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A 12,000-year-old Shaman burial from the southern Levant (Israel)

By Leore Grosman, Natalie D. Munro and Anna Belfer-Cohen

Abstract

The Natufians of the southern Levant (15,000–11,500 cal BP) underwent pronounced socioeconomic changes associated with the onset of sedentism and the shift from a foraging to farming lifestyle. Excavations at the 12,000-year-old Natufian cave site, Hilazon Tachtit (Israel), have revealed a grave that provides a rare opportunity to investigate the ideological shifts that must have accompanied these socioeconomic changes. The grave was constructed and specifically arranged for a petite, elderly, and disabled woman, who was accompanied by exceptional grave offerings. The grave goods comprised 50 complete tortoise shells and select body-parts of a wild boar, an eagle, a cow, a leopard, and two martens, as well as a complete human foot. The interment rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest that this is the burial of a shaman, one of the earliest known from the archaeological record. Several attributes of this burial later become central in the spiritual arena of human cultures worldwide

Topics: Social Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2584673
Provided by: PubMed Central
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