The Natufian Culture
The Natufian Culture existed during the final stage of the Epipaleolithic period in Israel. The Natufian was defined by the British Archaeologist Dorothy Garrod. The sites of the Natufian culture are known primary from the Mediterranean region of the Levant and represent a transition stage between the life ways of the final hunter gatherers and the early agriculture societies.
The Natufian is found at the Hula Valley primary at the large site of Eynan (Malaha). The site was discovered in 1951 and was excavated by the Franch Archaeologist Jan Perot and later by Francois Valla. Their excavations exposed a large village that was occupied during some 3000 years, between 14,500 to 11,500 years before present.
A series of large stone houses was excavated at Eynan, built into the slopes of the Naphtali Mountains in a circular plan. The Natufian circular houses are the earliest stone houses in the world. Some of them are larger than 10 meters in diameter.
The inhabitants of the Natufian Eynan enjoyed a verity of rich resources of their flourish environment. The results of the excavation indicate that they did not practice agriculture way of life but were living at their houses year round and were not nomads. Sedentism comes before agriculture.
The Natufians created and used new and sophisticated tool industry that reflects their new ways of life. The typical tool of the Natufian culture is the tiny lunate that is found in large numbers in their sites. The Natufian sites are rich in ornaments, jewelry and art objects. Some of the most impressive art objects in Israel were found in Eynan and are presented in the museum.
Excavations in Natufian sites in Israel have exposed, to date, over than 500 buried individuals. The Natufian chose, in many cases, to bury their dead under the floors of their houses. The burial costumes were not rigid. All of the burials found are found below the ground but some were put in a pit dug in the ground while others were placed in a stone slabs built grave. Some of the burials are of a single individual and some are of two, three and even more. The body positions are many and varied as can be seen in the examples exhibit in the Museum. In some of the graves, but not in all, burial offering were placed that included jewelry, gazelle horns, tools and more.
Man woman and sometimes children were all laid In Natufian burials. The ones exhibit at the museum were all excavated in Eynan. These are only 4 examples out of many exposed. The body positions are different. Two of the skeletons are decorated with beds produce of shells of Dentalium. These shells are collected at the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the Natufian probably saw special meaning in them.
In Burial X is a skeleton of woman, not young in age, with her hand placed over the bones of a very young dog. This is one of the earliest evidences for the domestication of the dog from the wolf, the first animal to be domesticated by humans.