Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)
Chapter 2: MESOLITHIC 2 ECONOMY AND SOCIETY (Pages 63-83)
Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary
Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:
Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:
Much new evidence for the economy of Mesolithic 2 sites is now available which when added to what was known from earlier excavations allows us to suggest in outline how the inhabitants of these sites lived. Their exploitation of animals is the aspect which is best documented from the numerous collections of animal bones that have been studied. The Natufians in much of Palestine killed many more gazelle for food than any other animal. The percentage of gazelle bones to all others at Nahal Oren was as high as 83.3% (See Page 90 in *1) and of about the same order at Mugharet Wad (See Page 141 and Figure 1 in *2 Below). Several other species found on these sites would have been eaten among them fallow deer, goat, cattle and pig. The proportion of gazelle bones was also high at Kebara, the third large Natufian site on the seaward side of Mount Carmel and at Shukbah (See Page 277 in *3 and Page 19 in *4 Below). The most recent study of the Kebaran fauna does suggest however that gazelle formed a smaller proportion of the diet than in Mesolithic 1 and that cattle, pig and hartebeest were now killed in some numbers (See Figure 3 in *5). Moister climatic conditions and the spread of marshes near the coast may have led to an increase in the herds of these animals in the vicinity of Kebara.
Gazelle bones were also plentiful at Hayonim (See Page 129 in *6 Below) and at Ain Mallaha where they made up 44.6% of all the animal bones found. This was significantly less than on the Carmel sites and is partly explained by the different environments of these two settlements. The upper Jordan Valley would have been well-wooded and marshy in Natufian times, rather different from the drier hilly hinterland of Mount Carmel with a flat coastal strip in front and this is reflected in the full faunal assemblage from Ain Mallaha. Deer were much more plentiful here, the three main species comprising 33.4% of the animal bones. Pigs, which would have been abundant around Lake Huleh, were quite common (14.2%) while cattle and caprines were present in small quantities only.
Gazelle seems to have been an important source of meat on the Negev sites of Rosh Zin and Rosh Horesha (See Page 128 and 130 in *7 Below). Here again the faunal remains from these sites reflect their environments for Capra ibex also seems to have been plentiful as one would expect in this drier broken country. Deer were found at Rosh Zin which may have lived in the Nahal Zin below the site and equid at Rosh Horesha, possibly reflecting its more open position.
The faunal evidence from the Judean desert sites emphasises that hunting patterns were significantly influenced by the environments. Neither at Erq Ahmar nor at the other Natufian sites does it appear that gazelle were particularly common, presumably because they were not to be found in large numbers in those broken, wooded uplands. A number of other species better adapted to such conditions were fcund at Erq Ahmar including ibex, roe deer, cattle and an equid.
Gazelle were also uncommon in the Mesolithic 2 levels at Beidha where the fauna was dominated by goats (Capra hircus aegagrus and Capra ibex nubiana) which comprised 76.7% of the bones found. These species would have been particularly plentiful in the cliffs and hills around the site. As on other sites a number of other species such as aurochs and an equid were hunted from time to time.
The archaeological evidence suggests that the Natufian pattern of animal exploitation in Palestine was strongly influenced by what species were readily available near the sites. We see that at most sites one species was much preferred to all the others and this was the animal that was available in large numbers near the site. In several instances this was the gazelle but at Beidha it was the wild goat; a number of species were readily available at Ain Mallaha so, although more gazelle were taken here than other species, the proportion was not so marked.
Several zoologists have examined the better-documented faunal collections to determine at what age these species were killed in order to throw more light on methods of exploitation. From this it has emerged that 54.7% of the gazelle at Nahal Oren (See Table 5 in *1 Below) and 75% of the goats at Beldha (See Page 67 in *8 Below) were immature. Although the Beidha percentage was determined on a rather small sample it is especially interesting when compared with the figures from Wadi Madamagh where only 23.1% of the goats were immature. These results would seem to indicate that at some sites care was exercised to kill off a high proportion of young animals thus following a pattern of exploitation similar to that of domesticated herds (See Page 222 in *9). This pattern was not a universal one for at Ain Mallaha only a few immature gazelle were killed.
This evidence suggests that the people of Mesolithic 2, like their ancestors in Mesolithic 1, practised selective hunting. There was a slightly greater emphasis on a particular species, usually gazelle, than in Mesolithic 1 which indicates that by now this form of exploitation was more concentrated or intensified. The high proportion of juveniles killed at a few sites, while it may suggest a mode of exploitation akin to domesticated herds, cannot really be regarded as the same. It was probably a particular form of selective hunting rather than the herding hinted at by Legge (See Page 123 in *10). Moreover although the evidence is still very uneven, it does not seem to have been a very common practice.
