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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6821-6. Epub 2004 Apr 16.

Stone Age hut in Israel yields world's oldest evidence of bedding.

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  • 1Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel.


The earliest archaeological remains of dwelling huts built by Homo sapiens were found in various European Upper Paleolithic open-air camps. Although floors of huts were found in a small number of cases, modern organization of the home space that includes defined resting areas and bedding remains was not discovered. We report here the earliest in situ bedding exposed on a brush hut floor. It has recently been found at the previously submerged, excellently preserved 23,000-year-old fisher-hunter-gatherers' camp of Ohalo II, situated in Israel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The grass bedding consists of bunches of partially charred Puccinellia confer convoluta stems and leaves, covered by a thin compact layer of clay. It is arranged in a repeated pattern, on the floor, around a central hearth. This study describes the bedding in its original context on a well preserved intentionally constructed floor. It also reconstructs on the basis of direct evidence (combined with ethnographic analogies) the Upper Paleolithic hut as a house with three major components: a hearth, specific working locales, and a comfortable sleeping area near the walls.

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