Natufian Woman

Natufian Woman

This woman from the Natufian culture is harvesting some early wheat with her rudimentary sickle, which she has made by attaching stone bladelets to a wooden handle.

The Natufians were an Epipaleolithic culture which thrived in the Levant (Israel to Syria, in the Middle East) between 12500 and 9500 BC. They started out as hunter-gatherers living in small villages, but archaeologists believe their exploitation and cultivation of wild grains laid the foundations for the first agriculture in Western Eurasia.

Both the Natufians’ material culture and certain skeletal features suggest an origin or at least influence from the African continent, and one recent study even found a preponderance of African haplogroups such as E (on the Y-chromosome) in DNA extracted from their remains. Nonetheless, their African ancestry would be carried over with the spread of agriculture into Europe and the Middle East, and to this day it can constitute up to a third of European people’s ancestry. You can think of it as yet another “Out of Africa” migration into Eurasia.

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