Natufian culture

The Natufian culture is a Late Epipaleolithic archaeological culture that was found in 1932 by Dorothy Garrod while excavating Shuqba caves in the Judean Mountains near the Jordan River. Since then, numerous studies have been conducted to better understand the dissemination and characteristics of Natufian Culture.

This includes important works like in 1982 by Moore as Agricultural origins in the Near East: A model for the I980S or in 1989 by Umger-Hamilton as The Epi-Palaeolithic Southern Levant and the origins of cultivation. The Natufian Culture is found throughout the region, with prominent sites including:

Israel: Mt. Carmel, Ain Mallaha (Eynan), Hayonim Cave, Nahal Oren, Rosh Zin, Rosh Horesha, Skhul Cave, Hilazon Tachtit, Kebara Cave, Raqefet Cave 

Palestine: Jericho 

Turkey: Gobekli Tepe 

Jordan: Wadi Hammeh, Wadi Judayid, Kharaneh IV, Jilat 6, Shubayqa 1 

Syria: Abu Hureyra

According to these sites, the Natufian culture existed in the Levant between approximately 12,000 and 9,500 BC or 13,050 to 7,550 BC. Generally, the period between 12,500 and 10,800 BC is referred to as the early Natufian culture, whereas the period between 10,800 and 9,500 BC is referred to as the late Natufian culture.

Characteristics of Natufian Culture:

  1. Climatic Conditions: The glacial conditions of the Younger Dryas period were returned.
  2. Way of Life: It is considered as the Harbinger of Food-Producing Society and probably the first to be in transition towards a sedentary or semi-sedentary lifestyle.
  3. Culture: Natufian communities were almost certainly the forerunners of the region’s and possibly the world’s first Neolithic settlements, with probably the longest continuities in locations such as Palestine’s Jericho.
  4. Food Habits: Primarily a hunter-gatherer community with gazelles as the primary game. Supplemented diet with wild grains found in the region. There is also evidence of planned cereal planting at a few sites, such as Abu Hureyra in Syria, and of bread baking at Shubayqa 1 in Jordan. It is the world’s earliest indication of agriculture. It also has the earliest known evidence of beer, dating to around 13,000 years before present, at the Raqefet Cave in Mount Carmel near Haifa, Israel.
  5. Microliths Tools and Techniques: They employed microliths tools such as trapezes, lunates, and triangles based on the Microburin process. Additionally, they employed sickles with flint blades set in straight bone handles to harvest grain, as well as stone mortars and pestles to grind it.
  6. Habitat: Some groups resided in caves, while others established villages.

They buried their dead in cemeteries with personal ornaments or items made of shell, teeth, bones, and stones like as pendants, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.

Today, Natufian culture enables us to better understand

1) the processes of hunter-gatherer cultural change and

2) their distinctive patterns of natural resource utilisation in connection to a more sedentary use of home and regional space.


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