|12 February 2020
Prehistoric sheep-hunting camp in the Levant
Anthropologists have confirmed the existence of a more than 10,000-year-old hunting camp in what is now northeastern Lebanon, straddling the period marking the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural settlements at the onset of the last stone age.
Analysis of data from Nachcharini Cave, high in mountains forming the border between Lebanon and Syria, shows that sheep were the primary game at a short-term special purpose camp which served as a temporary outpost to developing and more substantial villages elsewhere in the region.
Radiocarbon dating of animal bones place the main deposits at the cave securely in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), a period from about 10,000 to 8,000 BCE during which the cultivation of crops, the construction of mud-brick dwellings, and other practices of domestication began to emerge. The stone tools found at the sites are mostly tiny arrowheads used for hunting.
It was already known that sheep hunting was practised in this region throughout periods that preceded the PPNA, and the evidence from Nachcharini Cave reinforces that understanding.
Edited from University of Toronto News (23 January 2020)
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