Posts Tagged ‘hunting’


Topic: Hunting, agriculture and domestication

A new study on the populations of wild cattle and boars in the Levant Valley by Nimrod Marom, Guy Bar-OzLaboratory of Archaeozoology, University of Haifa, Israel has been published in PLOSone online Journal. The research helps reshape our present understanding on the beginning of agriculture and domestication of animals.

The faunal assemblage from the 9th-8th millennium BP site at Sha’ar Hagolan, was used to study human interaction with wild suids (pigs) and cattle in a time period just before the appearance of domesticated animals of these species in the Jordan Valley.

Sha`ar Hagolan: A Neolithic transition

The early Neolithic village was occupied ca. 8000-7500 years during what is known in the region as the Yarmukian Culture. The site is already famous for the remarkable assemblages of figurines with one of the structures yielding approximately 70 made of stone or fired clay. It is also one of the first sites in the area that pottery is found.

No other single site of this period has produced so many figurines in a single building, and among the outstanding art objects from Sha’ar HaGolan are figurines in human form made of fired clay (above) or stylistic carved pebbles.

At the centre of the village stood a large, well-constructed building, serving what may be assumed to be a communal function. It has a courtyard reached from the narrow, winding alley which runs between the domestic structures of the settlement. Several rectangular rooms with thick mudbrick walls and one circular room, which served as a silo, were built around the courtyard.

Crossing into domestication

The results, based on demographic and osteometric data, indicate that full domestication of both cattle and suids occurred at the site during the 8th millennium. Importantly, domestication was preceded in both cow and suids demographics indicating severe overhunting.

The possible role of overhunting in shaping the characteristics of domesticated animals and the social infrastructure to ownership of herds is seen as plausible.

The most common marker used to document domestication are demographic, bio-geographic and morphological changes that occur in the transformation of a wild species into a domesticated one.

The onset of this process can be found in sheep, goat, cattle and pigs in certain parts of the Near East from the 12th millennium BP onwards.

Age-at-death and sex ratio analyses of early livestock show increasing departure from the prime-adult pattern that typified Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic hunting to a selective culling of younger male animals which suggests domesticated herds.

DNA extraction from Neolithic zooarchaeological specimens in the region has so far been unsuccessful and so the researchers limited the inquiry to morphometric and demographic data which are to date the most commonly used methods for documenting the transition from hunting to controlled selection (the first step to full domestication).

Body-size in cattle and suids was recorded as significantly smaller than that of the reference specimens from local wild populations during the earliest phase of settlement at the site, in the PPN (Pre Pottery Neolithic)

By documenting the sex, age at death and general body mass, it becomes clearer that the access to wild animals is decreasing and more pressure is placed on smaller, younger and mainly male animals.

These demographic markers can be directly linked to an evolving human-animal relationship and show perhaps a foundation of domestication in a growing need, based on overhunting.

Original article:


Feb 11, 2013


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Topic: ancient recycling

A study at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) reveals that humans from the Upper Palaeolithic Age recycled their stone artefacts to be put to other uses. The study is based on burnt artefacts found in the Molí del Salt site in Tarragona, Spain.

The recycling of stone tools during Prehistoric times has hardly been dealt with due to the difficulties in verifying such practices in archaeological records. Nonetheless, it is possible to find some evidence, as demonstrated in a study published in the ‘Journal of Archaeological Science’.

“In order to identify the recycling, it is necessary to differentiate the two stages of the manipulation sequence of an object: the moment before it is altered and the moment after. The two are separated by an interval in which the artefact has undergone some form of alteration. This is the first time a systematic study of this type has been performed,” as explained to SINC by Manuel Vaquero, researcher at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

The archaeologists found a high percentage of burnt remains in the Molí del Salt site (Tarragona), which date back to the end of the Upper Palaeolithic Age some 13,000 years ago. The expert ensures that “we chose these burnt artefacts because they can tell us in a very simple way whether they have been modified after being exposed to fire.”

The results indicate that the recycling of tools was normal during the Upper Palaeolithic Age. However, this practice is not documented in the same way as other types of artefacts. The use of recycled tools was more common for domestic activities and seems to be associated with immediate needs.

