tortoises/turtles (Along, 1969). For the Levant, detailed regional studies of prehistoric resource availa Jordan River

studies of specific resources, their availability in "natural" and the amount of energy required to collect them have situations, ecological wild cereals 1966; Ladizinsky, emphasized (Harlan and Zohary, 1975a). Research has also concentrated on identifying the wild progenitors of culti vated plants

Hillman 1977;

a/., 1989).

Zohary and Spiegel-Roy, 1975). This emphasis on plants that ultimately became domesticated, especially cereals, no doubt reflects a cultural bias on the part of westerners and, of course, the eventual importance of cereal production. It has, however, strongly affected the direction of research and

1975b, 1979a, b; Ladizinsky and Adler, 1976;Zohary and Hopf, 1973;

(e.g., Helbaek,

1959; Harlan

and Zohary,

1966; Ladizinsky,

of the good yields (Renfrew, 1973, p. 154; Zohary, 1957). Examination distribution and frequency of smaller grasses and the conditions in which they form large or dense stands is also warranted. The variation indensity of cereals among the basaltic cobble areas of the northern Levant (which have been documented as favorable), the terra rossa soils in theMediterranean zone, and themore open transition zone between the forest and the steppic areas would have important implications for subsistence strategies (Moore, Alteration of the modern 1983; Ladizinsky, personal communication). environment by man, of course, severely hampers such analysis. Studies of animal behavior, group size and habits, and seasonal variability inwild herds are limited due to the large number of animals species that have become extinct or severely depleted in the Levant (yet see Simmons and Ilany, 1975-1977; Baharav, 1983). Therefore, inferences regarding animal behavior

interpretivemodels of Natufian subsistence. Research is notably lacking on the potential density, expected yields from individual plants or trees, nutritional yields, and amount of energy involved in collection and subsequent preparation of wild legumes, fruits, and nuts. Undoubtedly there exists interspecies variability in edibility (for acorns due primarily to the amount of tannin), yields, and predictability of


Settlement Variability

and Economic



and habitat have drawn on early travelers' accounts and studies of related species inAsia, Africa, and Europe (e.g., Garrard 1984; Legge and Rowley Conley, 1987). Considerable seasonal variation exists in the availability of plant and avian resources and, to some extent, for other faunal resources. Annuals such as cereals and legumes ripen in the late spring and early summer, and mature This necessitates

relatively rapid. Perennials, mostly nut, oil, and fruit plants, generally have a more varied seasonal distribution, ranging from summer through autumn, and nuts can be harvested into late winter (Flannery, 1969, 1973, p. 274). In

seeds are available for only a brief interval before the seeds disperse themselves. close attention to their ripening and collection must be

Little evidence suggests that the availability of herd animals varied greatly during the year, particularly with respect to long-distance seasonal migrations (contra Legge and Rowley-Conwy, 1987). However, timing and seasonal changes in calving and the composition of herds no doubt made certain times of the year more favorable for hunting than others (Davis, 1983). Analysis of avian remains has considerable potential for identifying seasonal exploitation. Winter bird visitors, which arrive between September and December and depart between February and May, include ducks and a number of other game birds (Nelson, 1973). Summer visitors arrive as early as February and leave as late as September. Migratory birds, which stop

addition, the time of plant ripening varies with altitude and latitude and is subject to considerably yearly fluctuations due to local climatic events.

briefly in the Levant during the spring and autumn, are particularly abundant in the spring. These birds include herons, egrets, storks, pelicans, cormorants,

ibis, flamingos, ducks, swans, geese, raptors, partridge, cranes, bustards, turtle doves, and sand grouse (Nelson, 1973). The shifting availability of resources, hence, provides considerable potential for discerning seasons and patterns of exploitation when modern recovery and analytical techniques are



Interpretations of Natufian subsistence strategies have varied widely, particularly with respect to the relative emphases on specific resources and whether some species were domesticated. For example, Henry (1981, p. 428) has asserted that subsistence was focused on intensive cereal collection; other reconstructions posited a balanced subsistence strategy including cereals, nuts and ungulates (Bar-Yosef, 1980, p. 124,1983, p. 24; Henry, 1983, p. 141, 1985, p. 372; Moore, 1982, p. 231) or a diverse strategywhich also included resources (J.Cauvin, 1978, p. 21; Cauvin and Cauvin, 1983, p. 45). aquatic




Moore (1982, pp. 228-230,1983, p. 96) has argued that plant horticulture was practiced during the entire Natufian, while Henry (1981, p. 430, 1985, pp. 79-80) stated domestication occurred only during the late Natufian. Other researchers asserted that there was no plant horticulture during the 1978, p. 21; Cauvin and Cauvin, (Perrot, 1962; J. Cauvin, 1983, p. 45; Bar-Yosef, 1983, p. 24). Furthermore, the presence of animal domesti cation in theNatufian has been contested, with Vita-Finzi and Higgs (1970,

p. 179) and Moore (1982, p. 227) arguing for a form of animal domestication or control, particularly of gazelle, while Bar-Yosef (1980, 1983, p. 24) and Henry (1975, p. 374) state that there were no domesticated herd animals. The Natufian annual settlement cycle consisted of a sedentary base camp

