Local adoption of animal husbandry in the southern Levant: An isotopic perspective from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B funerary site of Kfar HaHoresh

Cheryl A. Makarewicz, Liora Kolska Horwitz, A. Nigel Goring-Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Animal husbandry emerged as an important subsistence strategy at various tempos and trajectories across the southern Levant during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (ca. 8500-6500 cal BC). Here, we explore temporal variation in the emergence of animal management strategies, in particular those that alter the composition of the animal diet, west of the Jordan Valley, through carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopic analyses of mountain gazelle, bezoar goat and aurochsen bone collagen from the funerary complex of Kfar HaHoresh. Analyses presented here show an extended range of carbon isotope values in the collagens of Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) goats relative to Middle PPNB goats, which are also enriched in13C relative to contemporaneous gazelle. This shift may reflect a greater catchment from which morphologically wild goats derived or that some of the goats at Kfar HaHoresh were provided with some fodder. If the latter is the case, then the use of fodder by 7500 cal BC at Kfar HaHoresh is a relatively late development, emerging several hundred years after goat husbandry strategies emphasising a juvenile harvest and fodder provisioning that first came into use in the Mediterranean region of the southern Levant. There is a pronounced enrichment of nitrogen isotopes in Early PPNB aurochsen, ritually important animals derived from a unique feasting deposit, relative to that of gazelle and goats. Though this may reflect more specialised feeding behaviour in aurochsen compared to the other two bovid groups, an alternative interpretation is that the aurochsen ingested enriched15N from manured pasture, following restriction of their movement by people. These isotopic data support the documented pattern of a delayed adoption of goat husbandry in the lower Galilee region and may point to differential developmental trajectories where some forms of animal management emerged out of ritual rather than subsistence needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-213
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Association for Environmental Archaeology 2016.


  • Animal management
  • Carbon isotope
  • Fodder provisioning
  • Funerary site
  • Neolithic
  • Nitrogen isotope


Dive into the research topics of 'Local adoption of animal husbandry in the southern Levant: An isotopic perspective from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B funerary site of Kfar HaHoresh'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this