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The range of the Natufiens.
The old Orient
The city gate of Nimrud
Timeline based on calibrated C 14 data
Epipalaeolithic 12000-9500 BC Chr.
Pre-ceramic Neolithic 9500-6400 BC Chr.
PPNA 9500-8800 BC Chr.
PPNB 8800-7000 BC Chr.
PPNC 7000-6400 BC Chr.
Ceramic Neolithic 6400-5800 BC Chr.
Umm Dabaghiyah culture 6000-5800 BC Chr.
Hassuna culture 5800-5260 BC Chr.
Samarra culture 5500-5000 BC Chr.
Transition to the Chalcolithic 5800-4500 BC Chr.
Halaf culture 5500-5000 BC Chr.
Chalcolithic 4500-3600 BC Chr.
Obed time 5000-4000 BC Chr.
Uruk time 4000-3100 / 3000 BC Chr.
Early Bronze Age 3000-2000 BC Chr.
Jemdet Nasr time 3000-2800 BC Chr.
Early dynasty 2900 / 2800-2340 BC Chr.
Battery life 2340-2200 BC Chr.
New Sumerian / Ur-III period 2340-2000 BC Chr.
Middle Bronze Age 2000-1550 BC Chr.
Isin Larsa Period / Ancient Assyrian Period 2000–1800 BC Chr.
Old Babylonian time 1800–1595 BC Chr.
Late Bronze Age 1550-1150 BC Chr.
Checkout time 1580-1200 BC Chr.
Central Assyrian Period 1400-1000 BC Chr.
Iron age 1150-600 BC Chr.
Isin II time 1160-1026 BC Chr.
Neo-Assyrian time 1000-600 BC Chr.
Neo-Babylonian Period 1025-627 BC Chr.
Late Babylonian Period 626-539 BC Chr.
Achaemenid period 539-330 BC Chr.
Years according to the middle chronology (rounded)

The Natufien , also outdated Natufium , was a culture of the Epipalaeolithic (or Proto-Neolithic ) in the Levant . The Natufien was named after sites in the Wadi an-Natuf in the West Bank in Palestine , which were discovered in 1928 by Dorothy Garrod . The Shuqba Cave , which was discovered in 1925, played a major role . Garrod first suggested the cultural term natufien in 1929.


step Date BP climate
Bölling-Allerød 13,000 - 11,000 warm and humid
Younger dryas 11,000-10,200 dry and cold
early holocene 10,200 - 06,000 warm and humid

(after Bar-Yosef 1996).


The Natufien is between 12000 and 9500 or 9000 BC. Dated. It followed the epipaläolithische culture of Kebaran (14,500 to 13,000) and has been approved by Qermezian ( Sinjar ), the Khiamien (Jordan Valley) and the PPNA replaced.

step Date BP BC cal
Early Epipalaeolithic 13,000-12,300 11050-10350
Early Natufien 12,300 - 11,000 10350-9050
late Natufien 11,000-10,200 9050-8250
PPNA 10,200 - 09,200 8250-7250
PPNB 09,200 - 08,000 7250-6050


It can be found in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. In the southern Levant, the core area is in the Carmel Mountains , Galilee and the Jordan Valley .

Way of settlement

In the course of the Protoneolithic there was a concentration of settlements on the central Euphrates, in the Jordan Depression and on the heights of the then still forested Negev. Since the excavation of Eynan by Jean Perrot (Perrot 1966), the population of the Natufien has been seen as sedentary hunters and gatherers. Ofer Bar-Yosef (1970) postulates a division of the settlements into base camps ( Ain Mallaha , Jericho , Hayonim Cave and Wadi Hammeh 27 ) and peripheral, more short-term used settlement areas. Other researchers assume that the base camps were only used in winter and that longer or shorter hunting trips took place in summer (Hardy-Smith / Edwards 2004, 258). In the Carmel Mountains, winter camps could be identified on the basis of the animal bones (Davis 1983), but the associated summer camps are still missing.

The houses consisted of semicircular stone structures with structures made of rammed earth . In Ain Mallaha, in the oldest phase of settlement, there were sunken, semicircular houses made of limestone dry stone walls, rarely walls that were built with the help of a reddish limestone mortar. The floors are flat or slightly concave (house 131) and consist of compacted soil. The houses have central hearths. The roofs were supported by posts.

Settlements were under demolitions and in the open. In Bab edh-Dhra ( Jordan ) on the Lisan Peninsula on the eastern edge of the Dead Sea , a building that could have been a kiln was uncovered .


The collection of wild grain can be seen as a preliminary stage to domestication (cf. Neolithic Revolution ) and leads to the cultivation of grain. A team of researchers led by the biologist Gordon Hillman studied food residues from Abu Hureyra for 27 years and found in 2001 that there was already 11,000 BC. Grain was planted but not yet domesticated. The wild grain (barley) was harvested with Silex sickles.

With an age of 14,400 years, the oldest bread leftovers to date were found in the Natufien settlement Shubayqa 1 in northeast Jordan. This proved that the bread was developed before grain cultivation and proven agriculture . Remains of fermented grain from the 13th millennium BP were also found in the Rakefet Cave and represent the oldest known evidence of the production of beer .

