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Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Turner II, there is archaeological and physical anthropological evidence for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant, Persian Gulf and the Natufians.
Prior to the 1930s, the majority of archaeological work taking place in Palestine was biblical archaeology focused on historic periods, and little was known about the region's prehistory.
Over the next two decades Garrod found Natufian material at several of her pioneering excavations in the Mount Carmel region, including el-Wad, Kebara and Tabun, as did the French archaeologist René Neuville, firmly establishing the Natufian in the regional prehistoric chronology.
As early as 1931, both Garrod and Neuville drew attention to the presence of stone sickles in Natufian assemblages and the possibility that this represented very early agriculture.
Some scholars use it to define a separate culture, the Harifian.
Sickle blades also appear for the first time in the Natufian lithic industry.
According to Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, "It seems that certain preadaptive traits, developed already by the Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran populations within the Mediterranean park forest, played an important role in the emergence of the new socioeconomic system known as the Natufian culture." Settlements occur in the woodland belt where oak and Pistacia species dominated.The period is commonly split into two subperiods: Early Natufian (12,500–10,800 BC) and Late Natufian (10,800–9,500 BC).The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas (10,800 to 9,500 BC).The habitations of the Natufian are semi-subterranean, often with a dry-stone foundation. No traces of mudbrick have been found, which became common in the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA).The round houses have a diameter between three and six meters, and they contain a central round or subrectangular fireplace.