Les fouilles de Mallaha en 2000 et 2001: 3ème rapport préliminaire

François Valla, Hamoudi Khalaily, Hélène Valladas, Nadine Tisnérat-Laborde, Nicolas Samuelian, Fanny Bocquentin, Rivka Rabinovich, Anne Bridault, Tal Simmons, Gaëlle Le Dosseur

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This paper reports on the excavation seasons 2000 and 2001 at Eynan (Ain Mallaha) in the Upper Jordan Valley. In addition, an attempt is made to provide an overview of the analysis conducted by the authors in their different spheres of expertise. Field work concentrated mainly on Final Natufian deposits, but an endeavour to clarify stratigraphie discrepancies in earlier layers led to recognition of a formerly unknown occupation from the Early Epi-paleolithic. During the course of this research graves from the Early or Late Natufian episode were uncovered. The two main phases of building activity distinguished in the Final Natufian layer during the season 1996-1999 are now known as Ib2 (lower) and Ibl (upper). Two 14C dates ca. 10,500 BP uncalibrated were obtained for Ib2. It appears that each of the uncovered buildings, whatever the phase, went through a complicated history. As had been suspected, not every building served as a "house". It seems now possible to reconstruct a kind of "ideal model" followed by Final Natufian house makers at the site. Accordingly, at least one of the excavated building first intended for an unknown purpose was then converted into a house. More Final Natufian graves were excavated. They confirm that people were usually buried individually, often in hypercontracted position. Samples of flint and animal bones collected in the stony layer lb were analysed for the sake of comparisons with refuses originating from living floors, previously processed. Despite minor differences, the assemblages are very similar. Such finding will have to be understood in the frame of a broader study of Natufian behavior at the site. A study of bird remains confirms the conclusion from former work by Pichon in showing that Final Natufian hunters chose to search for waterfowl, which they ate. The coot is the main game. Bone tools were submitted to a technological analysis, which led to the elaboration of hypotheses aimed at reconstructing the way they were produced. From a cultural view point, Final Natufian bone tool makers appear somewhat more conservative and the assemblages less impoverished than previously thought. Ten samples from various contexts were selected for search of phytoliths and proved of interest, both for the amount of phytoliths they bear and for the differences in content they show at each place. Mats, basketworks and possible reed walls are suggested. A differential treatment for wheat is apparent but needs further confirmation. Starch grains are abundant and will be examined later for determination. A brief overview of the stone tools is offered with some hypotheses about the materials processed. Decorative shells are described. Comparison between Final Natufian and earlier pieces indicates a trend toward shorter dentalium beads. Finally, a detailed catalogue of the "small finds" is presented, in line with the effort undertaken in former reports to elaborate a corpus of these items. The last section of the paper is devoted to a discussion aimed at a reappraisal of some of the issues raised about the Natufian culture in light of the new data. Sedentism, possible manipulation of the environment for food, cultural behavior and the way of thinking are considered.
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)49-244
Number of pages196
JournalMitekufat Haeven: Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society / מתקופת האבן
StatePublished - 2004

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