In both Ain Mallaha and Wadi Hammeh 27, the gazelle predominated among the animal bones. In Wadi Hammeh 27 , however, the stork ( Ciconia ciconia ) and ducks ( Anas sp. ) Were also hunted. From chamber III of El Wad lie the bones of wild cattle ( Bos primigenius ), wild goat ( Capra aegagrus ), red deer ( Cervus elaphus ), fallow deer ( Dama mesopotamica ), roe deer ( Capreolus capreolus ), Edmigazelle ( Gazella gazella ), wild boar ( Sus scrofa ), donkey ( Equus hemionus ) and wild horse ( Equus caballus ). Compared to the previous periods, more and more young animals were killed in the gazelles. Carnivores such as fox ( Vulpes vulpes ), reed cat ( Felis chaus ), badger ( Meles meles ), stone marten ( Martes foina ) and tiger tiger ( Vormela peregusna ) were hunted, certainly not because of the meat.

Compared to the previous epoch, the proportion of small animals such as turtles, rabbits and various species of birds, especially partridges , increased significantly and was over 50 percent at some sites. Falcons were mainly captured for their feathers.

Material culture

Bedrock mortar for crushing the malt


Limestone was hollowed out, polished and used as vessels.

Bone devices

Devices made from the bones of beef, sheep and goat were found in the El Wad Cave in the Carmel Mountains .

Stone tools

Silex was made into hoes and sickles, among other things. Sickles were already around 10,000 BC. In use in Eynan / Ain Mallaha.


Mortars and grinding stones are in use. The latter testify to the processing of (wild) grain.

Figurative representations

The oldest limestone sculpture representing coitus was found in Ain-Sakhri near Jerusalem . The figure is called the lovers of Ain Sakhri and is in the British Museum .


Tomb of El Wad

There are six graves from the Hayonim terrace, which contained single and multiple burials. One grave contained the bones of a human and a dog, as well as turtle shells and the horned cones of gazelles.


Early Natufien

Middle and Late Natufien


  • Ofer Bar-Yosef : The Natufian Culture in the Levant. Threshold to the Origins of Agriculture. (PDF file; 574 kB) in: Evolutionary Anthropology. New York 6/1999, ISSN  1060-1538 , 159-177.
  • Marion Benz: The Neolithization in the Middle East. Theories, archaeological data and an ethnological model . Studies in Early Near Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 7th 2nd edition. ex oriente, Berlin 2008, ISBN 3-9804241-6-2 .
  • Tania Hardy-Smith, Phillip C. Edwards: The garbage crisis in prehistory: artefact discard patterns at the Early Natufian site of Wadi Hammeh 27 and the origins of household refuse disposal strategies. in: Journal of Anthropological Archeology. New York 23.2004, ISSN  0278-4165 , 253-289.
  • Gordon Hillman , Robert Hedges, Andrew Moore, Sue Colledge, Paul Pettitt : New evidence for Late Glacial cereal cultivation at Abu Hureyra on the Euphrates. in: The Holocene. London 11.2001, ISSN  0959-6836 , 383-393. ( Abstract )
  • Natalie D. Munro: Zooarchaeological Measures of Hunting Pressure and Occupation Intensity in the Natufian. Implications for Agricultural Origins. in: Current Anthropology Supplement. Chicago 45.2004, p. 5.
  • Jean Perrot: Le gisement natoufien de Mallaha (Eynan), Israel. in: L'Anthropologie. Paris 70.1966, ISSN  0003-5521 , 437-483.
  • Steven Mithen : After the Ice. A Global Human History, 20,000-5000 BC. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 2003, ISBN 0-297-64318-5 , pp. 29-55.

Web links

Commons : Natufien  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. in the Levant
  2. a b c d in southern Mesopotamia
  3. a b c in northern Mesopotamia
  4. ^ Dorothy Garrod: Excavation of a Palaeolithic cave in western Judaea, Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund 60 , 1928, pp. 182-185.
  5. Alexis Mallon: Quelques stations prehistoriques de Palestine. Melanges de l'Universite de Saint-Joseph 19, 1925, pp. 191-192.
  6. Dorothy Garrod: Excavations in the Mugharet el-Wad, near Athlit, April-June 1929. Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund 61, pp. 220-22.
  7. ^ Ofer Bar-Yosef: The Natufian culture in the Levant, threshold to the origins of agriculture ; Evolutionary Anthropology 6, 1998, pp. 159-177.
  8. ^ Neil Roberts, Herbert Edgar Wright: Vegetational Lake-level and climatic history of Near East and Southwest Asia In: Herbert Edgar Wright et al. (Ed.): Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum . University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1993, pp. 194-219.
  9. ^ GC Hillman: "New evidence from the site of Abu Hureyra suggests that systematic cultivation of cereals in fact started well before the end of the Pleistocene - by at least 13000 years ago, and that rye was among the first crops".
  10. Discovered the oldest bread in the world. In: scinexx . July 17, 2018, accessed July 17, 2018 .
  12. ^ Eitan Tchernova, François F. Valla: Two New Dogs, and Other Natufian Dogs, from the Southern Levant. Journal of Archaeological Science 24/1, 1997, pp. 65-95 doi: 10.1006 / jasc.1995.0096