Publications by authors named "Natalie D Munro"

10 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

The Emergence of Animal Management in the Southern Levant.

Sci Rep 2018 06 18;8(1):9279. Epub 2018 Jun 18.

Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, 31905, Haifa, Israel.

Our compilation of zooarchaeological data from a series of important archaeological sites spanning the Epipaleolithic through Pre-Pottery Neolithic B periods in the Mediterranean Hills of the southern Levant contributes to major debates about the beginnings of ungulate management in Southwest Asia. The data support an onset of ungulate management practices by the Early PPNB (10,500-10,000 cal. BP), more than 500 years earlier than previously thought for this region. There is a clear developmental connection between reduced hunting intensity and the uptake of ungulate management, confirming that this process began in response to local, density-dependent demographic factors. The early process of goat domestication in the southern Levant appears to have been overwhelmingly local. This may have been true for cattle and pigs as well. Nevertheless, the loose synchrony of animal management trends across Southwest Asia was undoubtedly enabled by large-scale social networks that transmitted knowledge. The results add to growing evidence that animal management processes followed multiple regional evolutionary pathways within the Fertile Crescent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27647-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6006362PMC
June 2018

Provisioning the Ritual Neolithic Site of Kfar HaHoresh, Israel at the Dawn of Animal Management.

PLoS One 2016 30;11(11):e0166573. Epub 2016 Nov 30.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States of America.

It is widely agreed that a pivotal shift from wild animal hunting to herd animal management, at least of goats, began in the southern Levant by the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period (10,000-9,500 cal. BP) when evidence of ritual activities flourished in the region. As our knowledge of this critical change grows, sites that represent different functions and multiple time periods are needed to refine the timing, pace and character of changing human-animal relationships within the geographically variable southern Levant. In particular, we investigate how a ritual site was provisioned with animals at the time when herd management first began in the region. We utilize fauna from the 2010-2012 excavations at the mortuary site of Kfar HaHoresh-the longest continuous Pre-Pottery Neolithic B faunal sequence in the south Levantine Mediterranean Hills (Early-Late periods, 10,600-8,700 cal. BP). We investigate the trade-off between wild and domestic progenitor taxa and classic demographic indicators of management to detect changes in hunted animal selection and control over herd animal movement and reproduction. We find that ungulate selection at Kfar HaHoresh differs from neighboring sites, although changes in dietary breadth, herd demographics and body-size data fit the regional pattern of emerging management. Notably, wild ungulates including aurochs and gazelle are preferentially selected to provision Kfar HaHoresh in the PPNB, despite evidence that goat management was underway in the Mediterranean Hills. The preference for wild animals at this important site likely reflects their symbolic significance in ritual and mortuary practice.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0166573PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5130218PMC
July 2017

Human Hunting and Nascent Animal Management at Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic Yiftah'el, Israel.

PLoS One 2016 6;11(7):e0156964. Epub 2016 Jul 6.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States of America.

The current view for the southern Levant is that wild game hunting was replaced by herd management over the course of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, but there is significant debate over the timing, scale and origin of this transition. To date, most relevant studies focus either on wild game exploitation in the periods prior to domestication or on classic markers of domestication of domestic progenitor species over the course of the PPNB. We studied the faunal remains from the 2007-2008 excavations of the Middle PPNB (MPPNB) site of Yiftah'el, Northern Israel. Our analysis included a close examination of the timing and impact of the trade-off between wild game and domestic progenitor taxa that reflects the very beginning of this critical transition in the Mediterranean zone of the southern Levant. Our results reveal a direct trade-off between the intensive hunting of wild ungulates that had been staples for millennia, and domestic progenitor taxa. We suggest that the changes in wild animal use are linked to a region-wide shift in the relationship between humans and domestic progenitor species including goat, pig and cattle.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0156964PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934702PMC
August 2017

Hunted gazelles evidence cooling, but not drying, during the Younger Dryas in the southern Levant.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 Apr 28;113(15):3997-4002. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269;

