Archaeology Magazine

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Evidence of Ritual Meals Unearthed at Carmel Caves

Monday, November 18, 2013

HAIFA, ISRAEL—Thousands of animal bones, including bones of birds, tortoises, gazelles, wild boars, the common hare, and stone martens, have been discovered alongside human remains in a cave where Natufian hunter-gatherers buried their dead between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago. Dani Nadel of Haifa University and members of an international team of researchers think that the animal bones, which bear signs of butchery, are evidence of communal meals held at the graves. “The untypical and meticulous gathering of the leftover bones indicates that it had some significance after the meal was over, possibly of stashing it with the deceased,” said Reuven Yeshurun, also of the University of Haifa.