What is the Natufian Culture? Significance: The origins of Agriculture.

This culture from around 12,000 years ago is significant in the history of agriculture. 

Wed Jan 27, 2021

A recent compulsory 10 Mark question in the 2020 Mains Anthropology PAPER I, had left a few aspirants puzzled. 

The answer was already given in the study material given to our learners, in the chapter on Neolithic Culture and origin of Agriculture.

For all aspirants who are curious to know more, here are the details on the Natufian Culture and their significance.


  • Dated to around 12,500-10,000 years ago, The Natufian culture is a civilization of the Levant (eastern Meditteranea).
  • Origin: The Kebaran culture eventually gave rise the Natufian culture.
  • In the belt of oak and pistachio forests bordered by the Mediterranean coast to the west and the desert to the east, the Natufians seem to have opted to reside in this coastal foothills. The region had more water than it does today and the cultivation of wild emmer wheat and barley stands were supported.
  • Significance: They have evidence for being the first settled villages and are characterised by the use of microliths and bone for implements.
  • They were noted for their cultivation of wheat and barley.
  • The Natufian hunter-gatherers were found to have extensive remains, for their detailed archeological study.
  • Animals and Herding: There is some evidence, as during the Kebaran culture, that herd animals were kept. Natufian sites have a high proportion of immature gazelle and goat bones. This is an indication that young animals were slaughtered for food by Natufians, while holding the adults for breeding.
  • Dwelling: The Natufians seem to have lived on cave terraces, near springs, or beside lakes and rivers in large settlements. 
  • While there is evidence of increasing sedentary activity, or dwelling in settlements, archaeologists differ with the degree to which this occurred. 
  • Clark (1977) considers their sites as base camps from which the Natufians migrated to pursue animal and plant resources that are seasonally available.
  • Diet: Grain, meat, fish.
  • The historical evidence suggests that Natufians harvested and grinded grains, probably wild barley and wheat as agriculture. 
  • The many bone and antler reaping-knife handles and flint sickle blades that display the sheen that comes from cutting stalks, suggesting that cereal grasses were being harvested. 
  • To grind these and probably other plant foods, stone mortars and pestles were used as well. Other stone tools included many microliths, burins, borers, and scrapers. Antler and bone fishhooks suggest that the Natufians also fished.
  • Tools and material culture: reaping knifes, sickle blades, microliths, burins, borers, scrapers, fishhooks.
  • Burials: Burials have been found, with ornaments such as pendants, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and belt-ornaments.

Kartic Godavarthy (Faculty)
Kartic Godavarthy (Ph.D) a.k.a G. S. Kartic, is an Anthropologist with close to three decades of experience in teaching and mentoring civil services aspirants. He is the author of the most popular resource material for Anthropology, and has mentored successful aspirants from all academic backgrounds. He is also a film-maker and strategic communications expert, bringing a cutting-edge multidimensional approach to his teaching. 

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