Hallan Çemi Tepesi: high-ranked game exploitation alongside intensive seed processing at the Epipaleolithic-Neolithic transition in southeastern Turkey


en Anthropozoologica 44 (1) - Pages 41-61

Published on 06 July 2009

This article is a part of the thematic issue Zooarchaeology and the reconstruction of cultural systems: Case studies from the Old World

Faunal evidence from Hallan Çemi Tepesi in southeastern Turkey reveals important similarities and differences in subsistence patterns when compared to the Levant at the time of the Epipaleolithic-Neolithic transition. Possible diet breadth expansion is examined at Hallan Çemi based on prey species and biomass composition, body part analysis, age profiles, and carcass processing patterns. The occupants of Hallan Çemi hunted a wide range of animals, including wild sheep and goats, pigs, red deer, and tortoises. Low-ranked, fast-moving small game animals such as hares and avian fauna are comparatively rare. Small game use at Hallan Çemi resembles patterns observed in some late Natufian sites, but there is focused exploitation of young ungulates at Hallan Çemi. The site presents a seemingly contradictory pairing of a meat diet composed of high-ranked animal resources and intensive plant seed processing. Also supporting the overall picture of high-ranked animal exploitation are transport biases that favored the meatiest portions of ungulate carcasses, particularly the upper front limb region. Potential explanations for the contrasting meat and plant diet patterns must consider expanding diet breadth in response to demographic packing (expressed mainly in terms of plant exploitation) and display behaviors that emphasized large game but not other parts of the food supply.


Hallan Çemi Tepesi, Epipaleolithic, diet breadth, southeastern Anatolia, intensification, small-game use, zooarchaeology.

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