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Encyclopedia > Natufian culture

The Natufian culture existed in the Mediterranean region of the Levant. It was an Epipalaeolithic culture, but unusual in that it established permanent settlements even before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufians are likely to have been the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. There is also evidence that the Natufians themselves had already begun deliberate cultivation of cereals. They were certainly making use of wild grasses. The Natufians chose central places to stay so that the wild cereals could be harvested in all three zones. However, due to climate changes, which produced drier climate, the Natufians were forced to stay in areas with permanent water. Evidence for the storage of the grain can also be seen at some sites. The Natufians hunted gazelles as well as wild grasses. They are also responsible for the domestication of dogs. The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... The Levant Levant is an imprecise geographical term historically referring to a large area in the Middle East south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and by the northern Arabian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia to the east. ... The Epipalaeolithic (or Epi-Palaeolithic, Epipaleolithic, or Epi-Paleolithic) was a period in the development of human technology that immediately precedes the neolithic period, as an alternative to mesolithic. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... An array of Neolithic artefacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools Excavated dwellings at Skara Brae Scotland. ... This article is about grains in general. ...

Citation: Windows on Humanity by Conrad Phillip Kottak. Chapter 7,pg. 155-156.



Radiocarbon dates of 12,500-10,200 BP (before Present=1950, uncal.) place this culture just before the end of the Pleistocene. Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring isotope carbon-14 to determine the age of carbonaceous materials up to ca 60,000 years. ... The Pleistocene epoch (pronounced like ply-stow-seen) is part of the geologic timescale. ...


The houses of the Natufian are semi-subterranean, often with a dry-stone foundation. However they were located in the woodland belt where oak and pistachio were prevailing species. The underbrush of this open woodland was grass with high frequencies of grain. The high mountains of Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon, the steppe areas of the Negev desert in Israel and Sinai, and the Syro-Arabian desert in the east put up only small Natufian living areas due to both their lower carrying capacity and the company of other groups of foragers who denuded this large region. The superstructure was probably made of brushwood. No traces of mudbricks have been found that became common in the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, abbreviated PPN A. The round houses have a diameter between 3-6 m, they contain a central round or subrectangular fireplace. In Ain Mallaha traces of postholes have been identified. These could have been used for rituals by the leader of the group. Villages can cover over 1,000 square meters. Smaller settlements have been interpreted as less permanent abodes (camps). Traces of rebuilding in almost all excavated settlements seem to point to a frequent relocation. This then indicates a temporary abandonment of the settlement. Settlements have been estimated to house 100-150, but there are three categories: small, median, and large, ranging from 15 m sq. to 1,000 m sq. of people. There are almost no indications of storage facilities. Mudbrick was used for the outer contruction of Sumerian ziggurats — some of the worlds largest and oldest constructions. ... The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (short PPNA) represents the early neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. ... In archaeology a posthole is a cut feature used to hold a surface timber or stone. ...


A sedentary life may have been made possible by abundant resources due to a favourable climate at the time, with a culture living from hunting, fishing and gathering, including the use of wild cereals. Tools were available for making use of cereals: flint-bladed sickles for harvesting, and mortars, grinding stones, and storage pits. Ancient stone tools A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made of stone. ...


The Natufien has a microlithic industry, made on short blades and bladelets. The microburin-technique was used. Geometric microliths include lunates, trapezes and triangles. There are backed blades as well. A special type of retouch (Helwan) is characteristic for the early Natufien. In the late Natufien, the Harif-point, a typical arrowhead made from a regular blade, became common in the Negev. Some scholars use it to define a separate culture, the Harifian. A microlith is a small stone tool, typically knapped of flint or chert. ... A blade is the flat part of a bladed tool or weapon that (usually) has a cutting edge and/or pointed end typically made of a metal, such as steel used to cut, stab, slice, throw, thrust, or strike. ... A microburin is the residual product of the creation of a microlith during flint tool manufacture in the European Mesolithic. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into photo manipulation. ... Japanese arrowheads of several shapes and functions Arrowhead can refer to: the point of an arrow; some plants in the genus Sagittaria; the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota; a place name in southern California, derived from an arrowhead-shaped geologic formation in the San Bernardino Mountains; Arrowhead, a science fiction... Ruins in the Negev desert The Negev (Hebrew נֶגֶב;, Tiberian Hebrew Néḡeḇ; Arabic النقب an-Naqab) is the desert region of southern Israel. ... The Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. ...

