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«Item type text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic) Authors Munro, Natalie Dawn Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held ...»

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Ochre stains were noted on several groundstone tools, pestles in particular (see Table 9.1). The frequency of ochre-staining is fairly consistent through time, decreasing only slightly during the Late Natufian phase. Although never present in large numbers (0.8% and 4.8% of Early and Late Natufian assemblage), sickle blades are six times as common in Late Natufian lithic tool assemblages than they are in Early Natufian samples (Table 9.1). Like groundstone, the Late Natufian sickle blades are concentrated in the activity area adjacent to the eastern wall (Belfer-Cohen 1988).

Other Lithic Artifact Patterns The density of lithic tools decreases in the Late Natufian deposits at Hayonim Cave (see Table 9.1). The most common lithic categories ~ cores, lunates and burins — are best represented in Loci 4 and 6 and to a lesser extent in Locus 8, which appear to have been hubs for domestic activity during the Early Natufian. Throughout the first four phases of Natufian occupation, most cores were the single platform variety. In Phase V multiplatform cores became the norm in more than 50% of excavated contexts (BelferCohen 1988). The more random distribution of core types in Phase V suggests that

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(1988: 276) suggests may indicate less intensive core use and less systematic tool procurement.


Faunal indicators are were used to gauge occupation intensity at Hayonim Cave, in particular the relative proportions of small game species, the frequency of natural and cultural damage on bone, and the intensity of carcass processing in the case of the most important food species. The Early and Late Natufian faunal assemblages are also examined for clues on site function by comparing patterns of human prey selection and use, with a special note on modified tortoise fragments, the only worked bone class from Hayonim Cave not previously examined by Belfer-Cohen (1988).

Relative Proportions of Small Game The theoretical and empirical basis for using the relative abundance of small game as an indictor of site use intensity was presented in Chapters 1 and 7. The results from Hayonim Cave show an abrupt increase in the proportion of high-ranked small prey (tortoises) in relation to their low-ranked counterparts (partridges and hares), beginning with the Late Natufian occupation at Hayonim Cave and peaking in the last Phase of occupation in the cave (see Figure 7.5). This is the opposite of what is expected to result from long duration site occupation.

Taphonomic Summary of Natufian Faunas

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Natufian assemblages from Hayonim Cave are summarized in Table 9.2. The categories of damage are alike in both the Early and Late Natufian assemblages indicating that they had similar depositional histories. This is not surprising given that the assemblages were created in the same general time period and were recovered from similar depositional environments. The only obvious difference between the assemblages is in the proportion of burning. The Late Natufian assemblage from Hayonim Cave is burned at substantially greater frequencies (21.2%) than that of the earlier Natufian phase (15.8%). This difference, however, can be explained by spatial patterning.

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Table 9.2: Taphonomic summary of Early and Late Natufian assemblages from Hayonim Cave.

Numbers in parentheses represent percentage of assemblage affected. Numbers outside of parentheses indicate the NISP of damaged specimens.

The high proportion of burning in the Late Natufian deposits is inflated by the presence of one large burned area packed with ash, burned slabs, and bone, and concentrated in squares Q26, P26 and P27. Very high percentages of bones recovered from these squares were burned (35.6%) and many of the bones were calcined (16.0%),

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When the bones from these squares are eliminated from the sample, die frequency of burning on Late Natufian bone drops to 17.9% and does not differ significantly from that of the Early Natufian assemblage (15.8%).

Some of the more subtle taphonomic differences between the three assemblages are more informative (see Table 9.2). Many categories of taphonomic damage occur in such low frequencies (i.e., a few percentages or less) that the differences between assemblages appear less profound than the more common damage types. Still, a difference of only one or two percentage points can be important in certain damage categories. With this in mind, notable differences between the Early and Late Natufian layers exist in the proportions of weathering, root etching, and rodent gnawing. During the Early Natufian 2.0% of the Hayonim Cave assemblage displays evidence for weathering and L8% of bones were corroded by root activity. The frequency of both types of damage increase by approximately twofold during the Late Natufian (3.3% weathered, 3.3% root etched), implying relatively longer time for non-anthropogenic processes to damage bone. The implications of these results are discussed below.

The Distribution of Modified Tortoise Shells The proportion of modified tortoise segments in comparison to total tortoise fragments decreases by nearly three times from 13.8% in the Early Natufian to 4.8% in the Late phase (see Table 9.3). This decline is not simply a byproduct of inflated tortoise

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The data summarized above illustrate changes in aspects of material culture at Hayonim Cave, some of which correspond directly to the Early (Phases I-III) to Late Natufian transition (Phases IV-V). Those shifts that correspond to the division between the Early to Late Natufian are also linked to changes in site use intensity. There is a stark contrast in the energy invested into built features, which, with the exception of two slablined graves, were constructed nearly exclusively in the Early Natufian phase. The permanence of shelter and other features such as hearths and floors are expected to correlate inversely with the degree of human mobility (e.g., Binford 1990; Kelly 1995).

Mobile foragers that make frequent residential moves must make and break camp each time they move. Permanent architecture is energetic overkill for such brief occupations,

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both. The energy required for construction activities is better expended on other more immediate demands during short occupations. Though investing in architecture can result in certain kinds of long-term gains, this is likely only if one is reasonably sure to reoccupy the site for long enough periods to reap the benefits. The termination of major construction during the Late Natufian at Hayonim Cave suggests that it was no longer worthwhile to significantly invest in the site, most probably because of a decrease in site occupation intensity.

