Insights into Natufian Social Identity: A Case Study from the Graveyard of Hayonim Cave

Leore Grosman, Anna Belfer-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summing up the data deriving from the Natufian burials at Hayonim Cave which incorporates information pertaining to the last grave uncovered on site (Grave XVII), the paper endeavours to understand the role of burials within the evolving Natufian society at large. It seems that certain sites - Hayonim Cave being a case in point - served as special localities, used by a particular group as a burial ground all through the Natufian time-span (i.e. for more than 3000 years). Members of that group returned to the cave again and again in order to bury their dead, being aware of the location of the preceding graves, apparently retaining a long-term memory of their burial practices. At the same time, at least some burials provide evidence for inter-group ties, as evident through particular similarities between certain burials in two distinct Natufian sites, Hayonim Cave and Eynan ('Ain Mallaha). Clearly, retention of mortuary practices played a significant role in consolidating and preserving social cohesion in the Natufian society.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)247-264
Number of pages18
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (# 855/03 and # 202/05 to AB-C; #459/11, #1415/14 and 2034/19 to LG).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.


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