The Epipalaeolithic Natufian Culture (latest Pleistocene Levant, ca. 15,000–11,500 cal bp) represents relatively sedentary and complex foraging societies, but the plant communities near their most intensively occupied hamlets (in the Mediterranean region of the southern Levant) are not well known. Here we present the charcoal and seed assemblages, and direct radiocarbon dating of select specimens, from el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel, a thick and multi-layered Early to Late Natufian sequence. Wood remains indicate an East Mediterranean oak forest/maquis, with varying ratios of evergreen and deciduous oak types as primary components of the local environment, as well as almond and buckthorn. The highest density of remains is in the architectural phase of the Early Natufian, when the site was very intensively inhabited (15,000–13,800 cal bp). In this phase, wood and seed remains are distributed all over the residential area, conforming to patterns of other finds that show primary discard and no rigid partitioning of space. Comparison of the seed assemblages to Kebara Cave, a Middle Palaeolithic site in the same geographic setting, points to an elevated use of cereals in the Natufian. Our data provide insights into several chronological, spatial and behavioural patterns, which emerge along the Natufian sequence at the site.
- Mount Carmel
- Radiocarbon dating
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science