Early Food Production

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Dec, 03, 2012
Early Food Production
Mesolithic Kebaran Culture 25,000-15,000 BP:
-Small, mobile hunting and gathering groups with small geometric microliths who were adapted to desert,
grassland and woodland environments and the Ohalo site was submerged so there is good organic preservation
with six oval huts and 77 animal species recovered
Natufian Culture 15,000-12,000 BP:
-Intensive harvesters of wild wheat and barley and intensive hunters of gazelles using communal drive techniques
-Their tool kit included mortars and pestles, grinding stones, and bone sickles with flint blades (sickle gloss on
blades) and they later became sedentary and built substantial houses
-Sites were located in "ecotonal" situations like the Mediterranean hill zone /coastal plains/grassland valleys
-There is some evidence for social ranking in burial practices from grave goods like seashells, and stone bowls
-During the Younger Dryas Interval (12,950-11,600 BP) temperatures became much colder and there was reduced
area available for settlement and may have forced domestication of plants to increase productivity
Early Neolithic Cultural Chronology:
-Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA: 12,000 10,800 years ago)
-Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB: 10,800 8,500 years ago) -Late Neolithic (8,500 7,000 ya)
The Early Neolithic in the Levantine Corridor:
-Netiv Hagdud in Israel (ca. 12-11,000 ya PPNA) spans 1.5 ha on tributary of the Jordan River and the site has oval
mud brick houses housing 20-30 families (100-200 people) who were becoming sedentary
-They lived by hunting, fishing, and collecting and there have been more than 50 wild plants recovered
-They cultivated or collected two-row barley with a tough rachis that was initially identified as domestic barley but
it could be wild, since wild stands contained some tough-rachised plants
Gilgal Jordan Valley (PPNA):
-Have evidence of domesticated figs that were not capable of reproducing without human intervention because
the branches must be cut off and planted
Abu Hureyra Syria (PPNA-B):
-Hunter-gatherers lived there 12,500 years ago and it was re-occupied at 11,000 years ago
-They were raising sheep and goats and growing cereals by 10,000 BP showing the transition from round pit houses
to rectangular mud brick houses and the PPNB village had 1400+ houses and an estimated population of 5000
-Theya Molleson’s studies of human skeletons (females) show deformation related to repetitive tasks like grinding
grain and carrying loads on the head as shown by a thickening of upper vertebrae and arthritic toes
Jericho Jordan (PPNA):
-Was a Natufian camp (12,000 ya) and a village by ca. 11,000 ya with massive stone wall (1.5 m thick x
3.5 m high) with towers and there was a cut stone ditch, 3 m deep around the site that would have
needed to coordinate labour and may point to more complex socio- political organization
-The plastered skull found there at the PPNB levels may be evidence for an ancestor cult
Jerf el-Ahmar Syria (PPNA):
-Residential surface structures surround a large circular semi-subterranean structure that is interpreted as a
communal structure and this gives a sense of community planning
-A skeleton with its head removed was found in the central chamber and is possible evidence of communal ritual
The Zagros and Mesopotamia:
-Zawi Chemi Shanidar (10,600 ya - PPNB) was the home of hunter-gatherers who may have “managed” sheep and
harvested wild plants and Ganj Dareh (12,000 (PPNA) - 10,000 ya (PPNB) had people herding goats and cattle by
10,000 BP as well as cultivating domesticated two-row barley
-Ali Kosh (10,000 - 8,000 ya - PPNB) had people herded sheep and goats with a possible pattern of transhumance
(upland pastures in summer, move to lowlands in winter) and they grew wheat, barley, and lentils with evidence of
irrigation in the form of simple canals
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