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Radiocarbon dates from Zawi Chemi Shanidar Layer B, Shanidar cave (Layers B1 and B2), and the Palegawra Iraq-Jarmo project excavations. All dates recalibrated using OxCal v4.3.2 [18] and the IntCal13 atmospheric curve [19]. Radiocarbon age determination sources: Zawi Chemi Shanidar B [20, 21]; Shanidar Cave B [22, 23]; Palegawra (Iraq-Jarmo project) [16, 17, 24].

Radiocarbon dates from Zawi Chemi Shanidar Layer B, Shanidar cave (Layers B1 and B2), and the Palegawra Iraq-Jarmo project excavations. All dates recalibrated using OxCal v4.3.2 [18] and the IntCal13 atmospheric curve [19]. Radiocarbon age determination sources: Zawi Chemi Shanidar B [20, 21]; Shanidar Cave B [22, 23]; Palegawra (Iraq-Jarmo project) [16, 17, 24].

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Palegawra cave, alongside its neighbouring Zarzi, has been an emblematic site of the Epipalaeolithic (Zarzian) cultural horizon in the NW Zagros of Southwest Asia ever since its first exploration in 1951 by Bruce Howe and Robert Braidwood in the context of the Iraq-Jarmo project. At the time scientific excavation, sampling and analysis methods were...

Contexts in source publication

Context 1
... 1950-55 the Iraq-Jarmo team excavated 4 sites including Palegawra cave (Epipalaeolithic), and the open-air sites of Barda Balka (Lower Palaeolithic), Karim Shahir ('Proto-Neolithic') and Jarmo (Neolithic) [2][3][4][12][13][14][15]. Of the excavated Palaeolithic sites only Palegawra has been previously radiocarbon dated to ~17,500-13,400 cal BP [16]. This range (obtained from charcoal samples) was subsequently narrowed down by Melinda Zeder to ~15,000-12,000 cal BP using AMS dates obtained from animal bone collagen samples [17] (Fig 3). Other possible Epipalaeolithic open-air sites surveyed in 1951 by the Iraq-Jarmo project in the Chamchamal area included Turkaka and Kowri Khan, both of which produced Zarzian-like surface lithic collections. ...
Context 2
... at ~14,000 cal BP (possibly earlier) while the top part of B1 was dated at ~12,400 cal BP (although the range could extend as late as 11,500 cal BP). At Zawi Chemi a single charcoal sample from a depth of ~1.20m near the base of Layer B produced a date of ~12,800 cal BP (possibly as late as 12,000 cal BP) (see also Fig 3). These dates are unreliable due to their very large standard errors and the limited information available on the stratigraphic position and contextual associations of the dated samples. ...
Context 3
... dates previously obtained by the Iraq-Jarmo project which could be reliably sourced in the literature include 2 faunal bone collagen samples (UCLA-1703A, UCLA-1714D) and 3 (botanically non-identified) charcoal samples ( GrN-6415, GrN-6356, GrN- 6357) (see also Fig 3). The UCLA dates were characterised by very wide error margins (>±200) and were thus deemed unreliable. ...
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... may have been collected from source or from wadi beds. Category 2 is represented by cherts exhibiting much more varied texture, colour and cortex including glossy greys and pinks with rolled cortex, often banded ( Fig 23). Similar raw material is located ~4km south of PG, in the bed of the river draining the Bazian valley. ...
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... single most common microlithic item found at PG are backed bladelet fragments ( Fig 29) representing 25-39% of microliths (Fig 30). These were often derived from microliths with a range of truncation types, although some probably originated from complete backed bladelet tools without truncations. ...
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... were often derived from microliths with a range of truncation types, although some probably originated from complete backed bladelet tools without truncations. Complete examples of this tool type are ubiquitous amongst microliths, with frequencies ranging from 1-17% (Fig 30). Therefore, it seems likely that backed bladelets without truncations were much more common than suggested by the frequencies of complete examples. ...