While intensive, selective hunting seems to have been practised on many Mesolithic 2 sites, this was not universally so, even in Palestine, as the evidence from Ain Mallaha demonstrates. No statistical information is available for the fauna of the Judean desert sites but Vaufrey's comments do not indicate that the Natufian inhabitants there exhibited any marked preference for a particular species. Even at Nahal Oren although gazelle seem to have formed the bulk of the meat diet the weight of beef consumed was considerably more than the percentage of cattle bones present (9.2%) [See Table 4 in *1 Below] would imply and this was also the case at Kebara (See Page 32 in *5). It is important to remember that the people of Mesolithic 2 were prepared to kill and eat a wide range of other game both large and small which would have significantly supplemented their diet. Hares for instance seem to have been eaten in quantity at Hayonim (See Page 126 in *6) and their bones were found at Mugharet Wad (See Page 152 in *2), Beidha (See Page 66 in *8) and other Mesolithic 2 sites. Both terrestrial and marine molluscs were eaten at Hayonim (See Page 135 and 137 in *6) and Mugharet Wad (See Page 224 in *2 Below); shellfish, turtles and fish from Lake Huleh at Ain Mallaha. Fish were also consumed at Hayonim (See Page 133 in *6) and on the evidence of the fish-hooks probably at Kebara (See Page 272 in *11 Below). This readiness to eat a wide range of species is typical not only of the people of Mesolithic 2 but of Mesolithic 1 and earlier hunter-gatherers. Although there were differences in emphasis between the hunting practices of the Mesolithic 2 population and their predecessors, these were not as great as is sometimes supposed. For example it has been assumed that the people of Mesolithic 2 were the first to eat fish and other aquatic foods and that these formed a major part of their diet (See Page 334 in *12). In fact the evidence, slight though it is, would suggest that these foods were used at some sites only as a supplement to the diet and that this had been a feature of the economy of Levantine sites at least since the Aurignacian.
There is no evidence available yet for exploitation of animals from Mesolithic 2 sites in Lebanon and only preliminary information from the Euphrates valley settlements. We know that gazelle, onager, cattle, sheep/goat, hares, fish and shellfish were exploited at Abu Hureyra and Mureybat and, although detailed figures are not available, that the gazelle and onagers were killed in some quantity. This suggests that selective hunting was also being practised at these two sites and that the species preferred were those herbivores which were especially numerous in the neighbourhood. This mode of hunting would seem to have resembled Natufian practices in Palestine, so far as one can see at the moment.
Both direct and indirect evidence has been found for the consumption of plant foods in Mesolithic 2. The remains of the plants themselves recovered from archaeological deposits provide direct evidence while artifacts, structural features, human remains and the setting of sites are all sources of indirect evidence. Plant remains are much the easiest evidence to interpret but they have been recovered from only one site so far in the Natufian heartland, Nahal Oren; even then no more than 25 seeds were found (Table 6 in *1).
The identified seeds at Nahal Oren were from vetches, grasses and vines, all of which could have been used for food. Conditions for seed survival at Nahal Oren seem to have been unfavourable as so few were recovered. Since cereal grains were found in the Kebaran and Neolithic levels at the site they have been eaten in the Natufian, although none were retrieved from those layers.
Very many more seeds and charcoal have been found in the Mesolithic levels at Abu Hureyra and some plant remains at Mureybat. One can describe the exploitation of plants in the Middle Euphrates in more detail from this evidence but one cannot apply many of the conclusions to Mesolithic 2 sites elsewhere in the Levant. Not all the samples of plant remains from the Mesolithic levels at Abu Hureyra have been examined yet but already the plant economy of the site can be discerned in outline (See Page 70ff in *13 Below). Cereal grains, particularly of wild-type einkorn, were quite common in all the samples studied so far. Grains of both wild-type and domesticated barley and rye were also present, all in well-stratified deposits. Grains of domesticated barley have not been found in such an early context before so we cannot discount the possibility that they may have filtered down through rodent burrows into the Mesolithic levels from the Neolithic settlement above. The rye probably grew with the other cereals.
The presence of all these cereals at Abu Hureyra would suggest that they vere being eaten in some quantity there. This was probably also the case at Mureybat where wild-type einkorn has also been found in the Mesolithic 2 layers [NOTE 3]. Were these cereals growing in the vicinity of these sites during Mesolithic 2 and if so, were they collected from the wild or deliberately planted and harvested? The answers to these questions depend upon the botanical status of these plants and the prevailing climate at the time the sites were occupied.