The climatic downturn known globally as the Younger Dryas (YD; ∼12,900-11,500 BP) has frequently been cited as a prime mover of agricultural origins and has thus inspired enthusiastic debate over its local impact. This study presents seasonal climatic data from the southern Levant obtained from the sequential sampling of gazelle tooth carbonates from the Early and Late Natufian archaeological sites of Hayonim and Hilazon Tachtit Caves (western Galilee, Israel). Our results challenge the entrenched model that assumes that warm temperatures and high precipitation are synonymous with climatic amelioration and cold and wet conditions are combined in climatic downturns. Enamel carbon isotope values from teeth of human-hunted gazelle dating before and during the YD provide a proxy measure for water availability during plant growth. They reveal that although the YD was cooler, it was not drier than the preceding Bølling-Allerød. In addition, the magnitude of the seasonal curve constructed from oxygen isotopes is significantly dampened during the YD, indicating that cooling was most pronounced in the growing season. Cool temperatures likely affected the productivity of staple wild cereal resources. We hypothesize that human groups responded by shifting settlement strategies-increasing population mobility and perhaps moving to the warmer Jordan Valley where wild cereals were more productive and stable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1519862113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4839398PMC
April 2016

Nahal Ein Gev II, a Late Natufian Community at the Sea of Galilee.

PLoS One 2016 27;11(1):e0146647. Epub 2016 Jan 27.

Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, United States of America.

The Natufian culture is of great importance as a starting point to investigate the dynamics of the transition to agriculture. Given its chronological position at the threshold of the Neolithic (ca. 12,000 years ago) and its geographic setting in the productive Jordan Valley, the site of Nahal Ein Gev II (NEG II) reveals aspects of the Late Natufian adaptations and its implications for the transition to agriculture. The size of the site, the thick archaeological deposits, invested architecture and multiple occupation sub-phases reveal a large, sedentary community at least on par with Early Natufian camps in the Mediterranean zone. Although the NEG II lithic tool kit completely lacks attributes typical of succeeding Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) assemblages, the artistic style is more closely related to the early PPNA world, despite clear roots in Early Natufian tradition. The site does not conform to current perceptions of the Late Natufians as a largely mobile population coping with reduced resource productivity caused by the Younger Dryas. Instead, the faunal and architectural data suggest that the sedentary populations of the Early Natufian did not revert back to a nomadic way of life in the Late Natufian in the Jordan Valley. NEG II encapsulates cultural characteristics typical of both Natufian and PPNA traditions and thus bridges the crossroads between Late Paleolithic foragers and Neolithic farmers.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0146647PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4729465PMC
July 2016

A forager-herder trade-off, from broad-spectrum hunting to sheep management at Aşıklı Höyük, Turkey.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014 Jun 28;111(23):8404-9. Epub 2014 Apr 28.

Department of Prehistory, Istanbul University, Laleli 34134, Istanbul, Turkey;

Aşıklı Höyük is the earliest known preceramic Neolithic mound site in Central Anatolia. The oldest Levels, 4 and 5, spanning 8,200 to approximately 9,000 cal B.C., associate with round-house architecture and arguably represent the birth of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in the region. Results from upper Level 4, reported here, indicate a broad meat diet that consisted of diverse wild ungulate and small animal species. The meat diet shifted gradually over just a few centuries to an exceptional emphasis on caprines (mainly sheep). Age-sex distributions of the caprines in upper Level 4 indicate selective manipulation by humans by or before 8,200 cal B.C. Primary dung accumulations between the structures demonstrate that ruminants were held captive inside the settlement at this time. Taken together, the zooarchaeological and geoarchaeological evidence demonstrate an emergent process of caprine management that was highly experimental in nature and oriented to quick returns. Stabling was one of the early mechanisms of caprine population isolation, a precondition to domestication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1322723111DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4060719PMC
June 2014

On the evolution of diet and landscape during the Upper Paleolithic through Mesolithic at Franchthi Cave (Peloponnese, Greece).

J Hum Evol 2011 May 2;60(5):618-36. Epub 2011 Mar 2.

School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0030, USA.