p. 35), Noy and others(1973,p. 96), J.Cauvin (1978,p. 70),Garrard (1982,

with transitory camps located around it in a "radiating" distribution according to Bar-Yosef and Henry, although the precise characteristics enumerated for base camps and transitory camps and the criteria for distinguishing between them have varied somewhat (see Henry, 1983, p. 138, 1985, pp. 371-372; 1981, p. 399, 1983, pp. 24-25). For base camps the required Bar-Yosef, elements included size, depth of cultural deposits, diversity ofmaterial culture (including grinding stones and bone tools), architectural features (such as buildings, storage facilities, and stone pavements), and burials. Transitory sites were characterized by thin cultural deposits, more limited material cultural assemblage (often specialized tool kits), and cluster near the base

behavior. Although specific sites have been labeled "transitory" or "base" camps, no sites have been related to each other in a working regional settlement system and size often appears to be the primary criterion for classification (Olszewski, 1986, p. 47; Byrd, 1987).5 This settlementmodel can

camps. The base camp-transitory camp model, with itsemphasis on qualitative distinctions (see Yellen, 1977), appears to have only limited support from the archaeological evidence and probably does not accurately reflect prehistoric

also be questioned for the underlying assumption that only one settlement in the annual cycle will have the characteristics of large size, thick deposits, architecture, burials, and grinding stones (e.g., Henry, 1985, pp. 371-372;

1983, pp. 24-25). in Alternatively, the Cauvins have suggested thatNatufian occupation more marginal areas had a mobile settlement pattern (J.Cauvin, 1978, p. 20; Cauvin and Cauvin, 1983, p. 45), and Vita-Finzi and Higgs (1969, p. 22) for in Mount Carmel area that the yearly cycle alternated two the sites posited between a coastal and an inland camp. Sedentism or year-round habitation has been asserted for a number of Natufian "base camps" (e.g., Bar-Yosef,
5 The base camp-transitory camp model research in the Zagros (see Mortensen, appears 1972). to have been borrowed directly from prehistoric



Settlement Variability

and Economic



remains. In addition, given the environmental diversity of the Levant a mosaic of subsistence and settlement strategies was possible and researchers have been describing one or another aspect of adaptive variation. I suggest that the evaluation of Natufian subsistence and settlement can be facilitated by what Soffer (1985, p. 249) has termed descriptive modeling, entailing detailed examination of regional variation, and when possible, quantitative analyses of site structural features, material culture, and primary subsistence

regarding the nature of Natufian settlement and subsistence. This is due, in in the archaeological record, particularly with part, to inherent weaknesses to the of lack evidence. This has forced respect primary paleobotanical researchers to rely on secondary evidence to inferwhich plants were utilized and inferences have not always been built systematically from thematerial

1981, p. 401; J. Cauvin, 1978, p. 20; Henry, 1981, p. 429, 1985, 372; Moore, 1982, p. 229; Perrot 1966, p. 477). Despite these assertions, there have been few attempts to evaluate independently the existence of year-round habi tation (yet see Bar-Yosef 1983, p. 25; Hillman et aL, 1989). It seems remarkable that there could be such differences of opinion


Subsistence Patterns Several lines of evidence can be considered in examining subsistence strategies including primary evidence of faunal and remains and secondary evidence of subsistence related artifacts. data on the faunal remains fromNatufian sites are highly disparate, Natufian botanical Available

Natufian. Overall, gazelle was the predominant animal hunted during the The three species of gazelle recognized in the Levant, mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella), goitered gazelle (Gazella subguttorosa), and dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas), have different habitat preferences. Gazella gazella seem to have preferred forested and mountain areas, Gazella subgutturosa typically frequented steppe and semidesert areas, and Gazella dorcas probably preferred semidesert and desert areas, particularly sand and stony deserts (Garrard 1980). For the purposes of this discussion, regional variation in gazelle species is not considered. Although no clear temporal patterns are discernible between early and late Natufian settlements, variation occurs between broad environmental

with only a limited number of reports containing discussions of small mammal, reptile, fish, and avian remains. This is due to several factors?excavation prior to the use of detailed recovery techniques, poor preservation and thematerial recovered being as yet published. Hence, only the faunal remains of the large mammals are useful for examining regional variation.

Table DL Minimum Number of Bones Occupational for Large Mammal Horizons0 Species from Natufian


Red Roe Fallow P C Gazelle Caprine Cattle Pig deer deer deer Equid
Forest & Kebarah coastal E area 50.7 85.2 44.6 83.6 86.8 83.3 85.2 85.1 81.5 82.7 98.2 99.6 77.9 22.1 0.0 0.2 1.6 8.0 3.6 0.5 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.0 69.9 64.7 37.4 12.1 66.7 0.0 32.9 3.3 3.3 0.4 LI 0.0 3.3 11.2 11.6 5.4 0.8 0.0 3.2 5.9 6.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 38.0 E, 6.6 0.9 14.2 5.3 0.8 0.9 0.9 0.0 3.8 2.1 0.7 0.0 7.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.9 0.2 7.1 0.4 2.2 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 0.1 13.5 0.4 1.4 1.1 0.0 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 late; C, 5.2 3.6 12.8 0.9 3.9 14.2 3.6 3.4 2.2 9.9 0.0 0.0 11.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.9

