ʿAin Mallaha (also known as Eynan)

First Settlements - First steps towards agriculture

ʿAin Mallaha, also known as Eynan, was an Epipalaeolithic settlement belonging to the Natufian culture, built and settled circa 10,000–8,000 BCE. The settlement is an example of hunter-gatherer sedentism, a crucial step in the transition from foraging to farming.ʿAin Mallaha has one of the earliest known archaeological evidence of dog domestication.


Evidence of settlement at Mallaha (or 'Ain Mallaha) dates back to the Mesolithic period circa 10,000 BCE.5 The first permanent village settlement of pre-agricultural times in Palestine, Kathleen Kenyon describes the material remains found there as Natufian, consisting of 50 circular, semi-subterranean, one-room huts, paved with flat slabs and surrounded by stone walls up to 1.2 meters (3.9 ft) high.67 The floors and walls of the homes were decorated in solid white or red, a simple and popular decorative motif in the Near East at the time.5 The inhabitants appear to have subsisted on fish from nearby Lake Hula, as well as by hunting and gathering; no evidence of animal domestication or cultivation has been found,68 with the exception of dogs: the burial of a human being with a domestic dog at the site represents the earliest known archaeological evidence of dog domestication.


Eynan ('Ain Mallaha in Arabic) is located 33° 08’ North, 35° 57’ East in Israel. It constitutes one of the largest known Natufian settlements occupied according to C14 dating between 14,500 and 11,700 BP. Eynan - Ain Mallaha is often described as one of the first villages of the Humankind. It is located in the Hula Basin, a part of the Upper Jordan Valley, not far from an ancient lake, near a perennial spring. This setting in a rich, humid environment favored the development of sedentary life as attested by a long sequence of semi-subterranean rounded buildings and a large number of graves, in spite of a still entirely hunting and gathering economy.

Many issues are associated with the rise of settled life during the Natufian. They are mainly related to the environmental conditions that allowed people to make a living without changing place, to the way these conditions were taken advantage of, to the social developments needed to bound people together for long periods of time, and to the technical improvements allowed by the new way of life or required by the needs of growing communities. Finally, these questions bear on the origins of the process through which these early settled societies acquired later their food by domesticating plants and animals, and transform into a full-fledged Neolithic economy.

The Natufian site of Eynan - 'Ain Mallaha (Galilee, Israel). Excavations 1996-2005


Images from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ʿAin_Mallaha under Public Domain

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