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... only potentially significant, if minor, diachronic shift is attested in the modest increase in the proportions of microliths (from ~23-25% in Phases 1-2 to 30% in Phase 3) (Fig 26). However, the frequencies of most specific microlithic types do not change through time with the sole exception of backed and truncated bladelets, which decrease from ~13% in Phase 1 to 6.5% in Phase 3 (Fig 30). The frequencies of geometrics sensu stricto, which could be reasonably expected to increase through time according to the classic accounts of the evolution of the Zarzian industries in the literature (see [34] and references therein) fluctuate without evidence of a clear temporal trend. ...
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... frequencies of geometrics sensu stricto, which could be reasonably expected to increase through time according to the classic accounts of the evolution of the Zarzian industries in the literature (see [34] and references therein) fluctuate without evidence of a clear temporal trend. Although they are slightly higher in Phase 3 compared to Phase 1, they register their highest values in Phase 2 (Fig 30). On the whole, the PG Area A lithic assemblage (Figs 26-30) points to a remarkable degree of continuity in the presence of most tool types, including the main microlith types, over a period of ~6000 years. ...
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... clearest indicators of spatial variability in the PG chipped stone assemblage emerge when considering the lithic sample retrieved from Area B, which contains higher proportions of flakes and much fewer bladelets (unretouched debitage and tool blanks combined) (Fig 33). This is also reflected in the higher proportion of flake tools and the lower proportions of ...
Context 10
... WA backed bladelet category comprises arched backed bladelets, backed and obliquely truncated bladelets, and other backed and truncated bladelets ( [9]: pp.131-143). When compared to the combined proportions of similar categories in the EFEC assemblage, the WA appears to contain slightly lower proportions of these microlith types (Fig 34) while scalenes appear in similar proportions in both assemblages. A notable contrast lies in the much higher proportions of geometrics sensu stricto (excluding scalenes) amongst the microliths of the WA (Fig 34) especially trapezes and lunates ( [9]: pp.131-143). ...
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... compared to the combined proportions of similar categories in the EFEC assemblage, the WA appears to contain slightly lower proportions of these microlith types (Fig 34) while scalenes appear in similar proportions in both assemblages. A notable contrast lies in the much higher proportions of geometrics sensu stricto (excluding scalenes) amongst the microliths of the WA (Fig 34) especially trapezes and lunates ( [9]: pp.131-143). ...
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... most obvious points of detailed comparison are the assemblages previously studied and published from Zarzi and Warwasi. Olszewski [34] has usefully compared the relative proportions of the tools found in Warwasi and Zarzi, the latter including materials from both Garrod's and Wahida's excavations (Fig 34). She has incorporated Dufour bladelets in her microlith category; our analysis would have re-classified at least some of them as retouched bladelets since they are not necessarily backed forms. ...
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... has incorporated Dufour bladelets in her microlith category; our analysis would have re-classified at least some of them as retouched bladelets since they are not necessarily backed forms. After excluding Dufour bladelets, microliths make up 15-30% of the Warwasi and Zarzi tool assemblages, their proportions thus being directly comparable to those of PG (13-30%) (Fig 34). Scrapers, ranging from 2-13% at Warwasi and in Wahida's Zarzi assemblage, also match the PG scraper frequencies (4-12%). ...
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... re-adjustment of Olszewski's categories evens out the differences observed between Warwasi and PG with regard to the proportions of arch backed bladelets, backed and truncated types, scalene bladelets and geometrics sensu stricto (see Figs 26-34). Scalene bladelets are the most common type amongst the Warwasi microliths, increasing from ~6% in Unit 1 to ~29% in Unit 2 and then decreasing to 11% in the stratigraphically latest Unit 4 (Fig 34). In the PG Area A assemblage, the proportions of scalene bladelets are fairly comparable (~7-14% without indications of a directional trend). ...
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... both Warwasi and PG this might reflect a diachronic trend. The most notable contrast between the two sites lies in the proportions of backed and truncated bladelets, which at Warwasi represent only ~1-8% (increasing from Unit 1 to 4) ( Fig 34) while at PG they range between 22-33% across the Area A sequence and in Area B without evidence of a clear diachronic trend (see Fig 26). While at Warwasi some equivalent items might be amalgamated in the blunt ended category, even adjusting their frequencies for this would not approximate their proportions at PG. ...
