Between Novelty and Variability: Natufian Hunter-Gatherers (c. 15-11.7 kyr) Proto-Agrotechnology and the Question of Morphometric Variations of the Earliest Sickles

Danny Rosenberg, Rivka Chasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How hunter-gatherers manipulated and utilised their natural surroundings is a widely studied topic among anthropologists and archaeologists alike. This focuses on the Natufian culture of the Late Epipalaeolithic period (c. 15-11.7 kyr), the last Levantine hunter-gatherer population, and specifically on the earliest composite tools designed for harvesting. These tools are widely referred to as sickles. They consisted of a haft into which a groove was cut and flint inserts affixed. This revolutionised harvesting and established it on new grounds. While the plants manipulated by these tools are yet to be identified with certainty, it is evident that these implements were rapidly integrated and dispersed throughout the Natufian interaction sphere, suggesting that they provided a significant advantage, which probably constituted a critical step toward agriculture. At the same time, the Natufian haft assemblage demonstrates high morphometric variability. We review the available data concerning Natufian hafts and offer three possible models to explain the noted variability. We conclude that while these models are not mutually exclusive, this varied technological pattern is best understood as deriving from a protracted formative phase of technological development, progressing through incremental processes of trial and error.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Prehistoric Society.

Keywords

  • Epipaleolithic
  • Harvesting
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Natufian
  • Near East
  • Sickles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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