The early evolution of the cultural Mediterranean landscape in Israel, with special reference to Mt. Carmel, is described with a holistic landscape-ecological systems approach as the coevolution of the paleolithic food gatherer-hunter and his landscapes. In addition to archeological findings and our research on fire ecology and the comparative dynamics of Mediterranean landscapes in Israel and California, we made use of new insights into the self-organization of living systems and landscapes and the theory of nonlinear general evolution. From the Middle Pleistocene onward, this process occurred in two major bifurcations; one in which the pristine forest landscape was converted by human land uses and by natural and intentional set fires into a more open subnatural landscape, and then from the Upper Pleistocene onward into a grass-rich, seminatural, landscape mosaic. The final stage of this coevolution was reached more than 10,000 years ago by the advanced epipaleolithic, pre-agricultural Natufians, whose rich culture and intensive land use have a striking resemblance with those of the pre-European central coastal California Indians. During the third major bifurcation of the Newlithic agricultural revolution, arable seminatural landscapes were converted into agropastoral ones. The coevolutionary symbiotic relationship was replaced by human dominance leading to intensive land uses including burning and grazing. This period is missing from Californian landscapes, 'junping' almost directly into the agro-industrial age and, therefore, apparently also lacking the great regeneration capacities and adaptive resilience acquired by Mediterranean landscapes. © 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.