El Wad B2 Ain Mallaha

Wadi Hayonim Hayonim

27 E E L

0.3 0.9 0.0


El Wad Bl ShukbahB Nahal Oren V Nahal Oren VI

Hatoula Hatoula 4 5

Cave Int. Terrace B


Rakefet L

0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0,0 0.0

2.2 10.3 1.8 16.4 7.4 37.6

1432 878 225 357 4522 1432 356 1359 113 2081 246 95 136 184 977 140 27 237


Steppe & desert area

Beidha E Wadi Judayid 2

Rosh Horesha Abu Hureyra Khallat 'Anaza Ain al Saratan

L L L E 69)

18.5 60.7 71.4 25.9 24.5

"See Byrd

(1987, Table

for references. P, phase;

early; L,

tool group


(Table II).6 Gazelle dominate the faunal assemblages of forest and coastal settlements, usually representing over 80% of the sample. Fallow deer and cattle occur inmoderate frequencies, with more limited exploitation of pig, roe deer, and red deer. Caprine and equid remains are uncommon or


In steppe and desert sites gazelle are not as predominant and caprines and equids occur much more frequently. The high frequency of caprines at a number of steppe and desert sites in part reflects sampling bias, as a large percentage of the excavated sites are in rocky and craggy topography. Hunting of largemammals certainly varies with respect to localized topographic and phytogeographical situations, most obvious in the predominance of caprine remains at sites in extremely rugged arid terrain?Beidha, Wadi Judayid 2 and Khallat'Anaza (Garrard, 1985;Hecker, 1982; Henry and Turnbull, 1985). is situated, one In the diverse ecology of theHuleh Basin, where Ain Mallaha sees themost eclectic range of large mammal remains (Bouchud, 1987).
number of individuals (e.g., 6Only a limited number of studies have identified the minimum Hecker, 1982; Butler et aL, 1977; Henry et aL, 1981; Davis, 1985) and hence thismore reliable indicator was not used.


Settlement Variability

and Economic



At Rosh Horesha, however, a somewhat different pattern occurs. Although complete gazelle carcasses were generally brought to the settlement, occasion ally only the meat-laden hind quarters were returned (Butler et aL, 1977, pp. 342-343). Goat carcasses were treated differently at Rosh Horesha, with the meat-poor crania and the lower limb bones of the goats generally removed at the location of the kill. These differences in butchering patterns at Rosh Horesha appear to be the result of longer forays needed to exploit the habitat of wild goats. Certainly large mammals were not the only source of animal protein.

The limited research on variability inhunting patterns, particularly with respect to off-site butchering techniques, reveals differential exploitation techniques. At Hayonim Terrace, complete carcasses of gazelle and fallow deer were usually carried back to the settlement (Henry et aL, 1981, p. 49).


Pichon, 1985,1987). In addition, littoralmarine fishand freshwater fishhave been recovered at sites in northern Palestine (Desse, 1987; Valla et aL, 1986), and the marine fish fromHatoula may have been dried prior to being brought

squirrel, hedgehog, fox, badger, wild cat (possibly for their pelts), land tortoise, and lizards. Avian remains include chukar and migratory and winter visitors (particularly ducks) (Bar-Yosef and Tchernov, 1967; Garrard, 1989;

evidence from the sites of Ain Mallaha, elWad, Hatoula, Hayonim, and Wadi Hammeh 27 suggest that a number of other animals were Salibiya, 1987; Crabtree et aL, exploited (Bar-Yosef and Tchernov, 1967; Bouchud, et Valla 1987; Edwards, 1987; Davis, 1985; aL, 1986). These include hare,


(Edwards et aL, 1988, pp. 551-552). In addition, the earlyNatufian horizons at Hayonim Cave, situated in the forested region, have provided evidence of wild barley, wild almond nuts and legumes, particularly lupines (Hopf and 1987, pp. 117-119). Bar-Yosef, At Abu Hureyra, a late Natufian settlement in the northern Levantine steppe, over 150 species of seeds and fruitswere recovered (Hillman et aL, 1989). The primary species include wild einkorn, wild rye, other wild grasses (including steppe grasses), various edible wild pulses (including vetches, lentils), and the fruits of several trees and shrubs of the Mediterranean forest zone. Hillman and others (1989), drawing on several lines of evidence

27 (Edwards et aL 1988), and Hayonim Cave (Hopf and Bar-Yosef, have remains. 1987), yielded appreciable samples of archaeobotanical The excavations atWadi Hammeh 27, an early Natufian settlement on the edge of the forested region in the southern Levant, recovered the preserved plant remains of wild barley and a variety of legumes, including lentils

to the site (Lernau, 1985). Due to either poor preservation or excavation prior to the use of the flotation technique, archaeobotanical remains are rare from late Epipaleo lithic sites. Only three sites, Abu Hureyra (Hillman et aL, 1989), Wadi



(including the cooccurrence of wild einkorn wheat and wild ryewith specific weed flora and an uncultivatable perennial wild rye) argue against at Abu agriculture" "predomestication Hureyra. They suggest that these cereals may have been growing near the settlement. Since climatic recon structions for this period place the open oak forest no nearer than 150 km west of Abu Hureyra (Bottema and van Zeist, 1981), this interpretation reconstruction, along with questions the validity of the paleoenvironmental the assumption that themodern cooccurrence of plants is analogous to plant associations at the end of the Pleistocene.

