My research applies zooarchaeological techniques to issues surrounding the transition to agriculture in Southwest Asia. In particular I use prey ecological models to understand human impacts on wild animal populations and their implications for the beginning of animal domestication, human demography and economic change.
Areas of Expertise (2)
Media Appearances (2)
Ancient Israel Ritual Site with 12,000-year-old Skeletons is earliest evidence of Holiday Feast
Ritual practice may have emerged along with other early modern human behaviors more than 100,000 years ago. However, proving this with material evidence is a challenge. For example, researchers have found that both Neanderthals and early modern humans buried their dead, but scholars weren’t certain whether this was for spiritual or symbolic reasons and not for something more mundane like maintaining site hygiene. Likewise, the discovery of 100,000-year-old symbolic artifacts like pierced shell ornaments and decorated chunks of red ochre in caves in South Africa, was not sufficient to prove that they were part of any ritual activities.
An archaeological dig in Israel provides clues to how feasting became an important ritual
San Francisco Chronicle online
Archaeological evidence shows that such communally shared meals have long been vital components of human rituals. My colleague Leore Grosman and I discovered the earliest evidence of a ritual feast at a 12,000-year-old archaeological site in northern Israel and learned how feasts came to be integral components of modern-day ritual practice.
Mary C Stiner, Hijlke Buitenhuis, Güneş Duru, Steven L Kuhn, Susan M Mentzer, Natalie D Munro, Nadja Pöllath, Jay Quade, Georgia Tsartsidou, Mihriban Özbaşaran
2014 Aşıklı Höyük is the earliest known preceramic Neolithic mound site in Central Anatolia. The oldest Levels, 4 and 5, spanning 8,200 to approximately 9,000 cal B.C., associate with round-house architecture and arguably represent the birth of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in the region. Results from upper Level 4, reported here, indicate a broad meat diet that consisted of diverse wild ungulate and small animal species...
Mary C Stiner, Natalie D Munro
2011 Franchthi Cave in southern Greece preserves one of the most remarkable records of socioeconomic change of the Late Pleistocene through early Holocene. Located on the southern end of the Argolid Peninsula, the area around the site was greatly affected by climate variation and marine transgression. This study examines the complex interplay of site formation processes (material deposition rates), climate-driven landscape change, and human hunting systems during the Upper Paleolithic through Mesolithic at Franchthi Cave based on the H1B faunal series...