Unraveling Adaptive Strategies to Living by the Sea during the Early-Middle Holocene through the Study of Resource Utilization in the Carmel Coast Settlements

Human populations that lived on the ancient shoreline of the southern Levant during the early-middle Holocene (ca. 11,700-5000 years B.P.) include Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age I societies. These coped with severe natural changes (primarily sea level rise associated with reduction of arable coastal plain area, development of marshlands, as well as increased aridity) co-incident with an increase in socio-economic complexity from villages to pre-urban settlements. While these crucial changes have been studied in inland southern Levant settlements, only meagre evidence exists for coastal adaptations, partly because of scarcity of excavated sites that strictly represent early-mid Holocene seaside settlements. The Carmel coast is the only area where seaside settlements dating to the full range of the early-mid Holocene co-occur, and where some information on adaptation to living by the sea was obtained from PPNC Atlit Yam, yet only fragmentary data exists from Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic and EB I settlements. Thus, coastal adaptations in the early-mid Holocene southern Levant are virtually unknown.

This project explores the resources used by the early-mid Holocene populations of the Carmel coast. The research integrates fieldwork at five sites – PPNC Atlit Yam, PN (Yarmukian) Habonim North, PN (Wadi Rabah) Neve Yam and Tel Hreiz, and EB I Dor South – with several geo/micro-archaeological analytical approaches.


The EB I site of Dor South during excavation (February 2019). Photo by R. Shahack-Gross

The following materials, whose mineralogy, microscopic components, and chemistry hold information about resource utilization, are studied: flint, basalt ground stones, mud bricks, pottery, bones, teeth, plants, marine organisms, and anthropogenic sediments (occupation deposits). Analyses include mineralogy, petrography, micromorphology, phytolith, sponge, algae and other micro-remain analyses, geochemical and isotopic analyses.

The project is funded by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant # 697/20 to Ruth Shahack-Gross).