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an archaeological Mesolithic culture dating from the eighth to tenth millennia B.C. It was widespread in the historical region of Palestine and, to some extent, in what are now Syria and southern Turkey. The culture was identified by the British archaeologist D. Garrod on the basis of finds in the cave of Shuqbah on the shore of Wadi-en-Natuf, 27 km northwest of Jerusalem (1928–32).
The Natufians generally lived in caves; sometimes they lived in settlements under the open sky or in semisubterranean dwellings whose walls were faced with clay mixed with sand or pebbles. They engaged in hunting, fishing, and the gathering of wild grain (using special knives for harvesting). The highly developed mode of gathering led to the emergence of an early farming culture in the prepottery Neolithic. Many archaeologists acknowledge that the Natufian culture may represent the most ancient primitive farming culture.
The Natufian culture is characterized by flint geometric-shaped, microlithic tools, flint insets for scythes and harvesting knives, mortars and pestles for grinding grain, and bone harpoons and fishhooks.
REFERENCESMasson, V. M. “K voprosu o mezolite Perednei Azii.” In Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSR, no. 126. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
Shnirel’man, V. A. “Natufiiskaia kul’tura (obzor literatury).” Sovetskaia arkheologiia, 1973, no. 1.
P. I. BORISKOVSKII