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the Jordanian deserts during the Late Natufian (Betts 1987, 1991; Gebel and Muheisen 1985). Regardless of location, however, architecture from Late Natufian sites is still more ephemeral than the Early Natufian structures from the Mediterranean zone.
Graves Over 250 published human burials from three major cemeteries at Hayonim Cave, el-Wad and Ain Mallaha provide a large data set for diachronic and synchronic comparisons (Belfer-Cohen 1988, 1995; Garrod and Bate 1937; Perrot and Ladiray 1988). Recent analyses of the burial data have identified four shifts in burial customs with the onset of the Late Natufian phase (see Belfer-Cohen 1988, 1991b; 1995; BelferCohen et al. 1991; Byrd and Monahan 1995). Most of these are changes in the relative frequency of their occurrence and because of small sample sizes none is statistically significant in treatments of the data undertaken thus far.
First, decorated burials, though rare, are restricted to Early Natufian graves.
Second, there is an increase in the proportion of individual burials versus group burials during the Late Natufian, though group burials are more common than single burials in both phases. Third, the ratio of secondary to primary burials increases during the Late Natufian. Most Early Natufian graves contain groups of individuals in primary context, but by the Late Natufian more graves are composed partially if not entirely of secondary burials. Finally, the practice of skull removal, which became widespread during the Early Neolithic originates in the Late Natufian. At Hayonim Cave all of the 13 primary burials
burials were recovered without the cranium. Headless burials are restricted to the later Natufian phase at other sites as well, with examples from the latest phase of occupation at Ain Mallaha (Perrot and Ladiray 1988) and the Late Natufian deposits from Nahal Oren (Stekelis and Yizraely 1963) and Hayonim Terrace (Valla et al. 1986).
Plant Processing Equipment: Groundstone and Sickle Blades Plant remains are extremely rarely preserved in Natufian sites. The relative abundance of plant processing equipment, including groundstone implements (mortars, pestles and hand stones) and sickle blades may provide indirect measures of human plant processing activities (Tables 10.2). Few direct associations between mortars and pestles and plant processing activities exist, but an acceleration in human dental attrition caused by more grit in human diets accompanies increasing frequencies of archaeological groundstone in sites from the Kebaran to the Neolithic periods (Smith 1972, 1991).
Ethnographic associations between groundstone and plant processing on a global scale provide a basis for this assumption (Wright 1991, 1994). Mortars and pestles likely served other frinctions as well, as indicated by the presence of ochre-stained fragments at Hayonim Cave and other Natufian sites. Experimental research has also revealed a strong association between sickle blades and plant processing during the Natufian. Repeated contact between the blade edge and silicates found in grass stems has been shown to leave a glossy sheen on the cutting edge of sickle blades (Anderson 1980; Anderson
Table 10.2: Distribution of groundstone artifacts and sickle blades at Early and Late Natufian sites.
Pluses indicate presence of artifacts, minuses indicate absence of artifacts, and n/a (not applicable) indicates that no data was available. The number of pluses refers to the abundance and richness of the assemblages.
Please note that the abundance and richness of the assemblages also correlates roughly with the volume of sediment excavated at each site. Those sites which were more intensively excavated tend to have larger assemblages. Groundstone is recorded up to three pluses, while sickle blades were recorded up to two pluses.
Groundstone and sickle blades are distributed similarly across Natufian sites (Table 10.2). The abundance of both tool types, though groundstone in particular,
sickle blades are most common in the Mediterranean area, the Jordan Valley, and in highland sites of the Negev. The only exception to this pattern is the site of Hatoula, where no groundstone was recovered from the Natufian layers. Many cup-holes were found in bedrock near the site, but these are believed to associate with the later PPNA levels (Ronen and Lechevallier 1991). All of the regions where groundstone and sickle blades are common were home to seasonal patches of cereal grasses in the Natufian period. The distribution of cereal grasses is restricted to areas that receive at least 200 millimeters of rainfall per annum (Hillman et al 1989). Although groundstone is also present at sites in the steppes and deserts of Jordan and the Negev lowlands, they are less common, as was the estimated natural abundance of cereals and nuts during much of the Natufian period. Grasses also grew in localized patches near springs, perennial water sources, or standing water in regions receiving less than 200 mm of annual precipitation.
