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A back-up method follows Davis' (1983) original strategy and includes a combined sample of several elements that fuse between the age of 10-15 months. These data were less commonly available in published literature, but they are used when present to cross check results (see Table 8.2). These methods do have their pitfalls, but when used consistently across time periods, they can be used to discern broad synchronic and diachronic trends.
Table 8.2: Proportion of unfused elements represented at Paleolithic sites from the Mediterranean zone in the Levant.
"% UF Metapodial" refers to the proportion of gazelle distal metapodials that are unfused. "% UF Combined" refers to the combined percentage of unfused distal tibia, tuber calcis of the calcaneum.
distal femur and distal radius for gazelle. Numbers outside of parentheses are percentages of unfused elements and numbers in parentheses are the NISP of total elements in each sample.
Figure 8.7: Average proportion of unfused distal metapodials from Middle Paleolithic (MP, n = 2), Upper Paleolithic (UP, n = 5), Kebaran (K.
EB, n = 3), and Natufian (NAT, n = 7) assemblages. Note that the number of sites sampled for each cultural period is small. Data sources summarized in Table 8.2.
The gradual long-term increase in the proportion of juvenile gazelle from the Middle Paleolithic to the Natufian originally observed by Davis (1983) is upheld in the expanded sample of fusion data presented in Table 8.2. Both the metapodial and combined long bone sample show clear unidirectional increases in the proportion of juvenile gazelles from the Middle Paleolithic through the Natufian period. The proportion of unfused metapodials does not exceed 30% in any Middle and Upper Paleolithic assemblage. The Kebaran assemblages are represented by less than 30% juvenile gazelles less in two of the three assemblages. Although the average for Natufian assemblages is not much higher, juveniles comprise more than 30% of the gazelle assemblage in all nine samples. The site samples for cultural periods other than the Natufian are fairly small, and each cultural period includes an occasional outlier, but the underlying trend for both metapodials (Figure 8.7) and the combined sample (Figure 8.8) is the same.
The Paleolithic Sequence from the Wadi Meged, Israel Comparative data on gazelle tooth wear and eruption sequences, and tortoise body-size measures are available from M. Stiner (pre-Natufian cases only) for the Paleolithic occupation sequence in the Wadi Meged in the western Galilee of Israel. The Wadi Meged sites include Hayonim Cave where Mousterian, Aurignacian, Kebaran, and Early and Late Natufian components are preserved, a Late Natufian occupation on the terrace outside the cave (Hayonim Terrace), and Meged Rockshelter, which preserves late Upper Paleolithic and Early Kebaran deposits (Kuhn et al. n.d.; Stiner and Tchemov
of the Levantine cultural sequence that retains tight geographic control. The mortality data from the Early and Late Natufian layers in Hayonim Cave are collapsed and treated as one sample for the analysis on gazelle tooth wear and eruption, owing to small sample sizes and the apparent similarity in the gazelle age structures of in the two components.
Gazelle Tooth Eruption and Wear Results Figure 8.9 shows the proportion of juvenile gazelles identified using tooth eruption and wear stages in the Wadi Meged assemblages. There is a stark contrast in the proportion of juveniles represented in the earlier Paleolithic periods in the sequence and those from the Natufian period. Just over 50.0% of the gazelles hunted at both Hayonim Cave and Terrace during the Natufian were juveniles, compared to a maximum of 26.0% in all earlier assemblages.