Recycling domestic tools

Recycling is linked to expedited behaviour, which means simply shaped and quickly available tools as and when the need arises. Tools used for hunting, like projectile points for instance, were almost never made from recycled artefacts. In contrast, double artefacts (those that combine two tools within the same item) were recycled more often.

“This indicates that a large part of these tools were not conceived from the outset as double artefacts but a single tool was made first and a second was added later when the artefact was recycled,” outlines the researcher. The history of the artefacts and the sequence of changes that they have undergone over time are fundamental in understanding their final morphology.

According to Vaquero, “in terms of the objects, this is mostly important from a cultural value point of view, especially in periods like the Upper Palaeolithic Age, in which it is thought that the sharper the object the sharper the mind.”

Sustainable practices with natural resources

Recycling could have been determinant in hunter-gatherer populations during the Palaeolithic Age if we consider the behaviour of current indigenous populations nowadays.

“It bears economic importance too, since it would have increased the availability of lithic resources, especially during times of scarcity. In addition, it is a relevant factor for interpreting sites because they become not just places to live but also places of resource provision,” states the researcher.

Reusing resources meant that these humans did not have to move around to find raw materials to make their tools, a task that could have taken them far away from camp. “They would simply take an artefact abandoned by those groups who previously inhabited the site.”

Vaquero and the team believe that this practice needs to be borne in mind when analysing the site. “Those populating these areas could have moved objects from where they were originally located. They even could have dug up or removed sediments in search of tools,” highlights the researcher.

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Topic Ancient Hunting

I was not able to copy the photo’s that are associated with this post, bur if you follow the link below you can see how impressive a find this is.

Mysterious lines on the deserts of the Near East are massive ancient hunting tools, made up of low stone walls.

British RAF pilots in the early 20th century were the first to spot the strange kite-like lines on the deserts of Israel, Jordan and Egypt from the air and wonder about their origins. The lines are low, stone walls, usually found as angled pairs, that begin far apart and converge at circular pits. In some places in Jordan the lines formed chains up to 40 miles long.

Were they made by some weird kind of fault? Ancient astronauts?

A new study of 16 of what are called desert kites in the eastern Sinai Desert confirms what many researchers have long suspected: The walls form large funnels to direct gazelle and other large game animals into killing pits. What’s more, the kites are between 2,300 and 2,400-years-old, were abandoned about 2,200 years ago and are just the right size to have worked on local gazelles and other hooved game.

The research shows that the construction of the kite was actually more sophisticated than it seemed before, their use was more diverse than we thought, and the ancients’ knowledge of animal ethology was deeper and more intimate than one would think,” said Uzi Avner of Ben-Gurion University-Eilat, in Israel.

“We have no doubt at all that the kites were built for hunting, not for any other suggested function.”

Avner is a co-author of a paper on the new research which will appear in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Arid Environments.

For a time, many researchers suspected the kites might be corrals for protecting domesticated animals, but that idea has fallen out of favor as more research has been done.

“The hunting theory is the most accepted, and it appears that for most kites this was indeed the use,” said Dani Nadel, another kite researcher from the University of Haifa, Israel. “There are similar structures, either from wood or from stone, on most continents.”

Interestingly, the walls of the kites are not high enough to actually block the animals. Rather, they just seem to channel herds in the right direction. Modern wildlife managers in the same region have used a similar approach by laying pipes on the ground to direct gazelles into a corral, Avner reports.

A careful examination of not just the kites but their locations in relation to pastures and migration routes makes it very clear that desert kites were specialized for specific types of animals. Before the 20th century the region was home to several different species of gazelle, wild asses, hartebeests, oryxes, ibexes, dorcas and onagers.

Some kites cleverly exploited low spots in the landscape to lure animals into the unseen killing pit.

“Indeed, the pit would have appeared to the animals in the funnel as an opening in the boundary walls of the kite through which they could flee,” Avner reports.

Another sort of kite was found on steep slopes or ridges below a plateau or shoulder of a hill so that animals driven over the ridge would suddenly be confronted by the installation before and below them, Avner explained.

As for why the kites fell out of use, it’s still a bit of a mystery, says Nadel.

“They were abandoned, in several south-Negev cases, by the beginning of the middle Bronze age,” said Nadel. “This may suggest a climatic change and or a shift in subsistence strategies.”

Original article

Larry OHanlon

April 2010


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