Gazelle exploitation in the early Neolithic site of Motza, Israel: the last of the gazelle hunters in the southern Levant

Lidar Sapir-Hen, Guy Bar-Oz, Hamoudy Khalaily, Tamar Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the faunal remains from the Early and Middle PPNB site of Motza, Judean Mts., Israel, in order to gain insight into the economic basis prior to livestock husbandry, with a focus on gazelle hunting. Taphonomic analysis showed that bone preservation at the site was excellent. The subsistence economy in Motza was based on a broad spectrum of hunted species, with mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) as the dominant prey, similar to many Epipalaeolithic and Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites in the southern Levant. We studied gazelle exploitation patterns, in order to learn about the interaction of humans with this species prior to ungulate domestication. Analysis of the demography of the gazelle herd, which included aging and sexing, revealed no age preferences and no selective culling. Moreover, the PPNB gazelle population of Motza does not exhibit allometric changes in morphology, that are allegedly correlated to increased hunting pressure on gazelle populations prior to livestock domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1538-1546
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank R. Rabinovich and T. Shariv for their help with the reference collections under their care; A. Haber, I. Hershkovitz, L.K. Horwitz, and N. Munro for helpful conversations; L.K. Horwitz for the opportunity to measure gazelle bones from Abu Ghosh; A. Landsman for his assistance. The MS benefited from comments made by two anonymous reviewers. We thank the Israeli ministry of Science, Culture & Sport for supporting the National collections of natural history at Tel Aviv University as a biodiversity, environment and agriculture knowledge center. The research was funded by the Israel Antiquities Authority, and in part by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 147/04).


  • Domestication
  • Gazelle
  • Levant
  • Neolithic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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