Natufian Hunters

7 Dec 2017

The Natufian culture was hunter gatherer in nature - but they also exploited edible plants and lived in permanent, or semi permanent, houses. It has become something of a historical fact that Natufian people were halfway on the road towards agriculture - although when you look at it from a longer lens you realise they were doing not a great deal more than Magdalenian people in Europe, stone age people in New Guinea, and the early Maya people exploiting the forest margins in Mexico (prior to the adoption of agriculture). The key to how they became so important as semi agriculturists lies in the fact they were the first hunter gatherer group where it could be shown they exploited plants (nursing and prioritising their preferred dietary plants). First come and you are at the head of the queue. It's a perch on which they have been elevated - for better or worse. At ... and another reason, of course, is that the Natufians lived in the Levant where archaeologists had descended in droves during the 19th and early 20th centuries in order to bring the Bible to life. The Natufian culture, it now seems, spanned modern Israel, Jordan. Lebanon and Syria between 15000 and 12000 years ago (the warm period between the end of the Late Glacial Maximum and the advent of the Younger Dryas event). They were the contemporaries of the Magdalenians in northern Europe, and Clovis in N America. They were first known from sites in Galilee and on Mount Carmel. Danish archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed evidence of Natufians living in what was a steppe and grassland zone, in contrast to the wooded areas further west. Its a lot different in that part of the world nowadays - desert has overtaken the steppe zone and trees have virtually disappeared in the west. See also