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Neolithic coastal settlements were resilient in the face of climate change

A study of the submerged site of Habonim North indicates that Neolithic coastal settlements were resilient in the face of climate change.

Habonim North is located 200 metres south of Tel Nami in Israel’s Carmel Coast. It was first identified between 2015 and 2017 at a depth of 2.5 to 3.0 metres, and then rediscovered in 2018 during an underwater survey.

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Excavations by the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Haifa have uncovered a series of walls and two round-stone installations, both constructed of a single course of stone.

The removal of sediment layers has revealed numerous objects, including pottery, lithics, bone and botanical assemblages (mainly seeds), which according to the study authors provide information about the extent of the site and the intensity of its occupation.

The pottery and ceramics include light-coloured ware with coarse temper, the knob handle from a storage jar. and the painted rim of a hole-mouth jar. Based on the style and form, the pottery can be associated with Yarmukian and Jericho IX sites, where similar examples have previously been found.

Image Credit : Antiquity

A radiocarbon analysis of charred botanical remains indicates that Habonim North dates from between the 6th to 7th millennium BC, also corresponding with the range of the Yarmukian and Jericho IX phases during the Early Pottery Neolithic (EPN).

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Around this time, coastal settlements collapsed in the wake of the 8.2-kiloyear event, a climatic drop in global temperatures around 6,200 BC.

However, postdating the 8.2ka climatic event, Habonim North demonstrates a resilient, sedentary site, with a complex and diverse economic system that included local production and long-distance exchange.

According to the study authors: “Diversification is evident in the addition of non-local raw materials and goods, which likely arrived through exchange. This is seen in the basalt finds, made of a material that is not found along the Carmel Coast, which have typological parallels from inland sites.”

The zooarchaeological assemblage also demonstrates how the community used domestic and wild animals, supplemented by a diet of fish from the coast.

“These results indicate that early Neolithic societies were resilient and sustainable, providing the foundation for the later social and economic changes that lead to the development of urbanism.”

Header Image Credit : Antiquity

Sources : Antiquity | Nickelsberg R, Levy TE, Shahack-Gross R, et al. Continuity and climate change: the Neolithic coastal settlement of Habonim North, Israel. Antiquity. 2024;98(398):343-362. doi:10.15184/aqy.2024.32

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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