More grains of wild-type einkorn have been identified than of the other cereals at Abu Hureyra so the origin of these seeds may be considered in some detail. Hillman believes that there were three possible ways in which the einkorn could have been obtained. If the einkorn was growing near the site then it could have been harvested from these wild stands. Wild einkorn cannot grow there today because the area is too arid. The climate would have been both cooler and moister in Mesolithic 2 so conditions would have been more favourable for the wild plant to have grown there then. The second possibility is that the einkorn was gathered from natural stands growing in a more favourable environment among the foothills of the Anti-Taurus as much as 200 kilometres to the north. This suggestion was first made by van Zeist to explain the presence of wild-type einkorn in late 9th and early 8th millennia BC deposits at Mureybat (See Page 172 in *14 Below). The Mesolithic settlement at Abu Hureyra was quite substantial and was occupied for a relatively long period. It would be difficult to understand how its inhabitants could have supported themselves if a significant amount of their food had to be imported since the means for transporting large quantities of grain over such a distance did not then exist. For these reasons this seems to be the least likely explanation. The third possibility is that wild-type einkorn was already being cultivated around Abu Hureyra but had not yet undergone the selection process which led to the development of a morphologically domesticated form. The environment was probably sufficiently favourable for einkorn to have grown wild or to have been cultivated so either would have been possible from what we know about the status of the plant and the contemporary climate. Hillman has now found further evidence which indicates which explanation should be preferred. Among the cereal grains were many other seeds of plants which flourish in disturbed ground. This suggests that the soil in the vicinity of Abu Hureyra was already being broken for cultivation and that therefore the einkorn was alreadly being deliberately planted and harvested as a crop. The evidence is not yet conclusive but we may reasonably hope that this explanation will be corroborated when all the plant remains have been studied.
Other food plants have been identified among the plant remains. The most abundant was a common vetch, probably Vicia sativa, but bitter vetch, Vicia ervilia and wild-type lentils were also present. The common vetch in particular would have been an important constituent of the diet. Fruits and nuts from a number of other species were also collected and eaten, among them caper, hackberry and turpentine. Not only were considerable amounts of cereals and vetches consumed but also a variety of other vegetable foods in season.
Although plant remains are much the most satisfactory evidence fcr the use of vegetable foods they have been found on very few Mesolithic 2 sites so far. Certain categories of indirect evidence, on the other hand, are common to most of these sites. Sickle blades and grinding tools have been found on most Natufian sites in Palestine and on many Mesolithic 2 sites in Lebanon and Syria. These artifacts are frequently thought to have been used for harvesting and preparing plant foods (See Page 190 in *7 Below). While this may have been the case it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated. As I have already explained both classes of tools could have been used for purposes other than food processing. Almost all the grinding tools found at Abu Hureyra were stained with red ochre as if they had been used for grinding the pigment. Many of the grinding tools from Mugharet Wad (See Page 41 in *2), Ain Mallaha (See Page 193 in *15) and other Mesolithic 2 sites were also stained with ochre so these tools are not unequivocal evidence for the use of plant foods in Mesolithic 2. It should be noted however that many more of these tools have been found on Mesolithic 2 than on Mesolithic 1 sites. Whatever tasks they were used for were performed more frequently than before.
The idea has been put forward [NOTE 4] that the people of Mesolithic 2 used acorns for food. Acorns are quite nutritious (See Page 194 in *16 Below) and may be harvested in considerable quantities in the autumn. They have to be processed before they can be eaten since they contain bitter tannin. Once these have been removed the acorns may be baked as cakes or bread or used in other ways. There is evidence that acorns were used by various peoples in the past since their remains have been found on many archaeological sites (See Page 154 ibid). They were also eaten in considerable quantities by California Indians until quite recently. A peasant from a village in the Jebel Barisha in north-west Syria told me in 1977 that acorns were still eaten by the poor there in years when the harvest failed. He himself was fully conversant with methods of preparing acorns for food.
Remains of acorns have not been found on Mesolithic 2 sites but there is some other evidence supporting the idea that they may have been eaten. Oak trees were an important constituent of the Mediterranean forest which was more extensive during Mesolithic 2 than in any later period. Most of the larger Mesolithic 2 sites and many of the others were situated in this zone. Cereal grasses would not have grown so prolifically in the Mediterranean forest as in the more open country of the intermediate forest and steppe so this source of food would not have been particularly abundant. Acorns on other hand would have been available in great quantities and could have a useful supplement or even a staple of the diet. One method of preparing acorns for food involves crushing the kernels to a paste in a mortar. It may be more than a coincidence therefore that large mortars and pestles, often showing considerable signs of wear, which could have been used for crushing acorns have been found on many of the large sites in or on the fringe of the Mediterranean forest zone such as Mugharet Wad, Nahal Oren, Jericho, Ain Mallaha and Jebel Saaideh. They have not been found at Abu Hureyra, Mureybat nor on sites in other steppic areas where oaks could not have grown during Mesolithic 2. If acorns were eaten in some quantity in Mesolithic 2 then it is probable that they continued to be consumed during the Neolithic.
