The Emergence of Animal Management in the Southern Levant


Saguaro Bldg., Room 225
1110 E. South Campus Drive
Tucson , AZ


Thu, 03/10/2016 - 2:30pm

School of Anthropology Distinguished Lecture 


Prof. Natalie D. Munro [Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut--Storrs]


10 March @ 2:30 pm

Saguaro Building, Room 225


“The Emergence of Animal Management in the Southern Levant”


Abstract. Investigations of the forager-producer transition in Southwest Asia have a long and dynamic history. Although significant leaps have been made in the amount and quality of data, intense debate remains over the timing, scale and nature of this transition. This presentation applies a deep time perspective to investigate the formative conditions of animal management in the southern Levant by examining zooarchaeological datasets from Epipaleolithic and Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites spanning 11,000 years.  Documenting the trade-off between domestic progenitor and wild animals from their earliest appearance allows subtle changes in the process of animal domestication and its ecological background to be observed in the archaeological record. Human hunting intensity is used as a proxy measure of changing investments in animal-based subsistence activities. A direct correspondence between the relaxation of several indices of intensive hunting and a step-wise increase in domestic progenitor species, reveals that animal management emerges out of an intensive hunting background in the southern Levant. Animal management is ultimately an effective solution to an increasingly intensive hunting regime caused by increased sedentism, territorality and demographic change surrounding the increased exploitation of cereal grasses and their cultivation.


Short Biography: Natalie Munro is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona (Ph.D. 2001), Simon Fraser University (M.A. 1994) and Southern Methodist University (B.S 1991). Munro studies the transition from foraging to farming societies in the eastern Mediterranean using ancient animal remains. She focuses on the formative conditions of agriculture and animal domestication, and the spread of agriculture into Europe. Using a behavioral ecological framework, she connects large zooarchaeological databases from individual sites to broader evolutionary themes such as human demography, animal domestication, sedentarization, and the emergence of public ritual practice at a regional scale. Munro has active research projects in Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Greece and has published widely in peer-reviewed journals such as SciencePNASCurrent Anthropology, and Journal of Human Evolution.