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Complex caprine harvesting practices and diversified hunting strategies: Integrated animal exploitation systems at Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B 'Ain Jamman

Cheryl A. MAKAREWICZ

en Anthropozoologica 44 (1) - Pages 79-101

Published on 06 July 2009

Sheep and goat herding formed the central component of the animal-based portion of late Pre-Pottery Neolithic subsistence economies in the southern Levant, but a detailed understanding of the diversity of animal exploitation systems and the array of caprine management practices employed during the Late PPNB, a dynamic cultural period distinguished by dramatic shifts in settlement systems and social organization, is remarkably lacking. New species abundance, metrical, and demographic data from ‘Ain Jammam, a large Late PPNB settlement located in southern Jordan, indicate a complex animal exploitation system was in use at the site and entailed intensive management of domestic caprines, sustained exploitation of wild ungulates, and use of new animal technologies. The variety of complementary caprine harvesting strategies employed at ‘Ain Jammam, including moderate kill-off of young male sheep and delayed, but extensive, harvesting of male goats while promoting female survivorship, suggest scheduled use and extraction of ante- and post-mortem animal resources. The relatively high abundance of gazelle in the ‘Ain Jammam assemblage indicates that the animal served as an important, perhaps seasonal, meat resource that supplemented foodstuffs obtained from domesticated caprines. High variation in cattle body size and represented demographic groups, as well as over-representation of low-utility body parts, suggests exploitation of both wild and managed taurines at the site. These zooarchaeological data from ‘Ain Jammam suggest that Late PPNB herding and hunting activities comprised a completely new animal subsistence package that integrated new developments in caprine and taurine management strategies with pre-existing animal husbandry and hunting systems in order to meet increased demand for animal resources spurred by shifts in human settlement patterns toward dense inhabitation of aggregate settlements. Sheep and goat herding formed the central component of the animal-based portion of late Pre-Pottery Neolithic subsistence economies in the southern Levant, but a detailed understanding of the diversity of animal exploitation systems and the array of caprine management practices employed during the Late PPNB, a dynamic cultural period distinguished by dramatic shifts in settlement systems and social organization, is remarkably lacking. New species abundance, metrical, and demographic data from ‘Ain Jammam, a large Late PPNB settlement located in southern Jordan, indicate a complex animal exploitation system was in use at the site and entailed intensive management of domestic caprines, sustained exploitation of wild ungulates, and use of new animal technologies. The variety of complementary caprine harvesting strategies employed at ‘Ain Jammam, including moderate kill-off of young male sheep and delayed, but extensive, harvesting of male goats while promoting female survivorship, suggest scheduled use and extraction of ante- and post-mortem animal resources. The relatively high abundance of gazelle in the ‘Ain Jammam assemblage indicates that the animal served as an important, perhaps seasonal, meat resource that supplemented foodstuffs obtained from domesticated caprines. High variation in cattle body size and represented demographic groups, as well as over-representation of low-utility body parts, suggests exploitation of both wild and managed taurines at the site. These zooarchaeological data from ‘Ain Jammam suggest that Late PPNB herding and hunting activities comprised a completely new animal subsistence package that integrated new developments in caprine and taurine management strategies with pre-existing animal husbandry and hunting systems in order to meet increased demand for animal resources spurred by shifts in human settlement patterns toward dense inhabitation of aggregate settlements.

Keywords :

Near East, caprine husbandry, cattle exploitation, harvesting.

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