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... Warwasi their frequencies are similar (~1-6.5%) (Fig 34) but, unlike PG, they increase through time with their highest proportions recorded in Unit 4. However, considering the much higher frequency of geometrics (8.33%) in Area A Phase 2 compared to the (undated) Unit 4 of Warwasi, it seems rather improbable that there is a temporal trend towards increasing proportions of geometrics sensu stricto for much of the Zarzian. ...
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... Zarzi assemblage as presented by Wahida [10,11] comprises very generic microlith categories, essentially a backed bladelet category presumably including a wide range of backed types, scalenes, largely scalene bladelets, and geometric microliths designated as lunates. After amalgamating the Wahida and Garrod lithic samples (Fig 34) the Zarzi assemblage appears to be dominated by various forms of backed, and backed and truncated bladelets, also including a significant proportion of scalene bladelets (~22%) and very modest proportions of geometrics sensu stricto (~2%). It is conceivable that scalenes and geometrics sensu stricto increase through the Zarzi sequence, but this is far from conclusive given Wahida's modest sample size and the limited stratigraphic control of Garrod's excavation. ...
Context 18
... beads retrieved from the PG late Pleistocene deposits of Area A include 4 short cut segments and 2 complete/almost complete scaphopod (Dentalium or Antalis) shells: 4 short sections from context AAJ (Phase 3) one of which preserved traces of red ochre on its cut end, and 2 more complete shells from ABV (Phase 2) (see Fig 35). Another larger and possibly pierced shell (provisionally identified by Daniella Bar-Yosef as Theodoxus sp., a riverine taxon) was also retrieved from context AAJ (Fig 36). ...
Context 19
... beads retrieved from the PG late Pleistocene deposits of Area A include 4 short cut segments and 2 complete/almost complete scaphopod (Dentalium or Antalis) shells: 4 short sections from context AAJ (Phase 3) one of which preserved traces of red ochre on its cut end, and 2 more complete shells from ABV (Phase 2) (see Fig 35). Another larger and possibly pierced shell (provisionally identified by Daniella Bar-Yosef as Theodoxus sp., a riverine taxon) was also retrieved from context AAJ (Fig 36). Detailed analysis to determine whether the scaphopod segments represent fossil shells (quite possibly distant sources) or they were instead transported to PG from coastal areas at a considerable distance (>600km also taking into account the lower sea levels during this period) is pending. ...
Context 20
... modest number of ground stone implements were retrieved in the field from secure Area A contexts, including 8 artefacts and 12 possible ground stone fragments. These were manufactured from igneous and limestone raw materials, with some of the igneous rock artefacts displaying more extensive shaping through working and use (Fig 37). ...
Context 21
... and red deer were primarily distinguished using morphological criteria. Where diagnostic features were not present, identification was based on size as there is a clear difference between aurochs and red deer at PG (see Fig 38). The equid bones have been attributed to onager (Equus hemionus) on the basis of comparative biometrical analyses with modern Iranian onager (S2 File and S7 Table). ...
Context 22
... taphonomic information was also recorded for long bones (nature of fragmentation, fragment length and burning) in order to better understand assemblage formation processes. Both taxonomic identification and the recording of bone surface taphonomy were complicated by the lime travertine concretions encasing the majority of the animal bone recovered from PG (Fig 39). The decision was made not to treat the bones with acid to remove these concretions as this can damage surface markings. ...
Context 23
... majority of red deer and onager first phalanges display evidence of marrow extraction. Many of these elements have been broken open longitudinally, often splitting the bone in half along the shaft (see Fig 43 for examples). Long bone shaft fragments are also abundant, despite the relatively low number of long bone diagnostics recorded (S9 Table). ...
