Archaeobotany of el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel (Israel): insights into plant exploitation along the Natufian sequence

Chiara Belli, Valentina Caracuta, Dani Nadel, Elisabetta Boaretto, Reuven Yeshurun, Mina Weinstein-Evron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Epipalaeolithic Natufian Culture (latest Pleistocene Levant, ca. 15,000–11,500 cal bp) represents relatively sedentary and complex foraging societies, but the plant communities near their most intensively occupied hamlets (in the Mediterranean region of the southern Levant) are not well known. Here we present the charcoal and seed assemblages, and direct radiocarbon dating of select specimens, from el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel, a thick and multi-layered Early to Late Natufian sequence. Wood remains indicate an East Mediterranean oak forest/maquis, with varying ratios of evergreen and deciduous oak types as primary components of the local environment, as well as almond and buckthorn. The highest density of remains is in the architectural phase of the Early Natufian, when the site was very intensively inhabited (15,000–13,800 cal bp). In this phase, wood and seed remains are distributed all over the residential area, conforming to patterns of other finds that show primary discard and no rigid partitioning of space. Comparison of the seed assemblages to Kebara Cave, a Middle Palaeolithic site in the same geographic setting, points to an elevated use of cereals in the Natufian. Our data provide insights into several chronological, spatial and behavioural patterns, which emerge along the Natufian sequence at the site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-474
Number of pages22
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Archaeobotany
  • Charcoal
  • Mount Carmel
  • Natufian
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Seed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Plant Science
  • Paleontology


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