Franchthi Cave in southern Greece preserves one of the most remarkable records of socioeconomic change of the Late Pleistocene through early Holocene. Located on the southern end of the Argolid Peninsula, the area around the site was greatly affected by climate variation and marine transgression. This study examines the complex interplay of site formation processes (material deposition rates), climate-driven landscape change, and human hunting systems during the Upper Paleolithic through Mesolithic at Franchthi Cave based on the H1B faunal series. Building on earlier work, we establish the full spectrum of the meat diet using taphonomic evidence, and we analyze these data for trends in socioeconomic reorganization. Foraging patterns during the Aurignacian and "Gravettoid" occupations at Franchthi were terrestrial and already rather diversified in comparison to Middle Paleolithic diets in southern Greece. Hunting shifted abruptly to a mixed marine-terrestrial pattern during the Final Paleolithic, and fishing activities intensified though the Mesolithic. The zooarchaeological data indicate two consecutive trends of increasing dietary breadth, the first within an exclusively terrestrial context, and the second as marine habitats came into use through the end of the Mesolithic. The intensity of the human occupations at this site increased in tandem with intensified use of animal and plants. Comparison to the inland site of Klissoura Cave 1 indicates that the trend toward broader diets was regional as well as local.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.12.005DOI Listing
May 2011

Early evidence (ca. 12,000 B.P.) for feasting at a burial cave in Israel.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Aug 30;107(35):15362-6. Epub 2010 Aug 30.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.

Feasting is one of humanity's most universal and unique social behaviors. Although evidence for feasting is common in the early agricultural societies of the Neolithic, evidence in pre-Neolithic contexts is more elusive. We found clear evidence for feasting on wild cattle and tortoises at Hilazon Tachtit cave, a Late Epipaleolithic (12,000 calibrated years B.P.) burial site in Israel. This includes unusually high densities of butchered tortoise and wild cattle remains in two structures, the unique location of the feasting activity in a burial cave, and the manufacture of two structures for burial and related feasting activities. The results indicate that community members coalesced at Hilazon to engage in special rituals to commemorate the burial of the dead and that feasts were central elements in these important events. Feasts likely served important roles in the negotiation and solidification of social relationships, the integration of communities, and the mitigation of scalar stress. These and other social changes in the Natufian period mark significant changes in human social complexity that continued into the Neolithic period. Together, social and economic change signal the very beginning of the agricultural transition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1001809107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2932561PMC
August 2010

Increasing the resolution of the Broad Spectrum Revolution in the Southern Levantine Epipaleolithic (19-12 ka).

J Hum Evol 2009 Mar 19;56(3):294-306. Epub 2009 Jan 19.

Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA 30054, USA.

We analyze terminal Pleistocene archaeofaunal diversity trends in the Southern Levant by examining eight Epipaleolithic (ca. 19-12ka) assemblages from the Western Galilee/Mt. Carmel, Israel subregion. We test predictions from a Broad Spectrum Revolution model of the population dynamics of human foragers and their prey. The study emphasizes control over geographic variability and archaeological recovery and recording methods, as we analyze a time series that samples the Epipaleolithic more fully than have previous studies. This provides a new opportunity to examine human population and economic change in the long-term transition to sedentism and agriculture. We use the Mantel test to evaluate the significance of temporal trends in body-size-based big game diversity, as well as in diversity of small game prey types. Results demonstrate a highly significant decline through time in the relative abundance of medium and large big game, measured relative to small big game. This suggests that the apparent "gazelle specialization" by Late Epipaleolithic (Natufian) hunters reflects longer-term anthropogenic overexploitation of the largest prey types in the spectrum. While large and medium big game abundance declined, our results show small game increased in economic importance over time. Considered with associated climate change data, the results provide substantial support for the hypothesis that local human populations expanded rapidly in size after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). We suggest that following the post-LGM population pulse, human foragers adopted a shifting series of intensification strategies mediated by changes in residential mobility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.10.004DOI Listing
March 2009

A 12,000-year-old Shaman burial from the southern Levant (Israel).

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008 Nov 3;105(46):17665-9. Epub 2008 Nov 3.

Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel.

The Natufians of the southern Levant (15,000-11,500 cal BP) underwent pronounced socioeconomic changes associated with the onset of sedentism and the shift from a foraging to farming lifestyle. Excavations at the 12,000-year-old Natufian cave site, Hilazon Tachtit (Israel), have revealed a grave that provides a rare opportunity to investigate the ideological shifts that must have accompanied these socioeconomic changes. The grave was constructed and specifically arranged for a petite, elderly, and disabled woman, who was accompanied by exceptional grave offerings. The grave goods comprised 50 complete tortoise shells and select body-parts of a wild boar, an eagle, a cow, a leopard, and two martens, as well as a complete human foot. The interment rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest that this is the burial of a shaman, one of the earliest known from the archaeological record. Several attributes of this burial later become central in the spiritual arena of human cultures worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0806030105DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2584673PMC
November 2008