From hunter-gatherers to farmers and ranchers in the Central and Southern Levant (Syria, Lebanon and Jordan)

The Kharaysin site has great potential for the historical reconstruction of the ways of life in the origins of the farming and livestock communities in the Middle East, from where the new ways of life were transmitted to Europe and Asia. Among the themes that allow us to approach its excavation are The origin and evolution of the first houses of humanity, the beginning of livestock and agriculture and their impact, the emergence of long-distance exchange networks and the emergence of new beliefs about the relationship between the living and the dead.


We study the chronological period between 12,000 and 6,800 years B.C., of transition between hunter-gatherer and farmer-livestock societies, with their cultural phases: Natufiense, Neolithic Preceramic A and Neolithic Preceramic B, including the appearance of the first ceramics.


Milà i Fontanals. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

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Principal Investigator(s)

Juan José Ibáñez Estévez
Milà i Fontanals. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

Juan Muñiz
Pontifical Faculty of St. Stephen’s.


Kharaysin, Zarqa Province, Jordan
Central and Southern Levant (Syria, Lebanon and Jordan



  • Origins of agriculture:
    Our work has shown that in 8,500 BC, two types of wheat and barley were in the process of domestication in the southern Levant. This is the oldest evidence of domestication of cereals found. The first cereal crops began a thousand years before, during the cold climatic pulse of the recent Dryas.
  • Origins of livestock farming:
    Studies on the fauna of Tell Qarassa North and Kharaysin show a significant consumption of the goat. The importance of goat in the fauna consumed, the proximity of man/animal indicating the presence of goat parts in some burials and the analysis of coproestanols in the sediment, indicators of coprolite abundance, would suggest that goat is in the process of domestication at the end of the 9th millennium BC.
    Invention of the house:
    We have documented the Natufian and Pre-Ceramic A cabins that are progressively being transformed into Neolithic houses. The oval floors change into squares, the inhabited spaces change from subway to surface, the walls are invented and the stable lime mortar floors appear.
  • The first villages:
    The settlements of the last hunter-gatherers appear as groups of up to twelve huts lined up in an arc. The “domestication” of the house includes the grouping of living structures forming neighborhoods, with circulation areas and orthogonal plans. In Kharaysin we are making evident the existence of a neolithic proto-urbanism.
  • Population Genetics:
    So far, the analysis of two intrusive burials of individuals from the late 7th century AD, at Tell Qarassa, buried following the Islamic ritual, has provided positive data. These are individuals genetically close to current populations of Saudi Arabia and the Bedouins, which allows us to trace the genetics of the first Islamized populations in the area.
  • Changes in beliefs:
    The iconography of the hunter-gatherers is fundamentally animalistic, while in the Neolithic the human image becomes dominant. This has been related to the appearance of beliefs in deities in what has been called the birth of religion. However, our iconographic and contextual studies of human images found at our Tell Qarassa North and Kharaysin sites indicate that human iconography is fundamentally linked to the funeral cult. The new link between the living and the dead would be key to understanding the cultural changes associated with the Neolithic.


Fundación Palarq Autor: Fundación Palarq
La Fundación Palarq es una entidad privada y sin ánimo de lucro que se crea con la finalidad de apoyar las Misiones en Arqueología y Paleontología Humana Españolas en el extranjero, excluyendo Europa, dentro de una perspectiva que abarca desde la etapa paleontológica a las épocas prehistóricas y las históricas en interés monumental