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The Natufian culture (//) is a Late Epipaleolithic archaeological culture of the Levant, dating to around 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. The culture was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population even before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. 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. The world's oldest known evidence of the production of bread-like foodstuff has been found at Shubayqa 1, a 14,400-year-old site in Jordan's northeastern desert, 4,000 years before the emergence of agriculture in Southwest Asia In addition, the oldest known evidence of possible beer-brewing, dating to approximately 13,000 BP, was found at the Raqefet Cave in Mount Carmel near Haifa in Israel, although it may simply be a result of an organic and unintentional fermentation.
|Type site||Shuqba cave (Wadi an-Natuf)|
|Major sites||Shuqba cave, Ain Mallaha, Ein Gev, Tell Abu Hureyra|
|Preceded by||Kebaran, Mushabian|
|Followed by||Neolithic: Khiamian, Shepherd Neolithic|
Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals and hunted animals, including gazelles. Archaeogenetic analysis has revealed derivation of later (Neolithic to Bronze Age) Levantines primarily from Natufians, besides substantial admixture from Chalcholithic Anatolians.