Natufian and early Neolithic subsistence economies

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Throughout the history of mankind, the change of different societies from having an economic system to another has always brought dramatic changes. The necessity of changing the way some group obtains and manages its resources often comes along with some kind of change in the environment where it resides or of its own people and the technologies it possesses. In Archeology, a very important and interesting transition is that of a hunting-gathering subsistence economy to one based on agriculture and domestication. This was the first dramatic change that enabled humanity to evolve to its current state. After intensive research and examination of numerous sites, it is clear that this change did not occur in a sudden way, people did not just decide to domesticate plants and animals instead of gathering and hunting them. This change took a long time, approximately 7,000 years, and it can be divided into several periods, some in which both types of economies took place at the same time. In this paper, I will give a brief overview of the way this change occurred in the Middle East. By looking at the archeological evidence of several areas of the Middle East, I will be able to hint on the reason why people started domestication and the way it evolved from the late Mesolithic to the early Neolithic. After this, I will examine the subsistence economy of various societies that were going through this transition. We will see that several Natufian and other early Neolithic sites exhibited both hunting and gathering practices together with early forms of agriculture and domestication. There have been different divisions of the prehistory of the Middle East. In this paper we will use the one developed by Ken Flannery in his article “Origins and ecological effects of early Near Eastern domestication”. He divides it in three periods. The first one is known as the semi-nomadic

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