One other modest piece of evidence suggesting the use of plants was found at Ain Mallaha. A number of plaster-lined pits were excavated there and these were interpreted as storage containers for vegetable foods. The pits may well have been used for this purpose although there are other possible interpretations. Storage facilities would be needed by communities using large quantities of plant foods and inhabiting extensive settlements like Ain Mallaha for more than one season of the year. This is the earliest record from a Levantine site of features possibly used for storage. Large pits have been found at Nahal Oren (See Page 11 in *17 Below) but at no other Mesolithic 2 sites. The only other contemporary settlement with large pits was Abu Hureyra but here they almost certainly served a different purpose. If the pits at Ain Mallaha and Nahal Oren were for storing food they were uncommon elsewhere.
Skeletons from Ain Mallaha and Mugharet Wad have furnished rather better evidence for the use of plant foods in Mesolithic 2. A recent study of the teeth of these skeletons has shown that they were very worn like those of burials from later Neolithic sites (See Page 237 in *18 Below). This was almost certainly caused by eating coarsely-ground cereals. Interestingly enough Smith found that the teeth of Natufian skeletons from Kebara were much less worn as though the inhabitants had eaten only relatively soft foods such as meat and unground plants.
If we examine the siting of Mesolithic 2 settlements this gives us some information about the potential suitability of the environment of these sites for hunting, gathering or simple farming. A large number of Mesolithic 2 shelter sites were situated in wadis on the fringes of or actually in the upland zone of the Anti-Lebanon, on the western side of the Mountains of Lebanon, Galilee, Carmel and Judea, in the Judean desert, the Negev and TransJordan. They were surrounded by woodland with abundant vegetable resources and a good water supply near more open country often with good hunting potential. As Henry has noted (See Page 188 in *7 Below) they were also in the presumed habitat of wild cereals. All these sites were well placed for intensive hunting and gathering but their catchments included very little potential arable land (See Page 16 in *19) so it is unlikely that their inhabitants practised any form of agriculture.
Other Mesolithic 2 sites were situated in more open country. The catchment of a number of these, Saaideh, Ain Mallaha, Rakafet (See Page 21 ibid) and Qornet Rharra included much potential arable land so that it would have been possible for the inhabitants to have planted crops nearby. This also applies to the four Euphrates sites, all of which had abundant potential arable land in their catchments, much of it with light soil particularly suitable for simple agricultural techniques. In contrast very few Mesolithic 1 sites had a catchment area with significant quantities of potential arable land. It is also significant that Mesolithic 2 occupation has now been found at the bottom of four tell sites with later substantial Neolithic settlements which depended on agriculture; Jericho, Beidha, Abu Hureyra and Mureybat; yet no Mesolithic 1 occupation has been found at the foot of any agricultural tell settlement.
Because the Levant is a region of great geographical variation a number of Mesolithic 2 sites only a few kilometres apart from each other were situated in contrasting environmental zones. Thus their catchments offered complementary resources with marked seasonal differences. One such area with several Natufian sites close together was Mount Carmel. Vita-Finzi and Higgs have suggested (See Page 22ff ibid) that the inhabitants of sites such as Nahal Oren, Mugharet Wad and Kebara at the foot of the Carmel range may have moved into the uplands behind at certain seasons in order to exploit the resources of the area more fully. Such a pattern of transhumance might have led these groups to spend the early summer in the hills harvesting cereals and hunting or herding animals on the upland pastures. In the dry late summer they and the animals would have descended to the coastal plain to live near permanent sources of water available near the sea and stayed on through the winter while the animals grazed on the lush lowland pastures. Excavation has since confirmed (See Page 225 in *20) that the upland site of Rakafet had a long sequence of Mesolithic occupation and so it could have been a complementary site to Nahal Oren for transhumance in Mesolithic 2 as well as in Mesolithic 1 (See Page 95ff in *1 Below).
