were hunter-gatherers who lived in the eastern Mediterranean region 15,000 to 11,500 years ago, and began settling down rather than moving from place to place.
The earliest archaeological evidence for cereal-based beer brewing even before the advent of agriculture comes from the Natufians
, semi-sedentary, foraging people, living in the Eastern Mediterranean between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods, following the last Ice Age.
Discovered in a cave in the Judean Desert in Israel, it may have been used by the hunter-gatherers Natufians
for fertility rituals.
Discovered in a cave near Bethlehem, the figurine has an overall "phallic shape" and may have been used by the Natufians
for rituals associated with fertility.
Some 14,000 years ago the area was densely populated by the Natufians
, whose name derived from a stream.
In his view, those huts--but not the Kharaneh IV huts--were precursors of 14,500-year-old oval structures with stone foundations built at several Middle Eastern sites by the Natufians
, the first foraging society known to inhabit permanent settlements.
The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) burials were similar to the Natufians
being pits dug in soil as in Sabra (Finlayson et al.
"Environmental stresses may also have caused Natufians
in the Near East to settle down for the first time and pursue agriculture," he said.
Throughout much of their existence, Natufians
avidly hunted gazelle as well as small animals such as tortoises, partridges, and hares.
Plant food shortages may have provided an important incentive for cereal cultivation by early Natufians
, Unger-Hamilton says.
people of the Levant were among the first hunter-gatherers to adopt a sedentary way of life, establishing large base camps with stone structures in the Mediterranean hills.
It is the open-air Natufian
settlement at Eynan which shows this change most dramatically.