Each of the three phases contained about 50 substantial circular houses and open areas with storage pits. The size of the settlement circa square metres and the well-built houses suggest that this settlement was permanently occupied. The economy was based on the hunting or herding of gazelle as well as hunting other large animals, fishing and harvesting wild cereals. The houses in the lowest level were between 7 and 9 metres in diameter, those from the upper two levels circa metres. They are built in hollows; many had paved stone floors with centrally placed stone lined hearths and the superstructures were probably of reeds and branches. One early house with a paved stone floor and red wall plaster was later re-used as a tomb of a man and a woman of some importance; the woman adorned with a shell head-dress.

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After the last Ice Age, as the climate became warmer and rainfall more abundant, the nomadic population of the eastern Mediterranean began to establish the first permanent settlements. During this period of scientific exploration, hundreds of sites were uncovered, not just Natufian but also from preceding and succeeding periods.

These archaeological activities contributed enormously to our current understanding of the prehistoric record of this region.

The Natufians were the first people of the eastern Mediterranean area to establish permanent villages. Prior to the Natufians, bands of people had moved seasonally, to follow animals for hunting and to gather available plants. The Natufians, while still hunters and foragers, settled in villages year-round, relying on the natural resources of their immediate area.

These resources included gazelle, wild cereals, and marine life. The latter, abundant in the region, was used for food as well as for making tools, art, and body ornamentation. Shells collected from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea were commonly used for jewelry and headdresses, typical status markers.

The Natufians are also the first documented Levantine group to have produced artistically decorated utilitarian objects such as pottery and ostrich-egg vessels. These objects have been found in scores of Natufian sites. Their decoration of geometric motifs almost surely served as a form of visual communication, perhaps to demonstrate ownership of the objects by an individual or to indicate affiliation with a particular group or geographic area.

Natufian art, while it follows some of the same representational conventions of the European Paleolithic in its naturalistic and sensitive portrayal of animals, reflects a new awareness of individual identity and social life.

Natufian burials, often placed in close proximity to the homes of the living, contain elaborate jewelry made of bone, shell, and stone. Natufian representations of humans are both schematic and naturalistic. The eyes, formed by three concentric curving lines, dominate the lower portion of the face, which has been bisected by a broad horizontal band across the center of the stone.

The eyes are disproportionately large and yet there was no attempt to delineate pupils. The nose and forehead are exceptionally broad. The upper portion of the head, slightly damaged, is incised with diagonal lines, which may represent hair or ornamentation.

The base is flat, indicating that it was probably intended to sit upright. Natufian art, it is believed, was linked to the practice of rituals and ceremonies.

In their newly settled hamlets, the Natufians may have used their superbly carved sculptures, animal figurines, and jewelry to represent beliefs commonly held across communities, and to differentiate status among individual community members. Laura Anne Tedesco Independent Scholar. Tedesco, Laura Anne. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, See on MetPublications. Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. New York: Oxford University Press, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Works of Art 9. Essay After the last Ice Age, as the climate became warmer and rainfall more abundant, the nomadic population of the eastern Mediterranean began to establish the first permanent settlements. Citation Tedesco, Laura Anne. Lascaux ca. Cave Stones Blackwater Draw ca. Chauvet Cave ca. Jiahu ca. Neolithic Period in China Pachmari Hills ca. Ubirr ca.


'Ain Mallaha

In the past 25 years since the reconstruction of Shelter of Eynan was suggested by Francois Valla, its image has become almost iconic—a highly cited symbol of early sedentism constituting a significant part of our knowledge on early stone constructions and the people behind them. A new look at the architectural remains and the stratigraphy resulted in an alternative reconstruction, essentially different than the one we have come to know. We used spatial architectural-geometrical analysis in order to study the relationships between the different architectural elements and to test our hypothesis that the series of postholes may have not pertained to the upper floor of Layer IV as suggested by Perrot and Valla, but rather to the successive occupational and architectural episode. The association of the postholes with Wall 51 of Layer III sheds new light on the architectural remains revealing their geometric design, an important characteristic of Early Natufian Architecture, the meaning and implications of which we shortly discuss.


Eynan/Ain Mallaha (10,000–8200 B.C.)

The settlement is an example of hunter-gatherer sedentism , a crucial step in the transition from foraging to farming. At the time of its Natufian inhabitance, the area was heavily forested in oak, almond, and pistachio trees. The first two phases had massive stone-built structures with smaller ones in the third phase. These phases occurred from 12, to BCE.

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