bedrock mortars occur only in the lateNatufian (Goring-Morris, 1987, p. 306). Much more work is needed on quantifying the frequency of different grinding stone types and variability in the size of these artifacts, as these data may pro vide insights intowhich artifacts were potentially more portable and which had to be cached during absence from a site (K. Wright, personal communication).

stone artifacts occurs including mortars, pestles, querns, handstones, and stone bowls (Edwards et al.9 1988, p. 544; Perrot 1966). In contrast, steppe include and desert settlements typically lack grinding stones?exceptions In theNegev, ground stone pounders and Abu Hureyra, Taibe, and Tabaqa.

sideration of the distribution and frequency of types of ground stone and (including bedrock mortars) and pestles chipped stone artifacts.7 Mortars occur atmost sites in the forest and coastal areas, although often only in very low frequencies. Querns and handstones, however, are absent at most of these forest and coastal sites except Wadi Hammeh and Ain Mallaha, both of which have substantial architecture. At these two sites a variety of ground

Natufian dental studies (Smith, 1972) and strontium/calcium analysis (Schoeninger, 1981) suggest that a reliance on plant resources was increasing in the earlyNatufian (Smith et al.9 1984). However, the technique of strontium/ calcium analysis is presently undergoing reevaluation (Sillen et al, 1987). Appraisal of secondary evidence for subsistence strategies entails con

and Goring-Morris (1987, p. 446) have all suggested thatmortars and pestles were used for nut processing, while querns and handstones were used for cereal processing. Although ethnographically nuts were typically processed inmortars and cereals more commonly ground on querns (Kraybill, 1977), experimental and ethnographic evidence demonstrates that mortars and pestles are well suited for processing cereal remains, particularly wild ones (Harlan, 1967, pp. 199-201; Meurers-Balke, 1988). The distinction between these two sets of processing equipment, of which querns and hand stones replace mortars and pestles during the early Neolithic, may reflect a
7 For more and detail regarding the study of Natufian the methods used in this research, see Byrd regional variability, particularly (1987, pp. 278-309). the sources

Olszewski (1986, Moore (1985,p. 13), p. 372), pp. 148-151), Henry (1985,


Settlement Variability

and Economic



technological improvement in response to an increased reliance on plant remains. This may have occurred inpart to reduce production costs, allowing much more plant material to be processed in a shorter time, rather than representing a change in the types of plant resources exploited (Smith et al, 1984; Bar-Yosef, 1980, p. 127).8Certainly, large quantities of querns occur in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) along with the firstevidence ofmorpho logically domestic cereals. Intersettlement variation in chipped stone tool assemblages also evidence subsistence endeavors also provides regarding (see Henry, 1973a, 1977, pp. 235-237; Olszewski, 1986, pp. 92-98). Cluster analysis of chipped stone tool group percentages from 38 Natufian occupation horizons reveals three tests of the summary means for major clusters (Fig. 2).9Mann-Whitney each cluster identify statistically significant differences between these clusters 1 is characterized by higher percentages of non (Table III).10 Cluster


geometric backed tools, while cluster 2 has higher percentages of notches and tool group, which is composed denticulates, scrapers, and the "various" primarily of simple retouched pieces. Higher frequencies of geometries and lower percentages of burins differentiate cluster 3. In general, broad environ differences exist between

clusters. The


1 sites are highly

for Clusters of


Stone Tool Group Means and Standard Natufian Occupation Horizons


Cluster Mean
3.05 Scrapers Burins 6.74 12.11 Drills 1.61 3.05 22.94 36.59 Various 13.78

1 SD
2.81 5.01 6.22 1.05 2.30 11.0 7.84 5.16

Cluster 2 Cluster SD
4.74 6.93 8.30 2.69 2.59 8.98 6.63 8.20

8.62 7.62 18.66 2.71 4.40 21.77 14.05 22.28

SD Mean
2.38 1.38 1.66 7.40 7.54 1.96 3.10 3.97 55.33 13.80 14.10 8.99 6.89 8.07 2.34 1.64


& denticulates

Truncations Geometries Nongeometrics

Sample size

13 9 16

8 Note

the abundance

massive quantities of a combination

of querns and rarity of mortars at Beidha, where in the Neolithic of pistachios have been recovered (Kirkbride, 1966), and the use in the early Holocene of the Zagros 1969, quern-mortar (Solecki, measure. used Although in this analysis

10For all

p. 988). 9The cluster analysis used the Ward method and the squared Euclidean the 38 assemblages many more sites have been attributed to theNatufian, are from sites where sufficiently detailed tools lists have been published.

the Mann-Whitney tests mentioned P < 0.01. The only exceptions are the higher in cluster 2 versus cluster 1 and the higher frequency of frequency of notches and denticulates various tools in cluster 2 versus cluster 3, where P < 0.05.

