The Natufian site of Eynan - 'Ain Mallaha (Galilee, Israel). Excavations 1996-2005

Eynan ('Ain Mallaha in Arabic) is located 33° 08’ North, 35° 57’ East in Israel. It constitutes one of the largest known Natufian settlements occupied according to C14 dating between 14,500 and 11,700 BP. Eynan - Ain Mallaha is often described as one of the first villages of the Humankind. It is located in the Hula Basin, a part of the Upper Jordan Valley, not far from an ancient lake, near a perennial spring. This setting in a rich, humid environment favored the development of sedentary life as attested by a long sequence of semi-subterranean rounded buildings and a large number of graves, in spite of a still entirely hunting and gathering economy.

Many issues are associated with the rise of settled life during the Natufian. They are mainly related to the environmental conditions that allowed people to make a living without changing place, to the way these conditions were taken advantage of, to the social developments needed to bound people together for long periods of time, and to the technical improvements allowed by the new way of life or required by the needs of growing communities. Finally, these questions bear on the origins of the process through which these early settled societies acquired later their food by domesticating plants and animals, and transform into a full-fledged Neolithic economy.

Each Natufian village seems to have experienced a peculiar way of survival due to the unique characteristics of its environmental setting. Eynan - Ain Mallaha is situated in reach of an exceptionally favorable association of ecological niches, which allowed the elaboration of a unique adaptation system. The study of the vast amount of finds from the site gives insights on the biodiversity encountered there and on the socio-economical system employed by people to take the best out of it. Finally, combining the data at hand may provide some insights about the organization of the group that allowed this successful adaptation.

With the support of the White-Levy Program for Archaeological Publications, we expect to complete the analysis and publish in three volumes the final report of the excavations conducted at Eynan - Ain Mallaha by François R. Valla (CNRS. France) and Hamudi Khalaily (Israel Antiquities Authority) from 1996 to 2005. The project team is composed of researchers from Israel, France, The USA, Canada, and Spain, including the directors of the excavations (Dr. Valla and Dr. Khalaily). 

The project is directed by Dr. José-Miguel Tejero.