Context 24
... bone shaft fragments are also abundant, despite the relatively low number of long bone diagnostics recorded (S9 Table). The fracture surfaces of the vast majority of bones indicate that they were broken while fresh, with many also exhibiting the classic 'spiral fracture' of marrow extraction [81] (see Fig 43D for examples). This suggests that not only the diagnostic elements of the mandible, feet and toes were processed but also the marrow-rich long bones. ...
Context 25
... all phases the most common non-wood remains by count and ubiquity (sample presence) are tubers/parenchyma, followed by grasses (small-seeded Poaceae and Poaceae seed fragments, which may represent both large-and small-seeded taxa) and medium-sized legumes (Figs 53-55). The latter comprise exclusively Lathyrus/Vicia preserved as whole seeds and seed fragments (Fig 55). ...
Context 26
... impact of preservation conditions on charred macro-remain densities, sample composition and taxon representation, is even more acutely demonstrated in the Area A anthracological assemblage (Fig 52 and S16Α and S16Β Table). More than 90% of the wood charcoal NISP originated in Phase 1 samples, which also contained the highest densities of anthracological remains: 0.27 wood charcoals >2mm per litre of sediment, compared to 0.03 for Phase 2 and 0.07 for Phase 3. Amygdalus (Figs 62 and 63) is by far the most common charcoal taxon in Phase 1, being present in 22 out of 29 sampled contexts and amounting to 252 fragments out of a total NISP of 308. Although the majority of identified fragments were too small to permit wood calibre estimations [122,123] most displayed the curved growth rings and/or wide rays typically associated with shrubby forms [124] (S14-S16 Figs). ...

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... this deficiency can be attributed to a) the low number of excavated sites, b) poor stratigraphic control, and c) the lack of a sufficient number of absolute dates. Recent absolute date achievements from the EP site of Palegawra cave [17]. locates on the northern ZM alongside Paleoclimatic reconstruction in Hashilan wetland [8] based on the palynological studies have improved our understanding from Epipaleolthic cultural and environmental events for the region. ...
... While these tools may not be geometric in nature, they fall into the EP, often leading to a strategic error that documents such tools as the late Upper Palaeolithic. For example, in open-air sites such as Turkaka and Kowri khan, which were surveyed by the Iraq-Jarmo project, the absence of geometrics in the mentioned collection suggests that they may be before Zarzi and Palegawra sites [17]. ...
... According to the data obtained from the Caucasus, available data it can be acknowledged that the ZM is more in line with this region than the Levant because the EP sites in this region date back to 18 kyr BP. Furthermore, the dating of Palegawra Cave, indicates that the beginning of the EP starts around 19.6 kyr BP and the beginning of the Zarzi culture in the northwest of the ZM approximately 15 kyr BP, although some researchers suggest the beginning as 17 kyr BP [17]. it seems that the improvement of the climatic situation at the beginning of the late glacial period has led to changes in the technology of EP lithic tools, settlement patterns and subsistence. ...
... this deficiency can be attributed to a) the low number of excavated sites, b) poor stratigraphic control, and c) the lack of a sufficient number of absolute dates. Recent absolute date achievements from the EP site of Palegawra cave [17]. locates on the northern ZM alongside Paleoclimatic reconstruction in Hashilan wetland [8] based on the palynological studies have improved our understanding from Epipaleolthic cultural and environmental events for the region. ...
... While these tools may not be geometric in nature, they fall into the EP, often leading to a strategic error that documents such tools as the late Upper Palaeolithic. For example, in open-air sites such as Turkaka and Kowri khan, which were surveyed by the Iraq-Jarmo project, the absence of geometrics in the mentioned collection suggests that they may be before Zarzi and Palegawra sites [17]. ...
... According to the data obtained from the Caucasus, available data it can be acknowledged that the ZM is more in line with this region than the Levant because the EP sites in this region date back to 18 kyr BP. Furthermore, the dating of Palegawra Cave, indicates that the beginning of the EP starts around 19.6 kyr BP and the beginning of the Zarzi culture in the northwest of the ZM approximately 15 kyr BP, although some researchers suggest the beginning as 17 kyr BP [17]. it seems that the improvement of the climatic situation at the beginning of the late glacial period has led to changes in the technology of EP lithic tools, settlement patterns and subsistence. ...
