The significance of the morphometric and contextual variation in stone hewn mortars during the Natufian-PPNA transition in the southern Levant

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Abstract

Bedrock features such as hewn mortars and cup-marks are known around the world. In the Levant they first appear in Natufian sites in large numbers, a variety of types and contexts, including habitation sites and burial caves. The Natufian–Pre-Pottery Neolithic A transition witnessed notable changes in these features, including a reduction in their morphometric variation, reflecting a selection of a single type, the cup-mark, which correlates with one of the smallest types of the Natufian bedrock feature repertoire. Moreover, during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period we see a duel system in which large bedrock assemblages are found near or at the sites, accompanied by a new trend, the appearance of indoor pounding facilities: slabs, boulder and various grinding tools bearing one or more cup-marks. In this paper we discuss these important changes that characterize the Natufian to Pre-Pottery Neolithic A transition in the southern Levant, and suggest that they reflect the changes in food processing noted during this time span, as well as changes in the context where specific substances were processed. The overall morphometric reduction is thus used here as a proxy for discussing differences between the Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A organization of domestic food production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary International
Volume439
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA

Keywords

  • Bedrock features
  • Ground stone tools
  • Natufian
  • PPNA
  • Southern Levant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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