When plotted on a triangular graph, the nature of the differences between the Natufian and earlier Paleolithic assemblages are clarified. The triangular plot allows one to quickly spot differences in the age mortality profiles of prey assemblages. The graph is composed of three axes representing the relative proportions of juvenile, prime, and senescent (old) animals in an assemblage. The resulting three-dimensional space is divided into areas referring to ranges of variation associated with distinct mortality patterns (see Figure 8.10). For example, the area on Figure 8.10 marked "living structure" represents prey age structures that mimic the expected proportions of age groups in stable, growing, and declining living populations. Living structures are characterized by high proportions of prime and juvenile animals and relatively low proportions of old individuals. All pre-Natufian assemblages are living structure patterns or biased toward prime adults. On the other hand, the mortality profiles of both Natufian assemblages are clearly U-shaped (attritional). U-shaped distributions have heightened proportions of the more vulnerable age groups (old adults and juveniles) in comparison to living structure patterns. In other words, prime aged animals are underrepresented in the Natufian death assemblages, the opposite of earlier culling practices. The Natufian pattern thus shows a marked departure from all earlier hunted assemblages in the Wadi Meged and Paleolithic hunted faunas in general it must reflect either a dramatic change in procurement strategy and/or in the natural composition of gazelle populations available to
Figure 8.10: Age structures derived from tooth wear and eruption sequences of gazelle from Paleolithic sites in the Wadi Meged.
HC(NAT) = Hayonim Cave Natufian, HT(NAT) = Hayonim Terrace Natufian, HC(KEB) = Hayonim Cave Kebaran, MG(EKEB) = Meged Early Kebaran, HC(EMP) = Hayonim Cave Early Mousterian.
Tortoise Body Size Results Trends in body size reduction of Paleolithic tortoises in the Wadi Meged have been presented elsewhere (Stiner et al. 1999, 2000) and are only briefly summarized here.
Stiner et al. (1999, 2000) present a sequence of tortoise humeral shaft breadth measurements from the Middle Paleolithic through Natufian periods in the Wadi Meged.
Overall, the sequence shows a clear trend in tortoise body size diminution, despite minor fluctuations within the Middle Paleolithic period (Stiner et al. 1999, 2000: Figure 8.11).
Variation in mean tortoise body size in the Middle Paleolithic is most probably linked to fluctuating food supplies, since the growth of tortoises is sensitive to availability and quality of forage, which is related to climate. Within the sequence, there is one major episode of diminution that is not explained by major climatic events (Figure 8.11). A
transition (ca. 44 kya). This drop is substantiated by an enlarged tortoise sample from Kebara Cave for the late Middle Paleolithic and early Upper only.
Figure 8.11: Average medio-Iateral breadth measurement of narrowest point on tortoise humeral shaft plus and minus one standard deviation.
Sites are all Paleolithic occupations in the Wadi Meged, Israel.
HAYC is Hayonim Cave, MEGD is Meged Rockshelter. Pre-Natufian data from Stiner et al. (2000).
Variation Within The Natuflan Period Gazelle tooth wear and eruption sequences for the Natufian period are limited to Hayonim Cave and Hayonim Terrace and were reported in the preceding discussion on long-term change in the Wadi Meged. Detailed fusion data on multiple elements are limited to the Early and Late assemblages from Hayonim Cave. A larger sample of
available only from Hilazon Tachtit, Hayonim Terrace, and the Early and Late components from Hayonim Cave. The el-Wad sample is inadequate for comparison.
Gazelle Tooth Eruption and Wear Results The tooth wear and eruption data reported earlier (Figures 8.9 and 8.10) reveal high proportions of juveniles at Hayonim Cave (50%) and Hayonim Terrace (53%).
Published data for the distal metapodial, and where possible, the distal tibia, tuber calcis of the calcaneum, distal femur, and distal radius (see Table 8.2), support this trend.
Though some variation is present, the proportion of unfused gazelle metapodials in Natufian sites is consistently high (ranging between 32.6 and 54.7%) in comparison to earlier Paleolithic periods. The dental eruption and wear data and fusion data for Natufian gazelles indicate a widespread change in the nature of the human-gazelle relationship in the Mediterranean zone by the Natufian period, which remained consistent through both the Early and Late Natufian phases.