The principal advantage of transhumance was that it permitted more people to live off the resources of the region than would otherwise have been possible. Lowland and upland sites would have offered an abundance of plant and animal foods at different seasons. Human groups could move between them at the most favourable time, probably in early summer and autumn. Thus the group could be larger than would be possible if it remained in the vicinity of a single lowland or upland site. This pattern of vertical movement was also advantageous when the presence of other groups in neighbouring territories made it impossible for the inhabitants of a site to split up and spread out across the landscape in the lean season.
Transhumance may well have been practised by Mesolithic 2 groups elsewhere in the Levant where different environments were to be found only a few kilometres apart. One such area might have been the Judean hills with the lowland zones of the coastal plain and the Jordan valley on either side. Another might have been the hills of Galilee with the Plain of Esdraelon below while a third might have been the seaward slope of the Lebanon Mountains where there was a great environmental contrast between the coastal plain and the upland pastures in the mountains behind. Transhumance is less-likely to have been practised east of the Rift Valley and in the semi-arid zone because here there was insufficient contrast for neighbouring zones to have offered complementary resources.
To summarise, the people of Mesolithic 2 practised selective hunting of specific species, at some sites killing a high proportion of immature animals. At each site this hunting pattern was strongly influenced by the local environment. They also took a great variety of other species for food. This pattern had much in common with the Mesolithic 1 economy but was clearly a more intensive and refined version of it.
Plant foods were very important in the diet; the fruits, seeds and other parts of many different plants were eaten but on the Euphrates sites at least cereals seem to have been the main source of food. This may have been so in earlier times but it is only now that we find clear evidence of the importance of cereals in the diet. There seems little doubt that on most sites these plants were gathered from the wild as in the past. A few sites were situated in areas with land suitable for cultivation nearby and it is possible that on these sites cereals and vetches were being cultivated for the first time.
Mesolithic 2 sites may be divided into three groups according to size. The smallest sites were all under 100 square metres in area. This group included several shelter sites of which Yabrud III with a probable maximum area of 50 square metres was typical and a number of open stations. There were some of these on the coastal plain of Palestine such as Kfar Vitkin III, Caesarea sands and Kefar Darom 28 on which a few Mesolithic 2 flints have been found (See Pages 59 and 94 in *20.5 Below) together with earlier material. Others like Nahal Lavan IV (20 square metres) were in the Negev (See Page 478 in *21 Below).
The next group of sites were those of medium size between 100 and 500 square metres. Erq Ahmar (165 square metres), Kebara (300 square metres), Jiita II (about 350 square metres in Mesolithic 2) [NOTE 1] and Mugharet Wad (475 square metres taking terrace and cave occupation together) [See Plate III in *2 Below] were all in this group. Moshabi IV (200 square metres) in the Sinai was also of medium size (See Page 478 in *21 Below). It is probable that Abu Hureyra and Dibsi Faraj East (See *21.5 Below) were about this size. These sites were of the same area or a little larger than Mesolithic 1 composite band sites.
The large sites which could be from 800 up to 2000 square metres in area formed the third group. Shukbah (800 square metre) [See Page 3 in *22 Below] and Rosh Zin (900 square metres) [See Page 129 in *23 Below] were two of the smaller sites in this group; Hayonim where the area of the terrace and shelter was somewhat more than 1000 square metres (See Page 49 in *24 Below) came in the middle. Wadi Fazael IV (lOOO - 1500 square metres) [See Page 423 in *24.5 Below] was about the same size as Hayonim. Ain Mallaha was at least 2000 square metres in area and so one of the largest known Mesolithic 2 sites. There is one other site, Rosh Horesha, which was much larger even than this. The site is now about 7000 square metres; the original area of occupation was somewhat smaller (See Page 129 in *7 Below) but it was still far bigger than any other known Mesolithic 2 site. Rosh Horesha was discovered quite recently and it is not yet clear if in fact it was a single phase site or if several phases of occupation were represented there. The terrace at Khirbet Khiam was about 7500 square metres in area and it is possible that the Mesolithic 2 site covered much of it. If so it would have been another exceptionally large site but this cannot now be determined with certainty.
Most Mesolithic 2 sites fall into the small and medium groups and were thus similar in size to Mesolithic 1 and Aurignacian sites. Only a few activities were carried out in the small sites and their occupation was short-lived. This is reflected in the small number of artifact types found on these transitory stations: flints and a few bone tools at Abu Usba (See Page 21 in *25 Below) and Yabrud III, flints only at Tulmeh and Poleg 18M (See Pages 72ff and 145 in *20.5 Below) and very few flints even at Ala Safat (See Page 101ff in *26 Below). These sites were hunting stations that were used intermittently by families or other small groups.
