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Provisioning the ritual neolithic site of Kfar HaHoresh, Israel at the dawn of animal management

By J. S. Meier, A. N. Goring-Morris, N. D. Munro

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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.

Publication Title PLoS One
Volume 11
Issue 11
Pages e0166573
ISBN/ISSN 1932-6203
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0166573
Author Address Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Animals
  5. Antelopes
  6. Asia
  7. Biodiversity
  8. Biological resources
  9. Bovidae
  10. Capra
  11. Cattle
  12. Demography
  13. Developed countries
  14. Diets
  15. Domestic animals
  16. Ecology
  17. Game animals
  18. Goats
  19. Hunting
  20. Indicators
  21. Israel
  22. Livestock
  23. Mammals
  24. Mediterranean region
  25. Middle East
  26. Nutrition
  27. open access
  28. Reproduction
  29. Ruminants
  30. timing
  31. ungulates
  32. vertebrates
  33. Wild animals
  34. Zoology
  1. open access