Fig. Cluster dendrogram 2. (using Ward the Euclidean and method squared tool chipped groups Natufian stone measure) of occupation for The horizons. three major clusters indicated are

Terrace D Hayonim Mid. T. C: Hayonim Judayid Wadi 406 Hayomm Terrace B Hayonim Cave Int. Faraj East ? Sekher VI -^ Mallaha IB ? Saratan el 'Ain ? Nahal Mallaha IC - Ain Mallaha IVA ? Ain Abu Hureyra - Dibsi Wadl Hameh 27 ? Ain Beidha C-01:4 Horesha Judayid Wadi 2? Jebel Rosh Oren VI Nahal Oren V- Nahal Shunera XVIII Shunera XIII Khallat ^ 'Anaza es-Shubi Wad B1 K-2:1 Beidha Wad El B2 -El Fazael IV - Shukbah B - Kebarah XV 4A ^ Hatoula 5 4B Hatoula { 2 K-2:3 Beidha Rosh Zin 1 SaUullm Azariq A3 Hatoula Tabaqa Salibiya Taibe



Settlement Variability

and Economic



correlated with the forest and coastal environments, while sites of clusters 2 and 3 more closely correlate with the steppe and desert environ

or, rather, indicates the gathering of non-subsistence-related plant material is open to debate (e.g., Anderson-Gerfaud, 1983, 1988; Buller, the activities which resulted 1983; Unger-Hamilton, 1985). Explaining in the high frequencies of scrapers, notches and denticulates, and simple

of nongeometric microliths and the significantly predominance in cluster 1 sites suggests a greater emphasis ratio sickle-tool higher on the processing of plant material with chipped stone tools at these sites. Whether this represents the gathering of cereals for consumption


predominance of geometries, probably used as hunting projectiles (Bar Yosef, 1987; Valla, 1987b; Buller, 1983; Anderson-Gerfaud, 1983), at cluster 3 sites indicates that these sites may have been more specialized hunting

retouched pieces in cluster 2 is not altogether obvious due to a variety of interpretations regarding the functions of these tools (e.g., M. Cauvin, 1983; Hayden, 1977; Juel Jensen 1988; Gould et al., 1971). The scrapers, if used for hide processing, would suggest a greater emphasis on the of animal and this would be logical, as the steppe carcasses, processing and desert areas would have supported a higher animal biomass. The


settle primary subsistence evidence recovered from Natufian reveals the exploitation of a wide range of resources, both faunal and floral, with considerable variation in dietary focus from season to season. The more abundant secondary evidence suggests that the on of the processing plant resources and, hence, their con emphasis sumption was greater at settlements in the forest and coastal areas. In the steppe and desert areas, the secondary evidence reveals patterned in activities and subsistence endeavors, with hunt intersite variation of available subsistence game herds constituting a major ing locally

cluster into two groups. One steppe and desert area cluster (No. 2) appears to be characterized by a broader range of activities than the other steppe and desert cluster (No. 3), which appears to result from a more specialized emphasis on hunting. The

In summary, the three clusters of Natufian occupational horizons have strong environmental and regional correlations, as sites in the forest and coastal areas cluster as one group, and, ingeneral, the steppe and desert areas

11 to this pattern and these no doubt reflect the oversimplification There are exceptions of the environmental the use of modern and the more environmental classification, boundaries, complex reality of Natufian adaptations.

182 Food Production in theNatufian?


these trends, the morphological organic preservation is needed. Despite domestication may achieve fixation changes that clearly demonstrate plant a mere or two three decades after the first application of the appropriate only forms of cultivation (Hillman and Davies, 1988). Other systems of cultivation would not lead to domestication at all. This possibility of long periods of cultivation of morphologically wild types of cereals makes determination of

At present, based primarily on the archaeobotanical evidence from Abu no and Wadi Hammeh there is evidence for 27, Hureyra morphological domesticated plants in the Natufian (Hillman et ai, 1989; Edwards et al, 1988; Hopf and Bar-Yosef, 1987). Certainly more research at sites with

Kislev, 1984). The use of secondary evidence to infer the presence of agriculture is, at present, equivocal and open to equally viable alternative interpre tations. The presence of sickles (even if the sheen is created by cereal cutting), grinding stones, and storage facilities, all of which have been used to argue for cultivation, can also be used forwild plants and other resources. On the other hand, the recent work of Unger-Hamilton (1988) suggests that use wear analysis of sickles offers hitherto untapped potential on this subject. An alternative line of research with potential for identifying the early stages of cultivation entails research on associated plants which grow in disturbance

to identify the initialstagesof plantingextremely difficult (Hillman, 1978;


in the early Neolithic (PPNA). At Netiv Hagdud in the Jordan Valley, radiocarbon dated to between 10,260 and 9800 B.P., there appears to be evidence of domestic barley (Kislev et al.9 1986). A small proportion of the barley recovered lacks the brittle rachis typical of wild plants; the loss of this brittle rachis, the natural dispersal mechanism for the had seeds, suggests that selective pressures by human populations A smaller the characteristics of the gene plant population's pool.12 changed sample of carbonized barley from the neighboring, more substantial PPNA settlement at Jericho appears to corroborate these assertions (Hopf, 1969, at Tell Aswad, in the p. 356). Further evidence from later occupation
,2Kislev (1988) has recently argued that there is no evidence for domestic cereals prior to 9000 that hand stripped wild barley is indis B.P., based primarily on experimental observations tinguishable from domestic barley.

situations (particularly cultivated fields) and those which will not. This can remains and pollen from be approached by the study of archaeobotanical archaeological sites (e.g., Hillman et al.9 1989; Fish, 1984). Modern botanical field research, however, is needed to facilitate reliable interpretation of plant remains in this regard. domestic plants in the Levant The first evidence of morphologically occurs after theNatufian