Sickle blades made on blades appear for the first time. The characteristic sickle-gloss shows that they have been used to cut the silica-rich stems of cereals and form an indirect proof for incipient agriculture. Shaft straighteners made of ground stone indicate the practice of archery. There are heavy ground-stone bowl mortars as well. In archaeology, ground stone is a category of stone tool formed by the grinding of a coarse-grained tool stone, either purposefully or incidentally. ... These arrows score as an inner 10, and a 9 Archery is the practice of using a bow to shoot arrows. ... A mortar and pestle are two tools used with each other to grind and mix substances. ...

Other finds

There is a rich bone industry, including harpoons and fish-hooks. Stone and bone was worked into pendants and other ornaments. There are a few human figurines made of limestone (El-Wad, Ain Mallaha, Ain Sakhri), but the favourite subject of representative art seems to have been the gazelle. Ostrich-shell containers have been found in the Negev. Whaling harpoon A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing to catch fish or other large aquatic animals such as whales. ... Ruins in the Negev desert The Negev (Hebrew נֶגֶב;, Tiberian Hebrew Néḡeḇ; Arabic النقب an-Naqab) is the desert region of southern Israel. ...


The Natufian people lived by hunting and gathering. The preservation of plant remains is poor because of the soil conditions, but wild cereals, legumes, almonds, acorns and pistachios may have been collected. Animal bones show that gazelle (Gazella gazella and Gazella subgutturosa) were the main prey. Additionally deer, wild cattle and wild boar were hunted in the steppe zone onagers and caprids (Ibex) as well. Water fowl and freshwater fish formed part of the diet in the Jordan-valley. Animal bones from Salibiya I (12,300–10,800 BP) have been interpreted as evidence for communal hunts with nets. Binomial name Prunus dulcis (Mill. ... Acorns of Sessile Oak The acorn is the fruit of oaks (genera Quercus, Lithocarpus and Cyclobalanopsis, in the family Fagaceae). ... Binomial name Pistacia vera L. The Pistachio (Pistacia vera, Anacardiaceae; sometimes placed in Pistaciaceae) is a small tree up to 10 m tall, native to southwestern Asia (Iran west to the Levant). ... Species Several, see text A gazelle is an antelope of the genus Gazella. ... Subfamilies Capreolinae Cervinae Hydropotinae Muntiacinae A deer is a ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. ... Binomial name Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758 Cattle (called cows in vernacular usage, kine archaic, or ky as the Scots plural of coo) are domesticated ungulates, a member of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae. ... Binomial name Sus scrofa Linnaeus, 1758 The Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) is the wild ancestor of the domesticated pig. ... A steppe in Western Kazakhstan in early spring In physical geography, a steppe (Russian степь or step and pronounced in English as step) is a plain without trees (apart from those near rivers and lakes); it is similar to a prairie, although a prairie is generally considered as being dominated by... Binomial name Equus hemionus Pallas, 1775 The Onager (Equus hemionus) is a large mammal belonging to the horse family and native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, India, and Tibet. ...

Development of agriculture

According to one theory (described in 4), it was a sudden change in climate, the Younger Dryas event, that inspired the development of agriculture. The Younger Dryas was a 1,000-year-long interruption in the higher temperatures prevailing since the last ice age, which produced a sudden drought in the Levant. This would have endangered the wild cereals, which could no longer compete with dryland scrub, but upon which the population had become dependent to sustain a relatively large sedentary population. By artificially clearing scrub and planting seeds obtained from elsewhere, they began to practice agriculture. Three temperature records, the GRIP one clearly showing the Younger Dryas event at around 11 kyr BP The Younger Dryas stadial, named after the alpine / tundra wildflower Dryas octopetala, and also referred to as the Big Freeze [1], was a brief (approximately 1300 ± 70 years [1]) cold climate period following... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ...

