The Early Upper Paleolithic Period at Manot Cave, Western Galilee, Israel

DOI: 10.14673/HE2016121016

Published in Human Evolution – Vol. 31 – n.1-2 – 2016

Key words: Manot Cave, Early Upper Palaeolithic, Ahmarian, Levantine Aurignacian.

Abstract

The Upper Palaeolithic period in the Levant is divided into three chronological stages: Initial (IUP), Early (EUP) and Late (LUP). While the Initial stage is the interphase between the Middle and the Upper Paleolithic periods, it was during the EUP that modern human populations fully established them-selves in the region. The EUP consists of two techno-complex-es, the local Ahmarian tradition, and the Levantine Aurigna-cian, conceived as an intrusive culture from Europe.

Recent excavations at Manot Cave in western Galilee, Israel, have exposed rich Ahmarian and Aurignacian remains. The Ahmarian remains were found at the center of the cave su-perimposed by Aurignacian layers. They are characterized by long and narrow uni-and-bidirectional blades produced by soft hammer percussion. The tools consist of retouched blades, end scrapers and burins on blades and el-Wad points. These have been radiocarbon dated to 46-42 ka cal BP (68%). The Le-vantine Aurignacian remains, currently the dominant techno-complex at Manot, were recorded at the entrance and center of the cave. Distinctive finds include carinated and nosed end scrapers, Aurignacian blades, curved-twisted bladelets and ant-ler spear points. The radiocarbon ages of the Aurignacian layers at the entrance and center of the cave range from between 39-33 ka cal BP (68%). The EUP at Manot is represented by faunal, botanical and shell remains. The faunal assemblages consist of large-medium (ungulates) and small (birds and reptiles) game. The charred/wood remains comprise species indicating a Medi-terranean forest environment. Notably, a relatively fair amount of sea shells were recovered from the EUP contexts, some were used as personal ornaments and others consumed as food. The EUP sequence at Manot starts with the Ahmarian, followed by a repetitive Aurignacian exploitation of the cave until ca. 30 ka, which is the estimated time of the collapse of the cave entrance.

Barzilai, O.
Excavation, Survey and Research, Israel Antiquities Authority,
POB 586, Jerusalem, Israel.

Hershkovitz, I.
The Dan David Laboratory for the Search and Study of Modern Humans,
Sackler Faculty of Medicine,
Tel Aviv University, POB 39040,
Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel.

Marder, O.
Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Archaeology Division,
Ben-Gurion, University of the Negev,
POB 653, Beer-Sheva 8410501, Israel.