Settlement Variability

and Economic



barley, small legumes, almonds, figs, and pistachios, comprise most of the plant remains. However, by phase II, between 9000 and 8600 B.P., domestic barley and einkorn wheat also occur, and domestic plants represent 30% of The dog appears to have been the only domesticated animal during in the Natufian and this evidence, based on the burial of a human youth in association with a young canid (Davis, 1978), is not unequivocal. Herd animals appear not to have been domesticated, and intensive hunting of the plant remains.

lacustrine environment of the Damascus Basin, reveals small quantities emmer of domestic and wheat, peas, lentils, dating between 9500 and (~ 5%) wild plants, including 9000 B.P. (de Contenson, 1983). Morphologically

changes may result (Hecker, 1982). The earliest evidence for herd animal domestication in the Levant occurs considerably later during theNeolithic (Legge and Rowley-Conwy 1986), and Hole (1984) argues that the domesti cation of sheep and goat occurred in the Zagros and spread from there into the Levant. More detailed examination behavior may well provide (Crabtree et al., 1987). of changes in Natufian evidence for changes in exploitation hunting patterns

gazelle rather than human control may have occurred. The age profiles of gazelle fromNatufian sites suggest large-scale slaughter of herds rather than specialized culling of young animals (Henry, 1975; Simmons and Ilany, 1975-1977; Legge and Rowley-Conwy, 1987). Certainly the secure identifi cation of the early stages of animal domestication is, like the early stages of agriculture, very difficult to ascertain, particularly because no morphological

Sedentism, Permanence

of Occupation,

and Annual Systems

mensals" house mouse, Mus musculus, house sparrow, Passer domesticus, and rat, Rattus rattus, occur in the occupation deposits (Bar-Yosef and Tchernov,

correlates has expected archaeological indicators (Bailey et al, 1983; Rafferty, 1985; Edwards, 1987, p. 329). In using the term, I follow Rice's definition of sedentism: "Sedentary settlement systems are those inwhich at least part of the population remains at the same location throughout the entire year" (1975, p. 97). The assertion of sedentism at Natufian sites, such as Hayonim, is based in large part on the empirical observation that the "human com

on sedentism and Research shown that there are no absolute

1967; Bar-Yosef, 1981, p. 401, 1983, p. 25; Henry, 1985, p. 372; Phillips, 1984). The assertion that these small animals with long paleontological histories can be associated only with permanent human settlements is open to alternative interpretations, as certainly these species inhabited other ecological niches and were not exclusively associated with permanent human



settlements. They may well have been brought in by owls inhabiting the cave during periods of human absence (Edwards, 1987, pp. 347-350; Payne, 1983; Tchernov, 1984). Instead, other lines of evidence, especially those based on the seasonality of plant and animal exploitation, are needed to demonstrate periods of settlement occupation. At present, there are few such studies and this inhibits demon stration of seasonal variation in settlement patterns [yet see the faunal analysis ofDavis (1983) and Legge and Rowley-Conwy (1987)]. The recovery of winter birds at some sites indicates occupation during that season (e.g., Garrard, research at Abu Hureyra, 1989; Pichon, 1987). Only the archaeobotanical however, has rigorously attempted to evaluate the question of seasonality. The preliminary results of archaeobotanical research at Abu Hureyra, based on the seasonal availability of plant resources, indicates that occupation occurred at a minimum during the spring to early summer (gathering cereals

and legumes) andwas quite likely and in theautumn(exploiting fruits/nuts)

to have been year-round (Hillman et ah, 1989). Their inference concerning the local availability of wild einkorn wheat and wild rye is in contrast with the interpretation of the earlyNeolithic cereals recovered from the neighboring site of Mureybet, which suggests that these cereals were collected in the

distant oak forest and transported the long distance back to the site (van Zeist and Casparie, 1968). The degree of settlement permanence and intensity of occupation at Natufian sites can be quantitatively compared through consideration of site structure (site size and thickness of occupation deposits), cultural features, and material culture. Cultural features include elements such as construction facilities, buildings, and burials, while material culture comparisons focus on

the intensity and range of manufacturing activities related to chipped stone artifact production.13 No significant differences exist in site structure between the early and the lateNatufian (based on the results of Student's t test), nor does site size vary significantly between environmental zone and chipped stone tool-derived clusters. However, a significantly greater thickness of occupational horizons occurs in cluster 1 than in cluster 3 (P < 0.05), while the relationship between cluster 1 and 2 is somewhat weaker (Table IV). The thicker deposits of sites in cluster 1 suggest that habitation was more intensive or of a longer duration, although differential natural depositional ratesmay distort thismeasurement (Edwards, 1987, pp. 354-356). Higher frequencies of architectural features are more prevalent in cluster 1 sites. These sites, however, also have significantly greater (P < 0.001) areas
Although a number of other aspects of material culture would be useful to examine, in how these data have been reported precluded such comparisons. variation


Settlement Variability

and Economic

Adaptations forNatufian




Site Characteristics Horizons,

and Chipped Organized

Stone Artifact Variables by Tool Group Clusters"

Thickness Mean
Cluster Cluster 1 2 0.65 0.28

Area excv. Mean

196.8 22.5

ST ratio Mean

TC ratio Mean
8.1 8.1

C denst Mean

0.51 0.36

166.9 25.7

7.6 3.8

4.7 6.1


15 10

Cluster 3














ratio, debitage/tool

ratio; TC

ratio, tool/core ratio; C denst, core density.