High aridity in steppe and desert regions of Jordan most likely resulted in very patchy distribution of grasses, unlike the neighboring Mediterranean zone where water and cereal grasses were widespread and abundant. It is certainly true that the Natufians may have transported some of their cereals with them and thus the distribution of groundstone is likely to extend beyond the distribution of cereals, however the frequency of groundstones in these situations are expected to be lower.
In general, sickle blades are common in Early and Late Natufian occupations from the Mediterranean zone and the Jordan Valley. Although the distribution of sickle blades
some Natufian basecamps in the Mediterranean zone, such as the Early Natufian occupation at Hayonim Cave and the Late Natufian encampments at Hayonim Terrace and Hatoula, yielded only small quantities of sickle blades, as did sites from the Negev highlands. Byrd (1989b) notes similar patterns in the distribution of non-geometeric microliths, which are most common at his "cluster 1" sites located primarily in the Mediterranean zone and Jordan Valley. Non-geometric microliths have been found embedded in the grooves of sickle handles fi-om the Natufian layers at Kebara Cave and Wadi Hammeh 27 (Edwards 1991; Turville-Petre 1932).
Though sample sizes vary, overall the distribution of both groundstone and sickle blades is strongly associated with availability of wild cereal grains during the Pleistocene (see also Wright 1994), and not at all with temporal divisions within the Natufian period.
Abundant groundstone and sickle blades in both Early and Late Natufian sites in the Mediterranean hills attests to the importance of plant processing activities in the region throughout the Natufian period.
Beads. Decorated Artifacts, and Mobiliary An Table 10.3 records the presence and absence of Natufian art and ornament types at sites fi-om the Mediterranean zone and surrounding regions. Data are insufficient to quantify each category, but the presence and absence data reveals a few obvious patterns.
First, ornaments are present at nearly every Natufian site. The few sites that lack ornaments are those that were only surface collected or tested, thus their absence is
shells, including Dentalium and other Mediterranean and Red Sea shells, are ubiquitous in all regions, even at the smallest campsites in arid environments. The distribution of other bead types is more variable. Stone beads occur frequently in the deserts and steppes, and a variety of bone bead types are found throughout the Mediterranean zone.
This dichotomous pattern may be a partial product of poor bone survival in the arid environments of the Negev and Jordan in general.
During the Early Natufian in the Mediterranean region, a range of bone ornaments are common in and outside of graves, though styles vary dramatically in frequency from one site to the next (Belfer-Cohen 1988; Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000; Edwards 1991; Garrod and Bate 1937; Perrot 1966). For example, partridge tibiotarsus beads are common at Hayonim Cave but are either nonexistent or rare at most other sites (BelferCohen 1991a). Paired oval bone beads recovered at el-Wad have rarely been found elsewhere (Garrod and Bate 1937), and only at Ain Mallaha are omaments carved from distal gazelle phalanges the most common type (Perrot 1966), although they occur in very low frequencies at other Natufian base camps such as Hayonim Cave, el-Wad and Wadi Hammeh 27 (Belfer-Cohen 1988; Edwards et al. 1988; Garrod and Bate 1937). The frequency of non-shell omaments drops off somewhat during the Late Natufian, but mostly because of the absence of omaments in Late Natufian burial contexts. It is clear, however, that omaments occur at virtually all Natufian sites, though the richest assemblages are found in the Mediterranean zone regardless of time period because these include the biggest sites of all.
