In B or Not in B: A Reappraisal of the Natufian Burials at Shukbah Cave, Judaea, Palestine. (Research)

By Weinstein-Evron, M. | Antiquity, March 2003 | Go to article overview

In B or Not in B: A Reappraisal of the Natufian Burials at Shukbah Cave, Judaea, Palestine. (Research)


Weinstein-Evron, M., Antiquity


Shukbah cave and its context

The Natufian (ca. 13 000-10 500 BP) is a transitional culture between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic ways of life and economic subsistence in the Levant. Archaeological manifestations typical of the Natufian include large settlements, durable architectural remains, prolific microlithic stone and bone industries, ornamented objects and large cemeteries. Some 500 burials are known, which vary in composition (multiple or single, age and gender), burial position (flexed, extended) and mode of inhumation (primary or secondary; inclusion of stones or grave goods). Decorated burials are a characteristic feature of the Early Natufian while skull removal is a custom that appears in the later Natufian and continues into the Neolithic.

Shukbah Cave was the first Natufian site to be discovered in the Levant. Excavated by Dorothy Garrod in 1928 (1928, 1942), it included a number of burials and an assemblage of artefacts which first defined the Natufian period. But unlike most other Natufian sites (e.g. el-Wad; Garrod and Bate 1937; Valla et al. 1986; Weinstein-Evron 1998), it has not subsequently been re-excavated. Our information about the "classic" site and cemetery of Shukbah remains dependent on the findings and interpretations that Garrod left us in her reports. In the light of this, the recent recovery of her hand-written field notebooks (Smith et al. 1997) presents us with a welcome opportunity to revisit the archaeological evidence and place it in the context of more recent studies. What follows is a re-appraisal of the Shukbah burials, arguing from the field notes as well as the published data.

Stratification

The Shukbah Cave is located on the northern bank of Wadi en-Natuf, on the western flanks of the Judaean Hills, some 30 km inland from the Mediterranean (Figure 1). It contains a central chamber (Chamber I; Figure 2a) and two side chambers (II and III). There are two chimneys in the ceiling of the main chamber and a swallow hole in its rock floor, descending to an unknown depth. As a result of repeated subsidence episodes, erosion of the archaeological layers is apparent in various stages of the sedimentary fill, complicating the interpretation of the stratigraphic and cultural sequence. Garrod spent about two months investigating the site during which she excavated more than a half of the central chamber and carried out a sounding in Chamber III (Figure 2a). The archaeological sequence uncovered contained the following layers (Garrod 1942), from top to bottom (Figure 2b): Layer A, Early Bronze to Recent; Layer B, Upper Natufian; Layer C, containing abraded, re-deposited material eroded from Layer D; Layer D, made up mostly of breccia containing Upper Levallois-Mousterian implements, had suffered intense erosion, and its surface "scoured into deep hollows separated by hummocks of harder material which had resisted erosion to a greater or less extent" (Garrod 1942:3). Two of these mounds of breccia were preserved to a depth of 2.5-3.0 m (Garrod 1928); others were much smaller and, in places, Layer D had been eroded right down to bedrock (Figure 2b).

[FIGURES 1-2 OMITTED]

Of these, Layer B, which was restricted to the main chamber, turned out to be the most important of the sequence. It was 0.50-3.50 m thick, and yielded a microlithic chipped stone industry, previously unknown in the area, dominated by microlithic lunates and sickle-blades. This was found in association with bone implements and several human burials. An engraved bone, depicting " ... a rough zig-zag design, made of groups of five incisions along both edges" (Garrod 1942:8), constitutes the first prehistoric art object ever discovered in the Levant. After Garrod had started excavating at el-Wad Cave in Mount Carmel where she was able to bring similar assemblages to light, she realised that the "Mesolithic" (or late Epi-Palaeolithic) cultural assemblage she had found at Shukbah had its own distinctive character and significance, in recognition of which she named it Natufian, after the wadi in which the cave is located.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In B or Not in B: A Reappraisal of the Natufian Burials at Shukbah Cave, Judaea, Palestine. (Research)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.