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As mentioned previously, the interpretation of prey age structures may be hindered by equifinality, that is, the potential for more than one process to produce the same pattern. Seasonality remains a potential contributing factor. Though season may have contributed to the formation of the gazelle age profiles presented here, a purely seasonal explanation is difficult to accept given the patterning in the data. A seasonal explanation for the gazelle age structures must attribute all of the Natufian assemblages to hunting in late spring/early summer. The gradual increase in the proportion of juveniles throughout the Paleolithic could also only be explained as the gradual replacement of Middle Paleolithic winter and spring camps by spring and summer occupations during the Natufian. Though not impossible, the likelihood of this scenario is small, particularly since all sites belonged to a single period were unlikely to have been occupied only in a single season. If anything, the overall duration of site occupations increased during the Natufian. Unless Natufian foragers only hunted gazelles in spring, seasonal fluctuations can be discounted. In fact, the widespread distribution of juvenile-biased gazelle assemblages across Natufian sites of varying size, function and occupation intensity in the Mediterranean zone contradicts the latter possibility.
Tortoises The long Paleolithic sequence from the Wadi Meged indicates clear diminution in average tortoise body size between the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic periods.
Slight decreases in body size occur across the Upper Paleolithic and Epipaeolithic periods, but are not statistically significant. There is no change in average tortoise body
Stiner et al. (1999, 2000) interpret the major episode of tortoise body size diminution and sustained dimunition for the rest of the Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic in the Wadi Meged sequence as a response to the effects of demographic increase. The diminution begins at approximately 44 kya, indicating at least one major pulse in human population density. Additional increases in human population density in the later Upper Paleolithic and through the Epipaleolithic periods are better indicated by other aspects of the small game data. Tortoise body size does fluctuate somewhat in response to climatic change. However, the scale of the diminution and its overall transgression of major climatic events after 44 kya, indicate that growing human populations exerted hunting pressure that sustained the depression of tortoise populations.
Speth and Tchemov (n.d) confirm a shift in tortoise diminution at Kebara Cave at the Middle/Upper Paleolithic boundary using an expanded tortoise sample of humeral shaft measurements. Though they agree that tortoise body size fluctuates loosely with climatic events, and that major changes are likely attributable to human demographic shifts, they also warn about the effects of seasonality and climate on body size.
Seasonality could have contributed to small-scale fluctuations in tortoise body size across the duration of the Paleolithic sequence, but the overriding trend in tortoise diminution is unidirectional and lasts too long in the Wadi Meged sequence to be a product of differing seasons of site occupation.
Though climate also undoubtedly had some impact on tortoise body size, the diminution trend crosscuts several major climatic events in the Wadi Meged, particulariy
Maximum (LGM), general global warming after the LGM, and the Younger Dryas, and represent major oscillations between harsh cold and dry conditions and warm and wet climates. These climatic events go completely unregistered in the tortoise body size profiles which represent long accumulation times. The Younger Dryas coincided with the Late Natufian and this study is represented by tortoise assemblages from Hayonim Cave, Hayonim Terrace, and Hilazon Tachtit. Late Natufian tortoise populations show no difference in average body size from the Early Natufian sample from Hayonim Cave, which represents the peak of warm/wet conditions from ca. 16,000 B.P. to about 11,000 B.P. In sum, though it is probable that tortoise body size fluctuated somewhat in response to paleoclimatic change, other forces, most probably human predation, were strong enough to override all other signatures. This is particularly true of the late Paleolithic.
The tortoises are slightly smaller during the Natufian, and body size is remarkably consistent across the duration of the period. For reasons outlined above, climatic change has been ruled out as a major source of diminution at least in the late Paleolithic. The stability in tortoise body size is argued to reflect similar intensities of hunting pressure in both the Early and Late Natufian phase. This trend is of particular importance within a context of broader changes in settlement strategy and human demography that are associated with the Early to Late Natufian transition (see Chapter 9).
Implications of Prey Age Structures for Human Hunting Pressure
signal a gradual intensification in hunting pressure throughout the Paleolithic sequence.
By the Natufian period, hunters were exerting steady, yet comparatively intense pressure on high-ranked game, namely tortoises and gazelles. These long-term trends are argued to be determined primarily by increases in human population density. As human population density grew so did the pressure humans exerted on local animal populations, particularly high-ranked species with poor population recovery. Prey populations were never hunted to the point of depletion, but were hunted with greater pressure in each consecutive period. Though there were undoubtedly some shorter term fluctuations and intense localized periods of stress within each period, the site sample does not have the sensitivity to capture it.
The intensity of hunting pressure remained consistently high throughout the duration of the Natufian period, at least for the sites sampled here. This is important since hunting pressure remains constant despite major changes in climate (see Chapter 3) and site occupation intensity (see Chapter 7) at the Early/Late Natufian boundary. In summary, Natufian gazelle populations are characterized by substantially higher proportions of juvenile individuals than assemblages from earlier Paleolithic occupations in the region. The proportion of juveniles in Natufian gazelle and tortoise populations also demonstrate temporal and spatial consistency throughout the Natufian period. These observations and their distribution across the Mediterranean zone point to long-term increases in hunting pressure, which culminated and then stabilized in the Natufian
The previous two chapters described several clear trends in Natufian game use in the Mediterranean hills of the southern Levant. Changes in the relative abundance of small game are argued to result from shifts in site occupation intensity, but also correlate directly with the temporal division between the Early and Late Natufian phases.
