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An Open-Air Site at Nesher Ramla, Israel, and New Insights into Levantine Middle Paleolithic Technology and Site Use

Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)

Abstract

A recently discovered site at Nesher Ramla, Israel (170–80 ka BP) is an open-air, eight-meter-thick Middle Paleolithic sequence situated in a deep karst sinkhole that acted as a sedimentary basin in which colluvial deposition was intermittent with in situ human activities. Presence of combustion features, excellent preservation of lithic artifacts and animal bones, and distinct concentrations of bones, lithics, and manuports point to the in situ human activities in the sinkhole.

The lithic assemblage from Nesher Ramla is the largest and best-preserved in the Levant dating to the latter half of MIS 6 – early MIS 5 (160–120 ka BP), offering a great opportunity to investigate changes and variations in human lifestyles and the exploitation of open landscapes for a period during which evidence for human occupation in the Levant is meager. The systematic production of naturally backed knives, the specialized tool-kit dominated by invasively and carefully retouched side-scrapers, and systematic lateral spall removal from retouched edges are unique characteristics of the Nesher Ramla industry setting it apart from other Middle Paleolithic industries in the Near East. We hypothesize that rather than a reflection of the function of the site in the land-use and mobility patterns, these features have a cultural origin and may indicate that Nesher Ramla hominins possessed discrete technological tradition that emerged in the region during late MIS 6 – early MIS 5. The unique context of the site, the size of the lithic assemblages, the excellent preservation of the finds and unique features of the lithic assemblages offer novel perspectives on various aspects of the MP hominin behavior during MIS 6–5.

Keywords

  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Levant
  • Open-air sites
  • Lithic technology
  • Site formation processes

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the organizers for inviting us to submit this paper. This research was supported by Israel Science Foundation (grant number 1773/15). The archaeological excavations at Nesher Ramla were supported by Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises Ltd.

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Zaidner, Y., Centi, L., Prevost, M., Shemer, M., Varoner, O. (2018). An Open-Air Site at Nesher Ramla, Israel, and New Insights into Levantine Middle Paleolithic Technology and Site Use. In: Nishiaki, Y., Akazawa, T. (eds) The Middle and Upper Paleolithic Archeology of the Levant and Beyond. Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-6826-3_2

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