Greater artifact variability on the medium sized sites indicates that a wider range of activities was practised on them. Erq Ahmar, Kebara and Mugharet Wad all had numerous flint, bone and ground stone artifacts and decorative objects. These sites were probably used by communities of composite band size principally engaged in hunting and fishing as their ancestors had been in Mesolithic 1 and the Aurignacian.
The big Mesolithic 2 sites found in the southern Levant were a significant new group. They appear to have been inhabited by larger communities of people than before. Furthermore the occupation of these sites was more intensive and longer-term: the numerous species of mollusca and human commensals found in the Natufian layers at Hayonim are evidence for this (See Pages 135 and 138 in *6 Below). The archaeolological deposits themselves were usually thicker than in Mesolithic 1, a maximum of 3 metres at Mugharet Wad, 3.5 metres at Shukbah (See Page 9 in *2 and Page 2 in *22 Below) and 3 metres at Ain Mallaha, composed mostly of occupation debris with relatively little erosional deposit. Many pestles, rubbers, mortars and other ground stone tools have been found on large as well as medium Mesolithic 2 sites, far more than in Mesolithic 1. These implements took a long time to make and were too heavy to carry far so they are another indicator of long-term occupation. A recent study of the numerous human remains from Hayonim has shown that they probably all belonged to the same family (See Page 70 in *27 Below). These individuals were buried at intervals throughout the period in which the Natufian deposit accumulated, indicating long-term use of the site by at least one family. These large settlements were unknown before Mesolithic 2. Some change had taken place therefore creating conditions which favoured the establishment of these new sites.
Occupation on most of the small and medium sites was still transient or seasonal but on some of the medium sites it was now repeated quite often and so was more intensive than before. Occupation on the new large sites was both long-term and intensive. This could mean either that these sites were visited regularly and repeatedly or that they were occupied all the year round for a period of years. As the groups that inhabited these sites were more numerous than any known before, they needed a larger guaranteed regular food supply. This and more regular occupation of the sites of medium size explains why the pattern of hunting was more intensive. There would have been more pressure on plant resources too, reflected in more intensive collecting. The need for a larger guaranteed supply of plant as well as animal foods would have provided the incentive to begin cultivation once the demand exceeded the supply available from the wild. Although much of the demand could still be satisfied from wild resources I think it is likely now that some form of cultivation was undertaken for the first time on those sites situated in the most favourable areas. As occupation of many sites was now more long-term storage facilities would have been needed to keep food harvested in one season until it was consumed later on, whether it was gathered from the wild or from cultivated plots; there is some archaeological evidence of possible storage facilities at two sites, as we have already noted, and perishable containers of wood or basketry may have been used on others. One advantage of cereals over other plant foods is that they can quite easily be stored for many months without decaying.
We must now ask what brought about these changes in settlement and economy that we have noted in the archaeological record? One possible explanation is that there was an expansion of population at the end of Mesolithic 1. The idea that population growth might be a cause of economic and social change in primitive societies has been much discussed by anthropologists and others in recent years. An important theoretical contribution was made by an economist named Boserup in 1965. She wished to explain agricultural change in the recent past and concluded that growth or decline in population was an independent variable that determined pressure on the food supply. Under conditions of sustained population growth this pressure would lead to progressively more intensive methods of food production (See Page 15ff in *28). She also believed that population pressure had caused the earliest experiments in agriculture (See Page 53 ibid). Her views are helpful therefore when trying to understand the beginnings of agriculture in the Levant.
A few years later Binford came to the same conclusion independently (See Page 332ff in 12* Below) when he examined world-wide changes in subsistence patterns at the end of the Pleistocene. He argued that man came to depend on seasonal food resources, particularly aquatic foods, at the beginning of the Holocene and that this was accompanied by increased sedentism. As communities became more sedentary so the population grew, pressing upon the available food supply; agriculture was then developed as a response to this pressure. Several of Binford's premises seem improbable when applied to the Levant; man was partly dependent upon seasonal food resources for example as far back as the Aurignacian. He also ate fish and aquatic molluscs during the Pleistocene, not just at its close. On the other hand, as we have already seen, the people of Mesolithic 2 did not depend on these resources as Binford supposed (See Page 334ff ibid). Nevertheless Binford may have been correct when he surmised that the population was larger and more sedentary in Mesolithic 2 than before.
Boserup's thesis formed the theme of a conference held in 1970 which explored its application to archaeology and anthropology. In a paper on Greater Mesopotamia Smith and Young agreed that population increase at the end of the Pleistocene led to the development of agriculture in that region (See Page 32ff in *29 Below). For the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic their conclusion was based largely on theoretical considerations because not enough was known about the Zarzian [Culture] to determine if there was an actual increase in population then or not. They were on surer ground when discussing the period from Hassuna to Uruk (See Page 41ff ibid) for which there was ample evidence from surveys and excavations of population growth in several regions of Mesopotamia.