... Recent paleoenvironmental work in the Central Zagros indicates that this was a period of dry summers and wet winters, with a markedly seasonal precipitation regime; it was associated with the establishment of Pistacia by ca. 10,000 cal BP, with Quercus beginning to spread across the region around that time [22,23]. This regime replaced the herb steppe that had characterized the region and the rest of the Iranian Plateau during the Younger Dryas and made it comparatively poor in resources and perhaps depopulated by humans [24]. ...
... The presence of Epipaleolithic deposits at the base of Ganj Dareh would, however, align itself well with the emerging pattern of hunter-gatherers occupying key sites in the region during the climatic amelioration of the early Holocene to take advantage of increasingly abundant resources prior to the development of food production [24]. Although this picture is complicated by recent data showing a perduration of human occupations at Palegawra Cave during the terminal Pleistocene [23], it would agree well with the pattern of occupation documented at nearby sites including Abdul Hosein, Asiab, East Chia Sabz, Chogha Golan and Sheikh-e-Abad [11,16,19,51,52,92,103]. ...
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The Aceramic Neolithic site of Ganj Dareh (Kermanshah, Iran) is arguably one of the most significant sites for enhancing our understanding of goat domestication and the onset of sedentism. Despite its central importance, it has proven difficult to obtain contextually reliable data from it and integrate the site in regional syntheses because it was never published in full after excavations ceased in 1974. This paper presents the Ganj Dareh archive at Université de Montréal and shows how the documentation and artifacts it comprises still offer a great deal of useful information about the site. In particular, we 1) present the first stratigraphic profile for the site, which reveals a more complex depositional history than Smith’s five-level sequence; 2) reveal the presence of two possible pre-agricultural levels (H-01 and P-01); 3) explore the spatial organization of different levels; 4) explain possible discrepancies in the radiocarbon dates from the site; 5) show some differences in lithic technological organization in levels H-01 and P-01 suggestive of higher degrees of residential mobility than subsequent phases of occupation at the site; and 6) reanalyze the burial data to broaden our understanding of Aceramic Neolithic mortuary practices in the Zagros. These data help refine our understanding of Ganj Dareh’s depositional and occupational history and recenter it as a key site to improve our understanding the Neolithization process in the Middle East.
... CA and other multivariate analyses thus present particularly powerful tools for mapping the diachronic development of complex woodland catchments that were not limited to a single ecotone and/or were uniformly distributed across the landscape. In other cases, multivariate techniques can be used for integrating different archaeobotanical datasets (anthracological and non-wood macrofossils) thus enabling multi-proxy palaeovegetation reconstructions (e.g., Asouti et al., 2015Asouti et al., , 2018Asouti et al., , 2020Martínez-Varea et al., 2019;among others). ...
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This paper provides a critical review of the main methodological achievements in sampling and quantitative analysis in anthracology, the study of wood charcoal macro-remains from archaeological contexts. The application of appropriate sampling protocols is a prerequisite for the study of all types of archaeo-anthracological assemblages, particularly when it comes to the study of wood fuel waste. Sampling directly impacts the quantitative taxonomic composition of a charcoal assemblage and its representativeness with regard to reconstructing ancient woodland composition. The selection of contexts and deposits appropriate for this purpose, the spatial sampling of charcoal scatters, sieving methods and mesh size, what constitutes optimal sample size and the outcomes of charcoal fragmentation, are all discussed. Provided that appropriate methods are followed, the case for the palaeoecological representativeness of archaeo-anthracological fuel waste deposits is argued in detail. This also includes a discussion of the contribution of laboratory experiments to understanding the impacts of combustion and post-depositional processes on archaeological charcoal preservation and the implications of fuelwood properties for wood collection. We argue that ancient firewood use was predicated principally on wood availability in past vegetation and its interdependence with ancient landscape management practices. Lastly, we discuss the application of multivariate methods in anthracology, and the insights they may provide for reconstructing archaeological charcoal taphonomy, and past woodland vegetation and fuel uses.