Risk, Reliability and Resilience: Phytolith Evidence for Alternative 'Neolithization' Pathways at Kharaneh IV in the Azraq Basin, Jordan.
Published Web Locationhttp://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0164081
'Neolithization' pathway refers to the development of adaptations that characterized subsequent Neolithic life, sedentary occupations, and agriculture. In the Levant, the origins of these human behaviors are widely argued to have emerged during the Early Epipaleolithic (ca. 23 ka cal BP). Consequently, there has been a pre-occupation with identifying and modeling the dietary shift to cereal and grains during this period, which is considered to have been a key development that facilitated increasing sedentism and, eventually, agriculture. Yet, direct evidence of plant use in the form of macrobotanical remains is extremely limited at Epipaleolithic sites and the expected 'Neolithization' pathway has not been robustly demonstrated. However, new direct microbotanical phytolith evidence from the large aggregation site of Kharaneh IV, in the Azraq Basin, suggests that increasingly settled occupation was not the result of wild grass and cereal use, but rather the result of a typical hunter-gatherer balance, based on the use of mostly reliable resources supplemented by some risky resources. Moreover, and illustrating this balance, the direct botanical evidence emphases the importance of the wetlands as an under-recognized reliable plant resource. Significantly, the use of these reliable wetland plant resources at Kharaneh IV represents an unexpected 'Neolithization' pathway.