Hayonim Cave presents a unique opportunity to examine the details of the Early to Late Natufian transition with precise geographic control. The site is one of the few that bridges the Early to Late Natufian transition and provides detailed contextual information from a rich, well-quantified database (see Belfer-Cohen 1988).
VARIABILITY IN ARTIFACTS AND ARCHITECTURE AT HAYONIM CAVEA synthesis of the available data for this cave site is undertaken with two goals in mind. The first is to elucidate diachronic trends in site use intensity using multiple lines of evidence. This will clarify whether changes suggested by the faunal record in Chapters 7 and 8 are corroborated by other material classes. The second goal is to comment on site function and define its variability throughout the Natufian occupation insofar as possible using the faunal data. Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen (n.d.) have suggested that temporal
may reflect a shift in the function of the site from a multitask base camp to a special use site used primarily for the burial of the dead. In her doctoral thesis Belfer-Cohen (1988) presents detailed quantitative information on major artifact classes from the Early and Late Natufian phases at Hayonim Cave. Below, architectural features, settlement organization, lithics, groundstone, bone tools, ornaments, artwork, burials (from BelferCohen 1988), and taphonomic and economic aspects of the faunal database are compared for the Early (Phase I-III) and Late (IV-V) phases.
Site Organization Throughout the Natufian occupation at Hayonim Cave graves and living areas were segregated, although the spatial relationship between the two shifts in the Late phase. During the Early phase domestic activities were concentrated in the circular structures (Loci) near the cave's entrance and the dead were buried behind the structures and primary living area. In the Late Phase domestic activities shifted to both a large open space on the east side of the cave's interior, and Locus 1 and 2 situated on top of Graves III, VI and VII at the back of the cave (see Figure 3.5). Human interments were later concentrated in the fill of abandoned Loci. By the end of the occupation the activity area in the east side of the cave was filled with new graves (e.g., XIV, XV, XVI), though faunal, lithic and other debris continued to accumulate in this area on a smaller scale.
Architecture: Energy Investment into On-site Features Table 9.1 compares the fi-equency of built features constructed in the Early versus Late Natufian at Hayonim Cave. The site is home to features requiring significantly different energy investments. Built features, such as stone loci, slab pavements, slablined graves and built hearths, require planning, acquisition of heavy building materials, and construction. Other features, such as living floors and non-built hearths, provide evidence for spatially constrained activities, but the delineation of these areas Is a cumulative byproduct of use rather than deliberate construction investment. With the exception of two slab-lined graves constructed in the final occupation phase, all built
constructed during the Early Natufian phase exclusively (with the possible exception of the slab-lined floor in Locus 7, see Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen n.d.)- The few features attributed to the Late Natufian include packed living floors and ash concentrations, which were delimited primarily by use and were not deliberately created.
Graves Several changes in burial practices accompany the Early to Late transition at Hayonim Cave and are in agreement with diachronic trends for Natufian cemeteries from the Mediterranean region in general (Belfer-Cohen 1991b; Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000; Byrd and Monahan 1995; Garrod 1957; Stekelis and Yizraely 1963; Perrot 1966).
Variability in burial practices within the Early and Late Natufian phases is high and most temporal change is expressed as proportional rather than absolute differences.
Early Natufian burials are characterized by higher percentages of primary interments (75.0%) and lower fi-equencies of individual (25.0%) versus group burials (75.0%) than those from the Late Natufian. Decorated burials (13.8%) and extended burial positions (33.3%) are restricted to Early Natufian contexts. In the Late Natufian, only burials in flexed or semi-flexed positions occur, primary interments (62.5%) decreased in favor of secondary burials (32.5%) and individual graves increase in frequency (37.5%) even though group burials remain the norm (62.5%). None of the Late Natufian burials are decorated, but some individuals (3 of 5 primary Late Natufian burials) were recovered without the cranium, and with mandibles left intact. This practice became much more
Late Natufian (Belfer-Cohen 1988). Overall, these results are based on small sample sizes, and thus are not statistically significant. The trends are provocative, but can not be considered more than suggestive at this point.
Beads, Decorated Artifacts, Mobiliary Art, and Bone Tools Apart from the decorated graves, minimal differences exist in the densities of bone tools, ornaments, and art objects throughout the Natufian occupation at Hayonim Cave (see Table 9.1). Trends are visible only in the abundance of Dentalium shells, whose relative numbers increase significantly during Phase IV of the Late Natufian, particularly in the open activity area at the eastern side of the cave interpreted as a workshop by Belfer-Cohen (1988: 294). Interestingly, during the Early Natufian Dentalium is most often recovered from graves, but in the later period its presence is restricted to domestic areas. The frequencies of bone tools and decorated bone objects, such as sickle hafts and antler are fairly consistent throughout the Natufian occupation.
Bone tools are more common in the open activity areas of the Late Natufian, but the perception of abundance may be inflated by a large quantity of broken and unidentifiable bone tool fragments (5/m^ in the Late Natufian versus 3/m^ in Early Natufian contexts, data from Belfer-Cohen 1988).
Plant Processing Equipment: Groundstone and Sickle Blades Of the tool types that Belfer-Cohen calls "groundstone" in the Hayonim Cave assemblage, only mortars, pestles, and grinding stones are interpreted as plant processing
limestone, and hammerstones, are excluded from the immediate discussion. Groundstone increase in density in the Late Natufian (Table 9.1) and are nearly exclusively distributed in the activity area on the east side of the cave. A cache of at least 10 pestles was found in a slab-lined pit abutting the east wall. Otherwise, the pestles were recovered primarily from small concentrations scattered throughout the activity area (Belfer-Cohen 1988).