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Composite Sickles and Cereal Harvesting Methods at 23,000-Years-Old Ohalo II, Israel

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ABSTRACT

Use-wear analysis of five glossed flint blades found at Ohalo II, a 23,000-years-old fisher-hunter-gatherers’ camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel, provides the earliest evidence for the use of composite cereal harvesting tools. The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally. The studied tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle. The finds shed new light on cereal harvesting techniques some 8,000 years before the Natufian and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East. Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.

No MeSH data available.


Micrographs showing nearly ripe semi-green cereal (wild oat) wear polishes observed on experimental tools: a: developed polish produced by sickle harvesting for 2 hours; b: polish developed to a lower degree produced by cutting with a blade held by hand for 1 hour; c: cereal prehension wear observed on the blade held by hand for cutting the cereals. Original magnification at all micrographs is x200.
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pone.0167151.g002: Micrographs showing nearly ripe semi-green cereal (wild oat) wear polishes observed on experimental tools: a: developed polish produced by sickle harvesting for 2 hours; b: polish developed to a lower degree produced by cutting with a blade held by hand for 1 hour; c: cereal prehension wear observed on the blade held by hand for cutting the cereals. Original magnification at all micrographs is x200.

Mentions: In order to establish and confirm the functional reconstruction, the analysis results were compared to the reference collection available at the use-wear analysis laboratory at the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa (Fig 2 shows examples of experimental tools with cereal use and prehension wear relevant for discussing the Ohalo II glossed blades). So far, twelve cereal harvesting experiments were conducted in wild stands and domesticated fields in various locations including the slopes of Mount Carmel, northern Israel, and in the western Negev, southern Israel. These experiments did not involve endangered or protected species. Wild cereals were represented by wild oat (Avena sterilis) and barley (Hordeum spontaneum and Hordeum bulbosum); these were harvested in a semi-green condition, when the stems were in their full height and still green, and the grains almost ripe. Domesticated cereals were represented by wheat (Triticum aestivum); harvesting took place when the stems were dry and the grains were fully ripe.


Composite Sickles and Cereal Harvesting Methods at 23,000-Years-Old Ohalo II, Israel
Micrographs showing nearly ripe semi-green cereal (wild oat) wear polishes observed on experimental tools: a: developed polish produced by sickle harvesting for 2 hours; b: polish developed to a lower degree produced by cutting with a blade held by hand for 1 hour; c: cereal prehension wear observed on the blade held by hand for cutting the cereals. Original magnification at all micrographs is x200.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5120854&req=5

pone.0167151.g002: Micrographs showing nearly ripe semi-green cereal (wild oat) wear polishes observed on experimental tools: a: developed polish produced by sickle harvesting for 2 hours; b: polish developed to a lower degree produced by cutting with a blade held by hand for 1 hour; c: cereal prehension wear observed on the blade held by hand for cutting the cereals. Original magnification at all micrographs is x200.
Mentions: In order to establish and confirm the functional reconstruction, the analysis results were compared to the reference collection available at the use-wear analysis laboratory at the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa (Fig 2 shows examples of experimental tools with cereal use and prehension wear relevant for discussing the Ohalo II glossed blades). So far, twelve cereal harvesting experiments were conducted in wild stands and domesticated fields in various locations including the slopes of Mount Carmel, northern Israel, and in the western Negev, southern Israel. These experiments did not involve endangered or protected species. Wild cereals were represented by wild oat (Avena sterilis) and barley (Hordeum spontaneum and Hordeum bulbosum); these were harvested in a semi-green condition, when the stems were in their full height and still green, and the grains almost ripe. Domesticated cereals were represented by wheat (Triticum aestivum); harvesting took place when the stems were dry and the grains were fully ripe.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Use-wear analysis of five glossed flint blades found at Ohalo II, a 23,000-years-old fisher-hunter-gatherers’ camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel, provides the earliest evidence for the use of composite cereal harvesting tools. The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally. The studied tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle. The finds shed new light on cereal harvesting techniques some 8,000 years before the Natufian and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East. Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.

No MeSH data available.