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The use of geochemical analysis and visual methods for understanding raw material acquisition around Amud Cave, Israel

Author(s): Ravid Ekshtain ; Shimon Ilani ; Erella Hovers ; Irina Segal

Year: 2015

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Amud Cave (eastern Upper Galilee, Israel) is known for its Middle Paleolithic deposits, containing thousands of animal bones and lithic artifacts from 3 anthropogenic stratigraphic units, dated to 68-55 ka. Excavations revealed hominin remains, including Neanderthal burials. Technological characteristics of the lithic assemblage show that the knapping sequence started off-site. However, related mobility patterns remained poorly understood. In order to understand the organizational decisions made by the Neanderthal hunter-gatherers occupying the site, we initiated a multi-disciplinary study involving a detailed geological survey of the Galilee and adjacent regions, visual characterization (color and texture) and geochemical fingerprinting (using ICP-MS and ICP-AES) of both geological flint exposures and of archaeological artifacts, and a detailed technological analysis of the earliest and latest assemblages.

The combined results show that Amud cave inhabitants used flint from the local Eocene formation around the cave but not from its immediate (several meters away) surroundings. Flints from distant source areas (>60 km) were used in both occupation phases. The technological analysis revealed different organizational strategies involving their exploitation. The results of this study enable discussion of diachronic changes in land use behaviors at Amud Cave, which may be linked to ecological shifts in the site’s environment.

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The use of geochemical analysis and visual methods for understanding raw material acquisition around Amud Cave, Israel. Ravid Ekshtain, Erella Hovers, Shimon Ilani, Irina Segal. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398166)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America