during the lateNatufian at Rosh Zin (Henry, 1976, p. 318), however, the early Natufian structures at Hayonim Cave are quite small (Hopf and Bar-Yosef, 1987, Fig. 1). Storage features, despite being described as an integral aspect of theNatufian, have been demonstrated at only three sites from cluster 1. Burial distribution shows a clear patterning, with almost every sitewith burials from cluster 1; the burials at Ain el Saratan (Azraq 18) in the desert oasis of Azraq are the only exception to this pattern (Garrard et al.9 1987, p. 21). In addition, at elWad, Hayonim Cave, and possibly other Natufian sites, group burials were more common during the early Natufian, while individual interments were predominant during the late Natufian (Wright, 1978; Belfer-Cohen, 1989). The large numbers of burials in the forest and coastal

features with the occupation horizons of Kebarah B, Shukbah B, and elWad Bl revealing no architectural features.14 Valla (1981) has noted that archi tectural size decreases over time at Ain Mallaha. This trendmay be supported by the occurrence of large structures during the early Natufian at Wadi Hammeh 27 (Edwards et ai, 1988) and the presence of smaller structures

of excavation (in square and cubic meters ofmaterial removed) than do sites in clusters 2 and 3, possibly biasing this pattern (Table IV). Within cluster 1 considerable variability exists between sites in the frequency of architectural

and range of manufacturing activities related to chipped stone artifact pro duction show clear differences between clusters.15 Cluster 1 is characterized by the lowest density of cores per cubic meter and by more retouched tools
14 stone architecture was absent from these occupational If more horizons. Undoubtedly, ephemeral structures had been present, however, the nature of the excavation technique may not have permitted their detection. 15 Local variability in flint raw material does not appear to be a factor in these patterns.

region may well reflect greater occupational intensity and longer settlement habitation, although at steppe and desert sites the paucity of burials may be due to different burial practices or sampling error given the smaller areas excavated. Based on the results of Mann-Whitney tests (P < 0.05), the intensity



more cores per cubic meter than cluster 1 and a significantly lower density than cluster 3. A higher density of cores per cubic meter and higher numbers of unretouched debitage per tool occur in cluster 3 than in clusters 1 and 2. No significant discernible differences exist when temporal, environmental, or geographic subsets are examined. and settlement Several inferences regarding intensity of occupation the in to differences with made be chipped stone respect permanence may artifacts ratios between clusters. First, the increase in the density of cores per cubic meter from cluster 1 to cluster 2 to cluster 3 suggests that core reduction was most intensive at the forest and coastal area sites, less so at steppe and

per core thancluster3 (Table IV). Cluster2 isdistinguished by significantly

desert area sites of cluster 2, and least at the specialized steppe and desert sites of cluster 3. Second, the higher unretouched debitage/tool ratios at cluster 3 sites, as opposed to sites from clusters 1 and 2, indicate that formal tool manufacture occurred less frequently and less intensively in cluster 3 sites. tools per core at cluster 3 sites than at Third, the fewer manufactured cluster 1 sites also suggest that tool manufacture was less intense at cluster 3 sites. Activity intensity and settlement permanence varied between clusters. One would expect that sites that were occupied for longer periods of time show more


large, highly visible Natufian sites and, in the forest area, by cave and shelter sites. Small sites have rarely been located except in the Negev (Goring and habitation short-term of low The initial small, Morris, 1987). visibility disturbances sites and sedimentation, (e.g., procurement postdepositional inhibit accurate settlement recon erosion, historic human disturbance) struction. The lack of coastal Natufian settlements, due to the submerged

In summary, regional differences in settlement intensity and subsistence Sites of cluster 1, situated emphasis are apparent during the Natufian. are characterized and coastal in forest areas, by greater intensity primarily and permanence of occupation. They also have higher frequencies of plant are characterized processing artifacts. Steppe and desert area sites of cluster 2 and a broad a and settlement moderate permanence intensity, activity by Less in the artifact is activities of permanent assemblages. range represented on more activities focused and hunting primarily specialized occupation typify the other set of steppe and desert sites, cluster 3. In attempting to build models ofNatufian annual settlement systems, it record is biased in favor of must be kept inmind that the archaeological

intensive utilization of on-site raw material than sites was where occupation only short-term. If this were so, then these results suggest that cluster 3 sites were the least intensive occupation and the least permanent. In addition, based on the lower core density ratio, the cluster 1 sites were probably more intensively occupied than the cluster 2 sites.