Increases in the number of secondary inhumations and the absence of decorated burials in Late Natufian graves at Hayonim Cave may indicate a decrease in site occupation intensity and associated increases in mobility during the Late Natufian phase.

The skeletal remains of individuals who died elsewhere were later transported to Hayonim Cave for burial (cf Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000; Perrot 1966). The absence of decorations in Late Natufian burials also supports the interpretation that individuals were already skeletonized at the time of burial, since ornaments are most likely to be associated with clothing or fully fleshed bodies (Belfer-Cohen 1991b; BelferCohen et al. 1991). The few primary burials recovered fi-om Late Natufian contexts suggest that the Natufians continued to occupy Hayonim Cave and that some individuals died while in residence at the site or nearby, but not to the extent seen in the Early Natufian.

Taphonomic indicators, such as in situ weathering and root etching, provide coarse-grained commentary on the intensity of site use. The fi-equencies of weathering and root etching roughly double during the Late Natufian at Hayonim Cave. Because weathering occurs after deposition but prior to burial, its intensity should vary directly with the amount of time a bone spends on the surface. Rapid accumulation of debris in tandem with anthropogenic activity, reduces the time a bone spends on the surface and its chance of becoming weathered. Bones are expected to be buried more rapidly during periods of occupation, and especially when rebuilding occurs. Root etching occurs as bones are lightly buried if plant growth is not checked by space clearing and human traffic. Some roots penetrate deeply into the soil, but in general, as the depth of burial increases, the chance of rootlet damage declines. Root etching is more likely to occur during periods when sites are not heavily occupied, since human activity causes disturbance which repress plant re-colonization. Weathering and root etching are thus expected to be most apparent during breaks in human occupation, or during periods of reduced occupation intensity. Of course some damage may also be much more recent, since the site was abandoned long ago.

Much of the faunal data indicates remarkable consistency in hunting and butchering strategies throughout the Natufian period at Hayonim Cave. The Natufians continued to hunt the same spectrum of animals and butchered their carcasses with the same intensity and using the same basic techniques in the Early and Late phases. The only major difference in hunting strategy is the dramatic increase in the capture of highranked tortoises in comparison to low-ranked small game species (birds and hares). The

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somewhat depleted state of tortoise and gazelle populations throughout the Natufian, this could only mean that Natufian people were more lightly distributed on the local landscape. Because the Natufians reverted from prey that require more technological sophistication to capture (i.e., birds and hares) in the Early phase to those that can be captured easily by hand in the Late phase, technological innovation could not have been a factor in this economic shift. The similarity in all other aspects of the Natufian faunal assemblages makes the shift in small game use even more significant from a demographic point of view, an interpretation supported by the other non-faunal lines of evidence discussed above.

In sum, it appears that there was a significant drop in the intensity of human occupation at Hayonim Cave beginning, with the onset of the Late Natufian, and becoming increasingly more ephemeral by the final stage of Natufian habitation in the cave. Despite the significant decrease in site use intensity during the Late Natufian phase, people continued to use the site on a reduced scale, for burial of their dead and as a base for the extraction of plant and animal resources. It must be noted that this interpretation does not account for the role of Hayonim Terrace which is located directly outside the mouth of Hayonim Cave. The cave and terrace were most likely utilized simultaneously at least at some stages during the occupation, perhaps for different purposes. The fauna from the Late Natufian occupations from both sites, however, are extremely similar in composition and taphonomy, and strongly suggest that the intensity

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Some changes in material culture exist from the Early to Late Natufian at Hayonim Cave, but these do not seem to be the product of changing site function. The abundance of artifacts commonly associated with ritual activity, including ornaments, art, and ochre, show no increase in frequency in grave fill or activity areas during the Late Natufian. Ornaments disappear entirely from grave contexts during the latter part of the occupation, but this is probably linked to the rise in secondary burials. Decorated bone and other mobiliary art, such as engraved limestone slabs decrease in frequency during the Late Natufian phase, both in graves and domestic contexts. Dentaliiim shell beads are the only ornamental class that increases in the Late Natufian, however they are distributed nearly entirely within domestic reflise. Dentalium shells are scattered in great quantities in the open area along the east wall of the cave with the onset of the Late Natufian.

Finally, the use of ochre is commonly associated with ritual activity in many prehistoric contexts, and it is present at Hayonim Cave in small chunks and as residues on groundstone implements. Over 30 ochre-stained groundstone tools have been found at Hayonim. They are more common in the Early than in the Late Natufian phase, but the context of their use is unknown. In summary, there is variation in the representation of artifacts with ritual association across the Natufian period, but there is no clear trend in the overall abundance of non-utilitarian objects, other than their reduction in grave

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There is good evidence that despite the reduction in site occupation intensity during the Late Natufian, the full spectrum of domestic activities continued at the site, and in a few cases may have intensified. The diversity of forms in the lithic and bone tool assemblages persists across the duration of the Natufian cultural period at Hayonim Cave, providing evidence for a broad range of activities throughout the occupation. The frequencies of specialized plant processing tools, including mortars, pestles, and sickle blades, increased during the Late Natufian, such objects are concentrated along the eastern wall of the cave, the primary activity area during the formation of the Late Natufian deposits. Pestles were usually concentrated in small groups and caches. Sickle blades are at least two to three times more abundant in Late Natufian deposits than they were in any of the first three phases of occupation at the site, and they are also concentrated in the activity area along the caves eastern wall. There is clear evidence for resource intensification in both phases. However faunal evidence shows that fewer people could have been supported by it in the Late Phase.

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