We are in a stronger position if we attempt to apply this reasoning to Mesolithic 2 because we have much more archaeological evidence for this phase than for contemporary societies elsewhere in the Near East. About 70 Mesolithic 2 sites have been found to date throughout the Levant. This is about the same number as the total of Mesolithic 1 sites discovered. Yet all the known Mesolithic 2 sites, large, medium and small, were occupied in a much shorter period of time, about 1500 years, whereas Mesolithic 1 lasted perhaps as long as 8000 years. If as seems likely the ratio of sites discovered to those which once existed is the same for Mesolithic 2 as for Mesolithic 1 then there was a great increase in the density of settlement in Mesolithic 2.
A greater density of settlement suggests that the population grew quite markedly at the end of Mesolithic 1 and during Mesolithic 2. This population pressure would also account for the growth of the group of larger sites in Mesolithic 2 and the tendency for these to be occupied for longer periods of time. In turn it would also explain the changes in the economy that we have noted.
The evidence for an increase in population in Mesolothic 2 is strongest in Palestine since far more sites have been discovered there than in other regions. Too few sites have been found so far in the rest of the Levant for us to be certain that the same was happening elsewhere. There are hints of a possible similar increase of population in Lebanon. Mesolithic 1 stations there fell within the size range of sites in Palestine but one or two of the Mesolithic 2 sites were significantly bigger. Mesolithic 2 occupation at Jiita II covered a significantly larger area than the Mesolithic 1 levels at the same site and Saaideh also appears to have been an extensive site. Too little is known about the later prehistory of Syria for one to apply these arguments there. All that can be said is that a cluster of Mesolithic 2 sites, two at least of medium size, have been found in the Euphrates Valley but only one Neolithic 1 site in the same area.
Having examined the economy, settlement pattern and the changes brought about by population expansion we must now consider how Mesolithic 2 society was organized. We have already noted that the medium-sized Mesolithic 2 sites were probably occupied by composite bands, that is by groups of about 25 people. Some medium Mesolithic 2 sites were bigger than Mesolithic 1 and Aurignacian camps so the bands which inhabited them may have been larger. This postulated slight increase in band size may itself be a reflection of increased population.
The groups which inhabited the larger Mesolithic 2 sites were several times bigger than these composite bands. Extrapolating from the overall area of the larger sites one might suggest on a conservative estimate that they had from 50 to 150 inhabitants and in some cases more. A few of these groups may have been large composite bands but most were too big for this kind of social arrangement. The most likely explanation for the formation of these larger population groups is that they came about through the coalescing of several composite bands. In circumstances of population expansion these larger groups would have been better able to exploit their environment in the manner suggested by the evidence for the Mesolithic 2 economy. Intensive selective hunting of herds of ruminants would have been more effective when practised by a large group of hunters. This required more people than a single band could supply. The need for extra hands would have been even greater when cereals became an important constituent of the diet. These plants, whether wild or cultivated, were ripe for a short period only and had to be harvested rapidly. Since the available technology was simple many people were needed to gather the cereals if a surplus was to be stored. This need for a large concentration of people would only have arisen for a few weeks of the year at harvest time although a large population might then have been maintained on a site for some time until the surplus had been eaten. It is possible therefore that at other seasons the inhabitants of the larger sites might have broken up into bands or even family groups and moved away to forage on their own; perhaps leaving a few people behind at the main settlement. This pattern, which may have taken the form of transhumance in some areas, would have been particularly advantageous in the dry summer season when plant foods would have been scarce. The bands or families, individual hunting parties and other transient groups would then have inhabited the small Mesolithic 2 stations which were quite numerous in Palestine and elsewhere.
As the population increased so contacts between groups would have been more frequent, particularly in Palestine where some sites were no more than a few kilometres apart. It follows that the territories over which bands had roamed before would have diminished in area. These pressures were bound to influence the changes in social organization that were taking place. Something more complex than a simple band society was emerging in response to these economic and social forces although the new order retained some features of hunter-gatherer organization and economy.
This new pattern may be thought of as a tribal society, a model familiar in Social Anthropology. Tribes are composed of the inhabitants of a group of villages in a defined geographical region who are united by kinship ties (See Page 15 in *30 Below). They are frequently organized in descent groups that take the form of clans or lineages (See Page 49ff ibid). Tribes are a loose social system without any formal political organization. They rely on kinship ties and individual initiative to solve disputes and regulate relations with their neighbours. Tribes, like bands, are egalitarian (See Page 157 in *31 Below) even if relationships between individuals within the tribe are more elaborate than in a band society. Members of a tribe will usually share the same customs, technical traditions and material culture (See Page 15 in *30 Below).
