Research Items (10)
This paper describes the techno-typological affinities of a specific Acheulo-Yabrudian lithic assemblage dated to over 300 ka years ago from Qesem Cave, a middle Pleistocene site in central Israel. Aspects of blade production, knapping trajectories, and lithic recycling are examined in detail, demonstrating that this assemblage, notwithstanding its initial attribution to the blade-dominated Amudian industry, has some specific characteristics differing from other Amudian assemblages in the cave. The study discusses similarities and differences within the Amudian industry and offers a broader view of the variability within the Amudian industry of Qesem Cave.
We present the techno-typological characteristics of a lithic assemblage earlier that 300 ka originating from the southern area of Qesem Cave, a Middle Pleistocene site in central Israel. Aspects of knapping trajectories were examined in detail (including core analyses), demonstrating that the southern area assemblage has some distinguishable features in comparison with lithic assemblages from other areas of the cave. These features permit, in our opinion, to suggest that various levels of knapping skills are reflected in this particular assemblage – most probably characterizing both skilled knappers and unexperienced knappers or knappers in the process of learning. Thus, these data may permit a preliminary assessment of knowledge transmission relating to flint knapping that has taken place in the southern area of Qesem Cave during the late Lower Paleolithic in the Levant.
This study presents evidence of possible early human collaboration – the sharing of procured stone and of knowledge of lithic technology in the Middle Pleistocene at Qesem Cave (Israel). the results of a techno-typological analysis of lithic cores used for knapping stone tools reveal that some cores were shared among several knappers, both experienced and less experienced ones, c 400 ka years ago. this ‘core sharing’ provided inexperienced knappers with the opportunity to practise and acquire knapping knowledge in an efficient way. Working on previously used but not fully exploited cores enabled beginners to acquire motor skills while learning about the technological traditions practised within the group. this kind of ‘teaching through sharing’ behaviour appears to have been a repeated pattern throughout the 200 ka of the cave’s inhabitancy, and constituted one of a number of learning pathways that have been observed in Qesem. sharing mechanisms are thought to have played an important role in human evolution. the flint cores presented in this study offer a reflection of a knowledge-sharing culture, and their presence reveals aspects of the social relations and norms of this early society.
For some three million years humans have been collecting various materials - mainly stones and occasionally bones - for the production of tools and for other reasons. Many studies emphasize considerations of material's quality, ease of extraction from the enclosing matrix as well as proximity of the occupation sites to the source, as leading reasons for the selection and use of specific materials. Notwithstanding these technological and economic considerations, there might be other factors that influence specific choices of materials. These may embody interesting aspects regarding the perceptions and cultural, ontological and cosmological patterns of behavior of early humans. Archaeological evidences show that as early as the Lower and Middle Paleolithic, humans had specifically selected certain exceptional materials from a range of suitable sources in order to produce tools. However, in not few cases, exceptional materials were selected and collected but not used in a particular way that can be distinguished by us. Colorful, bright stones with noticeable aesthetics values (such as obsidian and colorful chert, quartzite, and lava) and specific animal bones (such as elephant bones) were selected used for the making of handaxes, blades, scrapers, points etc, while others were brought home and "used" in non-technological manner. The collection and transportation of specific materials is far from being trivial and raises questions concerning the complex relations of early humans with their surrounding – minerals and animals. Among recent indigenous societies (including hunter-gatherer societies), materials used for tool making such as stones are not perceived as passive objects destined to be exploited for economic benefit. Rather, they are considered as part of the cosmos, not very different than human themselves, and are perceived as playing an active role in the social, cosmological and epistemological realms of life. What can we say, in this light, about the universal phenomenon of the selection of exceptional materials in the Paleolithic? This session is aimed at exploring human selection of exceptional materials for different reasons and purposes among past and recent hunter-gatherer societies. The session will be open to papers describing the selection of these materials in Paleolithic sites as well as ethnographic documentations, hopefully contributing to our understanding of the powerful inter-reliance of early humans, tools, minerals and animals.
