"The first clear evidence of a successful and long term settled community comes from people called the Natufians, who lived in the Near East from about 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. They occupied lands on the eastern side of the Mediterranean, in the region that is now Israel, Jordan and Syria. The early Natufians gathered the wild emmer wheat and barley that grew there. They made stone sickles to cut the cereal grases, and the sickles bear signs of the characteristic polish caused by the silica in cereal stalks.
"[...] It is of interest that the Natufians, as the earliest known settled people, were no strangers to war or to religion, two characteristic human activities that shaped societies before and since. The Natufians have consistently been portrayed as peaceful but closer examination of remains from one site has recently shown evidence of violent conflict between Natufian groups.
"Natufian society is interesting for its burial practices, which indicate the emergence both of social inequality and of a disconcertingly intimate form of ancestor worship. Some 10% of early Natufian burials include decorations of marine shells and pendants made of animal teeth, suggesting the presence of a richer elite. In the later Natufian period, as the rigors of the Younger Dryas began, the society was forced to become more mobile, and their mortuary practices reflect a shift back toward a more egalitarian society."
* Rosenthal 1973 p17
"In Israel, the earliest extant objects of adornment are dated to the Natufian period, that is, when man started to make his home in caves and huts. During this period, people buried the dead below the living levels of their homes.
"In Mount Carmel, near the present-day city of Haifa, in a cemetery near the el-Wad cave, the burial of an adult in a contracted position was recently unearthed. The head was adorned with seven rows of shell beads. A simply shaped but attractive necklace of twin bone pendants and tubular dentalia beads was found on the same site.
"Since the material for dentalia beads was plentiful in seashore areas, these beads appear in great quantity in the Mount Carmel caves, which are not far from the Mediterranean coast. Dentalia have also been found on inland sites, such as Eynan in the Huleh Valley and in Wadi Khureitun in the Judaean Desert."