Settlement Variability

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187 of

nature of the late Pleistocene coastal adaptations. Despite these caveats,

shoreline, further limits our understanding

it is apparent that the range of activities carried the out, probable types of resources exploited, and the degree of activity intensity and settlement permanence vary between environmental regions and particular clusters of Natufian sites. Variation in annual settlement systems can be expected in respect to positioning and logistical strategies

expect that in the steppe and desert areas of theLevant, water was more likely to be a significant determinant. For the Natufian, alternative settlement models could include (a) a single settlement, occupied year-round, (b) more than one base camp of roughly equal archaeological size occupied for a considerable time period each year, and (c) seasonal aggregation and dispersal creating both large and smaller encampments (see Crabtree et ai, 1987; 1987, p. 437; Henry, 1987b). Goring-Morris, In forest and coastal areas, which were better watered and perhaps richer in plant resources, the Natufian settlement cycle may have entailed in large settlements during a major portion of the year. aggregation This would have coincided with periods of maximum availability of plant resources?the late spring/early summer and the autumn. During other

were undoubtedly One would factors(Jochim,1981; Kelly, 1983). primary

(Binford 1980), and the seasonal availabilities

of water and plant resources

may have dispersed and exploited low-density resources occurring in somewhat more distant locals. Areas of extremely rich resources, such as the ecotonal may have had year-round setting of Ain Mallaha, settlement. In steppe and desert areas the length of seasonal stays at most settlements appears to have been more restricted, and movement of camps occurred more frequently in concert with local resource availability. More lengthy periods of aggregation, perhaps occasionally entailing year-round settlement, were no doubt possible in portions of the moist steppe near permanent water

periods of the year, when resource availability was more limited in the immediate area of the main settlement, a dispersed settlement strategy could have been employed. For example, during the summer after local stands of wild cereals and legumes were exhausted, smaller family units

sources. Aggregation was probably most common during periods of high resource availability, including the spring and early summer when cereals, legumes, and young animals were plentiful. Communal hunting, possibly entailing game drives, may have taken place during these periods of population aggregation. In contrast, aggregation may have been limited to periods of restricted availability of water (the late summer and autumn) in certain areas of the desert and dry steppe. In these areas a more dispersed settlement organization would have typified other periods of the year, particularly



accurately reflect localized Natufian adaptive strategies requires many further data. The main point is thatmultiple working models should be considered in designing future research. The Levant was highly variable in terms of potential resources and we should expect a complex mosaic of adaptations (see Fish and Fish, 1988). One very specificmodel of the annual subsistence and settlement system is going to be inadequate to account for the full range of adaptations during theNatufian. Future research must aim at elucidating these varying patterns of adaptation.

during the spring and early summer, when patchy stands of wild cereals and legumes could have been exploited. Whether or not these characterizations of the annual settlement system

Evidence for increased settlement permanence wild plants in the Levant prior to theNatufian has site of Ein Gev I in the upper early Epipaleolithic at least one subterranean dwelling, repeatedly subfloor burial) and associated with mortars and and more intensive use of grown in recent years. The Jordan Valley consists of reoccupied (containing a

pestles (Bar-Yosef, 1978, in site of Neve David pp. 455-461), while the late Geometric Kebaran western Palestine rivals Natufian sites in terms of size, occupation thickness, burials, and the richness of its ground stone industry (Kaufman, 1989). Enormous pre-Natufian Epipaleolithic sites (Kharaneh IV and Wadi Jilat 6) with thick occupational deposits, structures, and burials also occur in the more arid Azraq Basin of northeastern Jordan (Garrard et aL, 1986, 1988; Muheisen, habitation 1985). This trend toward an increased duration and intensity of and greater use of plant resources appears more widespread and developed during theNatufian. Subsistence and settlement strategies varied considerably between areas

reacted to the local of the Levant during the Natufian, as populations abundance and predictability of specific resources. Forest and coastal sites appear to have been occupied more intensively and for longer periods of time during the year than steppe and desert area sites. In addition, there is greater secondary evidence of plant processing activities in the forest and coastal settlement permanence and activity intensity characterizes sites. Moderate one set of steppe and desert sites,while less permanent occupation and more specialized activities focused primarily on hunting typify the other set of sites. With further examination of seasonal evidence of occupation, a better under standing of the yearly cycle of aggregation and dispersal will be possible. Natufian, Although thedomestication process may have begun during the no morphological evidence exists for the domestication of plants or herd


Settlement Variability

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domestication occurs in theNeolithic of the arid lower Jordan Valley (Bar Yosef, 1989). Certainly the steppic areas witnessed significant changes in environment and resource availability at the end of the Pleistocene, but it is uncertain under what conditions local populations began adding plant cultivation to their subsistence repertoire. A clearer picture of this major adaptive transition awaits investigations, particularly knowledge ismost limited. the results of further detailed archaeological in the eastern portion of the Levant where our

animals. More pronounced changes in settlement intensity and subsistence strategies are apparent in themost favorable environmental situations of the evidence of plant Levant during the Natufian, yet the firstmorphological

Several Near Eastern archaeologists commented on an early draft of this paper: D. Baird, S. Colledge, A. N. Garrard, G. Hillman, K. I.Wright, and an anonymous reviewer. Their insights and suggestions, although not always heeded, are appreciated. In addition, the author has benefited from discussion with and advice from E. B. Banning, O. Bar-Yosef, P. Edwards, M. Faught, P. Fish, A. J. Jelinek, R. Netting, J.W. Olsen, D. Olszewski,

D. Schyle, and A. P. Sullivan. Elsebet Morville of the Forhistorisk Museum, illustration staffkindly drafted the figures. The initial dissertation Moesgaard, research on which this article is based was supported by an American Schools of Oriental Research Shell Foundation Fellowship (1984-1985) and grants from theAlwyn Cotton Foundation, theEducational Fund forArchaeology, Department of Anthropology, and theGraduate Development Fund at the University of Arizona. Analyses of radiocarbon samples from theNatufian at Beidha were conducted at the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer facility at the University of Arizona through NSF Grant EAR-8512761.

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