Ritual practice plays crucial social roles in human societies by communicating information about social status, calming tensions, and integrating communities. Although communication occurs through the act of ritual performance itself, the archaeological record rarely has the resolution to identify individual ritual actions. The high quality of preservation and recovery of a well-preserved grave of an unusual woman at the Late Natufian (12,000 cal BP) site of Hilazon Tachtit, Israel, enables the identification of multiple stages of a funerary ritual. These represent a variety of actions that allow glimpses into ritual performance as well as larger generalizations about Natufian ritual practice during this dynamic period at the beginning of the agricultural transition.
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We thank four anonymous reviewers for detailed and helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Special thanks to Noa Klein for digitizing and drafting the figures of Structure A and the site profile. Thanks to Alexander Bogdanovsky for his graphical expertise. This research would not have been possible without the hard work of the many students who participated in the Hilazon Tachtit excavations through the years or the careful analyses of project specialists Hila Ashkenazy, Daniella Bar-Yosef Mayer, Anna Belfer-Cohen, Laure Dubreuil,Noa Klein, ArielMalinsky-Buller, Arlene Rosen, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Dana Shaham, Anton Vaks, and Irit Zohar. We also thank Ofer Bar-Yosef, Anna Belfer-Cohen, Boaz Grosman, Gideon Hartman, and Rivka Rabinovich for assistance with various dimensions of this project. This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation (grant 459/11 to L. Grosman) and the National Science Foundation (BCS-0618937 to N. D. Munro).
© 2016 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.