The Natufian culture of the southern Levant played an integral role in the transition from simple hunter gatherers to food-producing societies of the Neolithic, but the major Natufian hamlets are currently poorly dated. Moreover, none of these complex, continuously occupied base camps have delivered an adequate number of dates to enable an in-depth delineation of intra-Natufian developments. This paper presents the first results of our dating program at el-Wad terrace, Mount Carmel (Israel), one of the major Natufian hamlets of the "core area" of this culture. Thirteen accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon age determinations were obtained from 46 bone (both ungulate and human) and charcoal samples, originating in Early Natufian living surfaces, dwellings, and burials. The obtained dates are largely in agreement with the cultural affiliation of the samples (13-15 kyr cal BP). Two series of dates from different locations show good agreement with the stratigraphy. The ages of the burials clearly point to their being younger than the living surfaces seemingly associated with them. Presently, no burials may be linked with the major architectural phase of Early Natufian el-Wad. Our ongoing dating program and the processing of additional samples from refined contexts will help shed important light on the initial phases of the Natufian culture, habitation duration, intensity, and continuity, as well as the relationships between site features and stratigraphy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)