Gazelle Bone Fusion Results from Hayonim Cave Hayonim Cave is the only site with the temporal resolution and sample sizes sufficient to address diachronic change in gazelle population structure within the Natufian period. The fusion data is divided into Early and Late Natufian samples and the proportion of unfused elements is determined separately for the distal tibia, tuber calcis of the calcaneum, distal metapodial, distal femur, and distal radius. Figure 8.12 presents the results with the elements arranged in the sequence in which they fuse. Because each subsequent element fuses at a slightly later age, the proportion of unfused elements is not
should be higher for elements that fuse at older ages.
The data presented in Figure 8.12 indicate that there are high proportions of unfused gazelle elements (between 25% and 57%) in both the Early and Late Natufian deposits at Hayonim Cave. A high percentage of gazelles were culled before they reached 18 months of age, regardless of phase. These results corroborate the tooth wear and eruption data fi-om Hayonim Cave (50% juveniles approximately 18 months and younger). In general elements that fuse at older ages are represented by the highest 0.6 1
Figure 8.12: Proportion of select unfused gazelle elements from Late and Early Natufian assemblages from Hayonim Cave.
Elements are listed in the temporal order in which they fuse.
proportions of unfused specimens, with the exception of the distal metapodial. The metapodials (metacarpals and metatarsals) are represented by much larger samples than
treated with caution. Overall, the consistency of the results support the pattern discussed previously, despite small samples for some elements. There are no significant differences in the proportions of unfused gazelle elements between the Early and Late Natufian assemblages from the cave, but the Natufian is very different from earlier periods.
Though differences between the Natufian phases exist, they range between only 5 and 10% of total sample sizes. Except for the distal tibia, the proportion of juveniles in the Late Natufian assemblage from Hayonim Cave is slightly greater than in the Early phase, but the difference is small and most likely explained by random variation.
Tortoise Body Size Results The sample sizes of tortoise humeri from the Natufian assemblages are adequate for analysis (Hayonim Cave Early NISP = 27, Hayonim Cave Late NISP = 60, Hayonim Terrace NISP = 104 and Hilazon Tachtit NISP = 27). The average medio-lateral breadth of the narrowest point on the humeral shaft and associated standard deviations are plotted for each Natufian sample in Figure 8.13. Much overlap between the means and standard deviations of all of the samples indicates that tortoise populations had essentially the same mean body sizes throughout the Natufian period. The Natufian tortoises, are however, the smallest of any Paleolithic period. Sample sizes for the shaft breadth measurements of tortoise femurs are smaller (HAYC Early NISP = 7, HAYC Late NISP = 20, HAYT NISP = 37, HLZT NISP = 17), but reveal similar results, with no
Figure 8.13: Average medio-lateral breadth of the narrowest point on the tortoise humerus shaft, plus and minus one standard deviation.
Measurements of tortoise assemblages from Natufian sites in Israel. HAYC is Hayonim Cave, HAYT is Hayonim Terrace, and HLZT is Hilazon Tachtit.
Gazelles According to both tooth wear and fusion data, the proportion of juveniles in gazelle populations increased dramatically over time, reaching its highest level in the Natufian period in the Wadi Meged, and the greater Mediterranean region of the southern Levant. In general, pre-Natufian gazelle populations have living structure or primedominated profiles (see Figure 8.10). In the Natufian period the proportion ofjuveniles rises to between 30 and 50%. Gazelle mortality profiles are characterized by consistently high proportions of juvenile gazelles in both the Early and Late Natufian periods.
The sudden and dramatic increase in juvenile gazelles in the Natufian period seems to be the result of an increase in human hunting pressure. If correct, prime aged animals were no longer sufficiently abundant to meet human needs, due to age depression. Natufians would be forced to cull larger numbers of low-ranked juveniles to make ends meet. However, the Natufian assemblages are represented by proportions of juveniles above and beyond those expected in a stable gazelle living structure (see Chapter 6, Baharav 1974). Even if changes in prey age structures were created by a shift to less discriminatory hunting strategies (i.e., ambush, encounter, or communal hunting), the effect is exceptional relative to earlier Paleolithic periods. Increased hunting intensity is still implicated as the major determinant of juvenile-biased Natufian structures, but it