A second trend in Natufian artwork is the restriction of engraved limestone slabs and carved figurines to the Mediterranean zone and its border with the semi-arid steppic zone. The figurines originate primarily from the Mount Carmel sites (Nahal Oren, Shuqba, el-Wad, and Kebara), but examples have been recovered from sites in the Judean Hills and at Ain Mallaha (Garrod and Bate 1928, 1937; Neuville 1951; Noy 199I;Noyet
geographic rather than temporal differences. Artistic expression continues well into the Late Natufian, as evidenced by finely sculpted figurines from Nahal Oren and engraved limestone slabs from the Negev (Horwitz and Goring-Morris 2000; Marks and Larson 1977; Noy 1991).
Summary of Cultural Change in the Natufian Period Variation in material culture during the Natufian period corresponds primarily to geography (Byrd 1989b) rather than temporal change. It is of particular interest that the expression of Natufian culture remained largely unchanged across the duration of the period, despite decreased population density and increased mobility during the Late Natufian phase (see conclusions). A few cultural changes, namely those associated with aspects of settlement strategy ~ population mobility and site use intensity — however, correspond to the Early/Late Natufian division. For example, though sample sizes are small, changes in burial practices have been interpreted by Natufian researchers as signals of decreased site permanence and increased mobility during the Late Natufian phase (Belfer-Cohen 1988, 1991b; Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000; Perrot 1966; Perrot and Ladiray 1988; Valla 1998). High numbers of secondary burials appear to have been created by the addition of disarticulated humans to pre-existing graves. At Hayonim Cave many of the secondary graves include both primary and secondary interments, with the primary interments located at the bottom of the grave. If secondary burials were created only by later disturbance by other humans searching for a place to bury their
to be in primary position. Available evidence suggests that the individuals interred during the Late Natufian were already disarticulated at the time of burial. Scholars have thus argued that most individuals who were secondarily interred did not die at the site, but rather died earlier and were transported there from elsewhere (Belfer-Cohen and BarYosef 2000; Belfer-Cohen 1988; Byrd and Monahan 1995; Perrot and Ladiray 1988).
This interpretation may also account for the lack of decorated burials in the Late Natufian because ornaments are more likely to be buried with primary interments, when individuals are fleshed and can be buried with clothing, headdresses or other attire (Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000). The changes in Natufian burial customs suggest that populations were occupying base camps for shorter intervals during the Late Natufian. Though a few Late Natufian individuals were buried in primary context, attesting to the continued occupation of these sites, individuals generally appear to have been less likely to die and receive primary burial on site (Belfer-Cohen 1988, 1991b;
Belfer-Cohen et al. 1991).
The fluorescence of artistic expression during the Early Natufian in comparison to preceding periods in the southern Levant has been interpreted as a reaction to social stress brought on by more intensive human interactions in the context of increased sedentism (Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen 1991b; Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef 2000). Artistic expression may have developed in response to the need to demonstrate group affiliation, increased territoriality linked to rich cereal habitats, and associated increases in
distinct stylistic variation in ornaments, mcbiliary art, and decorated utilitarian artifacts (i.e., basalt mortars and sickle handles) among Natufian sites in the core area (BelferCohen 1991b). The artistic repertoire may have declined slightly during the Late Natufian, but art and ornaments continued to play an important role in Natufian social identity. Stylistic differentiation between sites remained constant over great spans of time suggesting that groups maintained their territorial ties across the Early to Late Natufian transition despite changes in mobility. This point is of particular importance since it suggests that the Natufians may have faced similar degrees of territorial circumscription in the Early and the Late Natufian phase.
Faunal Indicators of Regional Resource Use in the Mediterranean Zone The following section compiles multiple lines of faunal data relevant to regional patterns of settlement, subsistence and demography during the Early and Late Natufian phases. In particular, three kinds of faunal evidence are expected to inform us about the intensity of prey exploitation (see Chapter 1, 7 and 8). These are the proportion of large to small game animals in human diets, the age profiles of hunted gazelles, and the average body size of tortoise exploited populations.
Relative Proportion of Large to Small Prey Without question the gazelle is the single most important ungulate species of the Natufi^ period. Gazelle dominate the majority of faunal assemblages in sheer quantity of meat throughout the Natufian period, particularly in the Mediterranean region (see