This model accords well with the archaeological evidence for Mesolithic 2. Some settlements now resembled villages and these were near enough to each other for their inhabitants to have been in close contact. Artifact types and burial customs on sites within the Natufian heartland had strikingly similar characteristics, as though this area was inhabited by a single tribe. Dwellings within each Natufian settlement and on contemporary sites elsewhere in the Levant were of uniform size, indicating that there was no great difference in status between the inhabitants. Now that people were more sedentary and united by more complex social relationships than before their material culture became more elaborate, at least on the medium and larger sites. This was true both in Palestine and in Lebanon and Syria where there were marked differences between the still very simple Mesolithic 1 artifact assemblages and those of Mesolithic 2 sites. Mesolithic 2 burial practices were both elaborate and diverse, much more so than anything known before; this too was a reflection of more varied tribal organization and greater sedentism. One suspects that the manufacture of a variety of stone, bone and shell beads, necklaces, head-dresses and other ornaments was also associated with these developments in society. The changes in population, settlement patterns and economy that were taking place gave rise to new needs and pressure on resources. The people of Mesolitlic 2 responded to this by modifying their technology and developing new artifacts, using many more ground stone and bone tools for example and introducing microlithic lunates.
Evidence for social change is derived from the large Mesolithic 2 settlements and some medium sites. This indicates that already a more sedentary society living in nucleated settlements was crystallizing whose livelihood depended upon the control and conscious reproduction of a few plant and animal species. Even so some groups, while perhaps beginning to be incorporated in a tribe, remained essentially at the band level and their economy was not greatly modified.
The new mode of life was developed quickly at the end of Mesolithic 1. This contrasts strongly with Aurignacian and Mesolithic 1 society where most of the fundamental aspects of life remained the same for many millennia and the rate of cultural change was slow. After a period of rapid development the new Mesolithic 2 adaptation gives the impression of having reached an equilibrium which perhaps lasted a millennium or more. This apparent stability may be an illusion resulting from our inability to date individual sites precisely within a very general chronology. It is possible that under pressure of population change there was a continuous adjustment in society and economy against the background of a modified environment .....
NOTE 1: I owe this information to Pere F. Hours S.J.
NOTE 3: M. J. Cauvin has kindly given me much information about his excavations at Mureybat
NOTE 4: This was suggested to me in 1976 independently by Professors F. Hole, A.E. Marks and P.E.L. Smith
(Only References in English are Included)
1. Recent Excavations at Nahal Oren in Israel
*2. The Stone Age of Mount Carmel
*3 A Note on the Fauna of the Athlit Caves
*4 The Fossil Animals at Shukbah
*5 The Mobile Herding Economy of Kebara Cave
*6 Archaeological Finds and the Fossil Faunas of the
*7 The Natufian of Palestine: Its Material Culture and Ecology
*8 The Fauna From Madamagh and Beidha
*9 Archaeological Problems and Methods
*10 Pre-Historic Exploitation of the Gazelle in Palestine
*11 Excavations in the Mugharet Kebara
*12 Post-Pleistocene Adaptations
*13 The Plant Remains From Tell Abu Hureyra
*14 The Oriental Institute Excavations at Mureybat
*15 Mallaha (Eynan)  Paleorient
*16 Palaeoethnobotany  J. Renfrew
*17 Excavations at Nahal Oren 
*18 Diet and Attrition in the Natufians
*19 Pre-Historic Economy in the Mount Carmel
*20 Raqefet Cave  (Pages 225 - 226)
*20.5 The Epi-Palaeolithic Cultures of Palestine
*21 Pre-Historic Sites Near Nahal Lavan
*21.5 A Pre-Historic Site Near Dibsi Faraj in Syria
*22 Excavations at the Cave of Shukbah in Palestine
*23 The Natufian Site of Rosh Zin
*24 Natufian Remains in Hayonim Cave 
*24.5 Late Quaternary Stratigraphy and
*25 The Abu Usba Cave (Mount Carmel)
*26 The Excavations at Ala Safat (TransJordan)
*27 Family Burials at Hayonim
*28 The Conditions of Agricultural Growth (1965)
*29 The Evolution of Early Agriculture and
*30 Tribesmen by M. Sahlins 
*31 Cultural Evolutionism: Theory in Practice