Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


HARTMAN, Gideon, Anthropology Department, Univeristy of Connecticut, Unit 1176, 354 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269 and BRITTINGHAM, Alex, Department of Anthropology, Univeristy of Connecticut, Unit 1176, 354 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269,

The Younger Dryas (YD) was a major cooling event that took place in the Northern Hemisphere between 12,800 – 11,500 years ago as a result of an abrupt disruption to the thermohaline circulation. The timing of the YD event coincides with a marked decrease in the occupation intensity of the Natufians, the sedentary hunter-gatherers that inhabited the Mediterranean region of the southern Levant at this time. Whether the YD served as a catalyst for the initial development of agriculture in the region is a subject of intense debate. Two problems hamper reconstructions of the YD and its impact on the Natufians. First, the lack of agreement over the climatic and environmental impact of the YD in this region, and second, the rarity of radiocarbon dates from appropriate archaeological contexts hinders correlations with regional high resolution paleoclimate proxies. This study innovates by studying the remains of gazelles that were hunted by the Natufians and buried within archaeological contexts that demonstrate a clear cultural shift in occupation intensity between the Early and Late Natufian period. Gazelle teeth were sampled from the neighboring sites of Hayonim Cave and Hilazon Tachtit currently located in low altitude mesic Mediterranean settings in the Lower/Upper Galilee boundary region. Carbon and oxygen isotope (δ13C and δ18O) values measured in the tooth enamel of archaeological gazelles reflect the plant diet and water budget of the animals during their early life stages. The two isotopes are used here to reconstruct environmental conditions and potential shifts in the hunting territories of the Natufians before and during the YD. The results of this study will contribute to the debate about the importance of climatic impacts on the transition to agriculture.