- Nov 2015
This paper focuses on the results of a preliminary study of flint items densities in different areas and different parts of the stratigrapahic column of Qesem Cave. Qesem Cave is a karst chamber cave with a ~10m stratigraphic sequence assigned to the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC) of the late Lower Paleolithic in the Levant dated to 420-200ka.We first show the range of lithic densities in studied assemblages in the cave emphasizing significant differences in both the total number of lithic items per volume unit and/or for selected artifact categories within these assemblages. The results are used to suggest differential intensity of lithic-related activities in the cave and variability in synchronic (different areas of the cave within a similar stratigraphic level) distribution aspects of lithic categories of selected assemblages. We briefly note on the diachronic (assemblages belonging to different parts of the stratigraphic sequence) aspect of lithic densities in the discussion, yet this aspect is not is not central in this paper.A comparison of densities to frequency compositions of selected techno-typological categories in the same assemblages/areas further emphasizes the importance of using more than one quantitative measure as a descriptor of lithic assemblages and the interpretative potential of the interplay between the two measures. In some analyzed aspects the differences between the two measures in the same assemblage are quite significant, enabling interpretation of activity areas and specific human behaviors.Eventually, further research testing lithic densities against and/or incorporating them with other sets of density (and frequency) data from the same areas (e.g., faunal remains), or relating these densities to natural (such as a rock shelf) or human made features (such as a fireplace), may offer an elaborate and valuable landscape for reconstructing human behavior at the cave. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of specific techno-typological lithic categories within the assemblages studied as seen in densities augmented by available functional data (derived from use-wear analysis) enable another perspective on the subdivision of activity areas in some parts of the sequence.One synchronic example of our preliminary results which we present relates to generally contemporaneous assemblages adjacent to a constructed fireplace in the center of the cave in the upper part of the lower stratigraphic sequence dated to ca. 300ka. Both blade-dominated Amudian and Quina (and demi Quina) scrapers dominated Yabrudian assemblages are involved, indicating spatially differentiated, functionally related differences around the fireplace.
The study of lithic recycling in Paleolithic cultures throughout the Old World is increasingly becoming a topic of interest for many scholars. Technological analyses, refitting, and spatial analyses are disclosing the “recycling behavior” of many contexts, especially those of Lower and Middle Paleolithic sites. Still lacking, however, is a functional approach to the subject, which would certainly add new pieces to this intriguing jigsaw puzzle. Use-wear analysis, one of the most powerful methods to reach functional interpretations in lithic finds, can greatly improve our understanding of Paleolithic recycling behavior. Even in those cases where post-depositional alterations affected lithic items, use-wear analyses may produce important data despite the decrease in detail or less than optimal conditions of preservation. At the late Lower Paleolithic site of Qesem Cave, the high degree of conservation and preservation of the lithic tools maximizes the inference potential of this method. In this article, functional data are summarized following a study of a large sample of Amudian parent flakes (flakes from which were produced cores on flakes, termed COF-FFs) as well as recycled products (blanks produced from COF-FFs). Confirming the inference potential of use-wear analyses, this data allows for the delineation of functional peculiarities of the studied items, which, despite first impression, are anything but expedient. Moreover, the current use-wear analysis expands the scenario outlined by the technological study of the lithic recycling phenomenon at Qesem Cave, confirming its own role in the complex techno-functional system practiced by the hominins of Qesem Cave.
Qesem Cave is a Middle Pleistocene site in Israel assigned to the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC). The cave reveals a suite of innovative behaviors including intensive flint recycling activities. In this paper, we present a new classification system, developed for the study of lithic recycling at Qesem Cave. Through the careful technological analysis of hundreds of recycled items we have identified several recycling modes at Qesem Cave, including a specific production trajectory of blades and knives recycled from “old” flakes. We argue that the study of lithic recycling provides a significant glance at human decision-making processes and the technological repertoire of the late Lower Paleolithic, which are particularly pronounced when practiced within a lithic economy that enjoyed abundance rather than scarcity of stone. Our observations provide a more coherent view of AYCC lithic recycling which might be applied to the study of lithic recycling in other Paleolithic contexts.
This paper presents new results regarding lithic recycling in three flint assemblages from Qesem Cave, a late Lower Paleolithic site in Israel assigned to the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC). The study focuses on the similarities and differences in lithic recycling at the cave between the Amudian and Yabrudian industries as well as within the Amudian industry. Variability in recycling is evident at both the inter-industry level (between the Amudian and Yabrudian) and the intra-industry level (within the Amudian). In light of the results, we discuss the role of lithic recycling in the two AYCC industries at Qesem Cave, shedding new light on AYCC lithic variability in general and human behavior at Qesem Cave in particular.