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Social Interaction in the Prehistoric Natufian

Generating an interactive agency model using GIS

Carla A Parslow


The objective of this research is to develop a model of social interaction for the Natufian culture in Southwest Asia through interpretation of environmental and material-culture variability. The author achieves this through the development of rigorous systematic grouping and spatial analysis of artifacts. The Natufian culture (approximately 13,000 or 12,800 BP) is critical to our understanding of the transition from mobile hunter-gatherers to sedentary hunter-gatherer-farmers. They are thought to represent one of the final periods of archaeologically known hunter-gatherers in Southwest Asia, preceding the advent of cultivation and agricultural economies. The people who we classify as Natufian are situated in the Levant, which now encompasses Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. This research is limited to those Natufian sites situated in what is now modern day Israel and Jordan. Characterization of the Natufian is primarily based on the chAped-stone technology. Other distinctive characteristics include material culture of ground stone, marine shell, and bone as well as architecture, bedrock mortars, and burials. The methods for this research include two components: systematics and spatial analysis. The first part addresses the theoretical paradigm and its role in this research. Chapter two explores the origins of agency theory and reviews the history of agency-centered research in archaeology, and discusses the theoretical perspective applied for this research. Chapter three explores the vibrant history of research on the Natufian. Chapters four to six introduce the archaeological data used in this research as well as the first stage of analysis. Chapters seven to nine direct attention to the second stage of analysis: spatial analysis. The last part of this research, chapter 10, tests the previous hypotheses and outlines the construction of an agency-centered model based on the information provided in the second stage of analysis, with the aim of constructing a model proposing social relations for a prehistoric population. Overall the study attempts to incorporate a social agency dimension into Natufian research.