Domesticated dog

The Natufian culture was also among the first to domesticate dogs. The close bond between the people and their dogs is evident in burials at Ein Mallaha in what is now Northern Israel (12,000 BP). One grave features an elderly human of unknown sex, with the left hand cradling the thorax of a six month old dog, jackal or wolf puppy. Another combined dog-human burial has been found at the Hayonim Terrace. Domesticated animals, plants, and other organisms are those whose collective behavior, life cycle, or physiology has been altered as a result of their breeding and living conditions being under human control for multiple generations. ... Trinomial name Canis lupus familiaris (Linnaeus, 1758) This article is about the domestic dog. ... Underwater funeral in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea from an edition with drawings by Alphonse de Neuville and Edouard Riou. ... Grave has multiple meanings: A grave (IPA: ) is a place for the dead, see tomb, burial, grave (burial) A grave accent (IPA: ) is a type of diacritical mark (as in French crème de la crème). ...


Burials are located in the settlements, commonly in pits in abandoned houses but also in caves in Mount Carmel and the Judean Hills. The pits were backfilled with settlement refuse, which sometimes makes the identification of grave-goods difficult. Sometimes the graves were covered with limestone slabs. The inhumations are stretched on their backs or flexed, there is no predominant orientation. There are both single and multiple burials, especially in the early Natufian, and scattered human remains in the settlements that point to disturbed earlier graves. The rate of child mortality is rather high. It was comprised of about one-third of the dead between ages five and seven. Skull removal has been practiced in Hayonim cave, Nahal Oren and Ain Mallaha. Sometimes the skulls were decorated with shell beads (El-Wad). Grave goods consist mainly of personal ornaments, like beads made of shell, teeth (red deer), bones and stone. There are pendants, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and belt-ornaments as well. This page may meet Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ...

Long distance exchange

At Ein Mallaha, Anatolian obsidian and shellfish from the Nile-valley have been found. The source of malachite-beads is still unknown. Obsidian from Lake County, Oregon Top stone is obsidian, below that is pumice and in lower right hand is rhyolite (light color) Obsidian is a type of naturally occurring glass, produced from volcanoes when a fluid felsic lava cools rapidly and freezes without sufficient time for crystal growth, for example... The Nile (Arabic: النيل an-nīl), in Africa, is one of the two longest rivers on Earth. ... Malachite from the Democratic Republic of Congo Malachite is a carbonate mineral, copper(II) carbonate hydroxide Cu2CO3(OH)2. ...


Natufian sites include: This is a list of archaeological sites is sorted by country. ...

  • Tell Abu Hureyra, Mureybat, Yabrud III (Syria)
  • Hayonim Terrace, Ein Mallaha (Eynan), Beidha, Ein Gev, Hayonim Nahal Oren, Salibiya I, Jericho (Israel)
  • Jiita III, Borj el-Barajné, Saaidé, Aamiq II (Lebanon)
  • El-Wad and Shuqba.

Tell Abu Hureyra (tell is arabic for mount) was a site of an ancient settlement in the northern Levant or western Mesopotamia. ... Kibbutz Ein Gev (also spelled En Gev) was founded in 1937 along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) in northern Israel. ... Jericho (Arabic (help· info); ʼArīḥā; Hebrew (help· info); Standard Hebrew Yəriḥo; Tiberian Hebrew Yərîḫô, Yərîḥô, Greek Ίεριχώ = Ίερή ηχώ, Hierē ēchō - Holy echo) is a town in the West Bank, near the Jordan River. ...

Further reading

  • O. Bar-Yosef/F. R. Valla (eds.), The Natoufian culture in the Levant (Ann Arbor 1991).
  • D.V. Campana/P. J. Crabtree, Communal hunting in the Natufian of the Southern Levant: The social and economic implications. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 3/2, 1990, 233-243.
  • Clutton-Brock, J. (1999). A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Balter, Michael, The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk, An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization, Free Press (2005)

External links

  1. http://unix.temple.edu/~phansell/65online/lect8.htm
  2. http://ancientneareast.tripod.com/Natufian_Culture.html
  3. http://www.france.diplomatie.fr/culture/france/archeologie/israel/abstract/abstract.html
  4. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_489000/489449.stm
  5. "The Natufian Culture in the Levant, Threshold to the Origins of Agriculture," Ofer Bar-Yosef, Evolutionary Anthropology 6, 159-177, 1998 -- preprint -- http://www.columbia.edu/itc/anthropology/v1007/baryo.pdf

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Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary - Culture (2297 words)
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Natufian culture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1158 words)
The Natufian culture existed in the Mediterranean region of the Levant.
The Natufians are likely to have been the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world.
The houses of the Natufian are semi-subterranean, often with a dry-stone foundation.
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